It seems like we always see the worst when we get a call and the owner states, “We just had all this work done, none of my toilets will drain, and I can’t get the contractor to call me back!”
Our first question is, “Did the contractor obtain a permit?” And the answer is always the same, “No, he/she said we didn’t need a permit.”
Once an unpermitted job is completed and problems are found, it’s too late to have a licensed contractor come in and fix what the unlicensed person(s) messed up. That’s why you typically hear licensed contractors tell you, “We’ll need to rip everything out and start over to correct the problems.”
We’re not saying this to be mean or to make more money. We say this because of liability. No reputable licensed contractor is going to risk getting a bad name or assuming liability for what an unqualified person started.
And please know, remodeling and additions should always have a permit. Your best protection against shoddy work is to have a permit inspection performed by the local Building Official. Any contractor who says you don’t need a remodeling permit is either not licensed or isn’t looking out for your best interest.
The most important thing you should always remember is:
First. Once you receive your quotes and decide which contractor you want to use, visit the SCLLR Licensee Lookup Website to conduct a license search. The SCLLR site is super easy to use and can save you lots of money, stress and headaches by avoiding the types of people who will completely botch your job.
Please make sure you’re choosing licensed contractors BEFORE you start the job, not after.
The link for the SCLLR site is:
Second. Ensure all contractors performing work at your home obtain a permit for the type of work they are performing. The remodeler will need a building permit. You will also need seperate mechanical permits such as plumbing, gas (obtained by plumber), electrical, and HVAC permit is any of those systems are being worked on. Please note that a licensed plumber and certain HVAC classes obtain gas permits – but the gas permit is a seperate permit from plumbing or HVAC.
Make sure the permit states what is actually being done. If you’re replacing a tub and below floor drains, make sure that is stated on the plumbing permit. This lets the Building Official know what needs to be inspected and when it needs to be inspected. The last thing you want is for tile to be installed and then the Building Official makes you rip it all up because he/she needed to check the piping below the concrete slab.
Each class of permit will get its own inspection. If you are having remodeling, electrical and plumbing work performed then you will need 3 permits.
Building contractors are licensed to perform structural work, as well as flooring, painting, doors, windows, roofing and other non-mechanical work.
Mechanical contractors are licensed to perform plumbing, gas (covered under plumbing), electrical and HVAC work. One company can be licensed to performed one of these classifications or all of the mechanical classifications. You can see a company’s mechanical license classification(s) by visiting the SCLLR Licensee Lookup Site.
Please remember that most building contractors are not licensed to perform mechanical work (plumbing, gas, electrical, HVAC). Each class of work has it’s own license so please verify your contractors by using the SCLLR Licensee Lookup Site.
Third. The most important part of the permitting process is the permit inspection.
Permit inspections are performed by the local Building Official. He/she will inspect the work and sign off on the permit. If theinspection fails, the Building Official will give the reason for the failure in writing.
Please note that each class of permit will get its own inspection. If you have a remodeling, plumbing and electrical permit then you will have a minimum of three inspections. Inspections may occur at the same time but the Building Official will be inspecting each class of work based on the scope of work listed in the permit. You may have multiple phases of inspections. For example you may have a rough and final for plumbing and electrical. The rough in inspection is to check the work that will be covered by drywall. Pretty important because drywall can hide a lot of problems. You may also have a framing inspection to ensure all structural components are correct before drywall can be installed.
If you have questions about what inspections are required, the Building Official can answer those. This will be based on the scope of work listed in the permit application so please make sure your contractors list all work in the permit application.
Inspections are what protect you from shoddy work. Permit inspections are probably the most important tool you have as a homeowner to ensure your job is completed properly. And a properly completed job eliminates stress, headaches and money wasted.
When searching SCLLR Licensee Lookup we recommend searching under commercial contractors for plumbers, electricians, HVAC, and general contractors. Search under residential builders for residential building contractors.
Below is what you will see if you pull up Hanahan Plumbing Co.
The first picture is the search page. For Hanahan Plumbing Co we searched Hanahan under commercial contractors. Then click on the license number and the second page pops up.
The second photo shows HPC’s license information. (Phone number is wrong BTW). First we check to make sure the license is active. Then we check to see what classifications the company holds. This license shows that this company is licensed to perform plumbing, electrical, and packaged equipment (HVAC). A builder will have a BD classification. A residential building contractor (using residential builder search) should show licensed as home builder.
Again, please take the small amount of time it takes to verify that a contractor is qualified to perform the work you are paying them to do. Search takes about 2 minutes to perform. Protect yourself by using qualified contractors.
At HPC, we don’t like to see anger and tears because someone got ripped off by “pretend” contractors. We think home is where you should be at your happiest! But, because we see the worst things that can happen, we just want to share with you how to avoid falling prey to these shammers. And once they scam you, you probably won’t ever see them again or see a penny from them to help correct the mess they made.
We hope our advice is helpful to all of you who are looking to make your home a happier place with a remodel or a new addition. Because that’s what a home improvement should do, make you happier.