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Florida’s Building Permit Laws

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Permit Required

According to the Florida Building Code, a building permit is required for any instance where a building is being erected or altered. Therefore, a permit is required if the owner of the property plans to construct, enlarge, repair, move, demolish, change occupancy or structure of the building. The list of when a permit is needed covers a wide variety of construction alterations, however, the permit requirement is not limited to buildings. They also include mechanical, electrical and other systems that enable occupancy. As such, building permits are required if an owner plans to install, alter, repair, remove, convert, replace, any electrical, mechanical or plumbing systems provided the plan is permitted by the Florida Building Code.

Obtaining a Building Permit

The first stage in obtaining a building permit is to submit an application to the respective state agency. In Florida, building permits are administered by the cities and counties where the construction project will take place. The building permit form seeks information about the project details, specifications, location, and contractors working on the project.  A licensed contractor or the owner of the building can obtain the permit. Depending on the circumstances, an owner may opt to obtain the permit on their own accord. The risks involved in this strategy are discussed below. The permit form requires a notarization. After the form is submitted to the state agency, the application is reviewed and goes through the normal processing. Any comments or questions about the project are directed to the noted contact. The permit is either denied or approved. Failure to obtain a permit before commencing a project can result in a penalty. The fees are set out in Section 109 of the Florida Building Code as authorized in Florida Statutes 553.80.

Contractor Permits vs. Owner Permits

Licensed building contractors are normally tasked with obtaining the building permit. The license serves to cover the construction project with general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance. General liability insurance shields the owner and contractor (in case of a lawsuit) from outside parties who are injured as a result of accidents on a construction site. Whereas, workers compensation insurance assures that injured workers on the construction site get medical care and compensation for work-related injuries. When an owner of a building requests a building permit without a contractor, it presents a risk. The owner does not have the license to acquire liability insurance and worker’s compensation. Therefore, an owner who pulls their own permit does so at their own risk. It can be a quite costly one should anything go amiss. It seems state agencies do allow owners to pull their own for very simple projects. Consequently, it is wiser to use a contractor to obtain the permit especially if the project is large, complex and requires multiple workers.

Your Florida Construction Law Attorney 

Are you thinking of commencing a construction project? The first step is to hire an experienced construction law attorney who can advise you on Florida’s building permit laws. Attorney Brendan A. Sweeney is an experienced construction law attorney with years of experience advising on building permit issues.  Contact us for a consultation.

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