Top 10 Remodeling No-Nos that the City Eventually Catches Up With

From on March 17, 2008 in General

When beginning a remodeling project, it is the responsibility of you and your contractor to determine what rules you must adhere to. It really isn’t as ominous as it sounds. Most cities are pretty reasonable and easy to work with, and there is no reason why your project shouldn’t go off without a hitch. Each city has their own rules, but simply avoiding some of the following “no-nos” is a good place to start.

  1. Working without a permit. Definitely the #1 “no-no,” completing your project without the proper permits and inspections will come back to bite you at some point. A potentially very serious situation, you could end up facing large fines, drastic changes in the project, or a complete removal. As your contractor should be well aware of, it’s just not worth it.
  2. Avoiding zoning requirements. Familiarize yourself with the zoning requirements, and be sure your project adheres to the guidelines.
  3. Evading the inspection process. If you drew a permit, they’re going to realize eventually that you haven’t called for an inspection. Normally, these inspections are free of charge, and ensure that your project is progressing correctly.
  4. Ignoring fire prevention. Have your plans inspected beforehand by the fire agency to ensure that the materials you intend to use are compliant with the fire ordinances. Many fire departments have become quite vigilant in enforcing compliance with these codes to cut down on fire danger.
  5. Creating an eyesore and overstepping your boundaries. Make sure your contractor is aware of your property boundaries, as well as the city ordinances about debris removal. You may find yourself in some hot water if there are building materials stacked in your front yard for too long.
  6. Bucking the system. Although this one may appear obvious, it doesn’t hurt to mention it. It may be tempting to install your own sewer system and well, but the city will catch on eventually.
  7. Becoming a neighborhood menace. Investigate the noise regulations, and notify your contractor of the hours it is okay for him to be making noise. Many neighbors resent the sounds of construction, especially if too early in the morning.
  8. Non-compliance with energy regulations. Energy regulations are another area you want to comply with. Many cities have specific rules for energy saving products such as green compliant materials and low-wattage lighting options.
  9. Not acknowledging CC&Rs. Some cities have specific codes for landscaping and fence building, especially in the front yard. Believe me, they will make you tear it down! Do not remove trees without prior approval. Many cities have strict laws against the removal of mature trees, and you could find yourself paying some penalties.
  10. Letting your passion for color run astray. Get your colors approved ahead of time. Maybe you just love that turquoise trim, or maybe you’re just mad at your neighbors; but keep in mind that in many areas, unapproved colors will have recourse. Just count the hours before a code enforcer arrives to tell you your color choice must go. New colors must be approved by the city.


Remember, a licensed, certified contractor should be well-versed in the rules and regulations of your city, alleviating the stress of discovering what is right and what is wrong.