As a REALTOR®, I come across a lot of unpermitted work. There seems to be a misunderstanding about what work needs to be permitted in Palm Beach County. The most common misunderstanding is that only work on the outside of a home needs to be permitted. This is far from the truth and most likely came about because it is difficult for the building department to catch unpermitted work while it is happening behind closed doors.
When can unpermitted work come back to haunt you? When someone gets injured on your property or when you have a buyer for your property who does their research. If Code Enforcement gets involved, it could become very costly and time consuming for the homeowner. Please be aware that even if the homeowner does the work on the home a permit is required in many cases. Also, your town may have additional requirements for permitting. So call before you do any work.
Word of advice for home buyers looking to purchase a home that has been recently updated, especially ones that involve investors looking to flip: Ask of the permits. If they don’t have them, insist that they get them. The violations stay with the house. So once you buy the house, you own the violations.
From the Palm Beach County Building Department:
Section 105 of the Palm Beach County Amendments to the Florida Building Code requires permits for most construction-related work. Various improvements to real property may not require a Building Permit or Zoning review. Some may require only a Zoning review and are exempt from inspection and Building Code review. These improvements are termed Type 1- Site Plan Review Permits. The work exempted must still be constructed in accordance with minimum code standards. Other improvements for certain structures on actively functioning farms, are subject to agricultural exemption from Building Code enforcement by Florida Statute.
It’s easier to list ITEMS NOT REQUIRING A PERMIT in Palm Beach County (individual towns may have more restrictive permitting).
- A/C – Replacement of an existing window unit w/an existing dedicated electrical outlet.
- AC / Heating – Repair of existing system and/or replacement of any part that does not alter the system listing or make it unsafe.
- Ceiling Fan – Replacement of existing fan using existing fan box and wiring.
- Ceramic Tile – Remove and replace (Not installed on Fire Rated assemblies).
- Dishwasher – exact replacement; same wattage.
- Door – Replacement of any exterior door (excluding overhead doors) within the existing jam once in a 12-month period. (1 & 2 Family Dwellings only)
- Door – Remove and replace any interior residential door within the individual unit in the same location.
- Driveway – Sealcoat asphalt (1 & 2 Family Dwellings only)
- Drywall – Minor repairs if value of work is under $1,000 (1&2 Family Dwellings, Not involving Fire-Rated
- Faucet – Replace existing (not involving removal of drywall)
- Fence – Minor repair or exact replacement of a existing permitted fence up to $1000.00 fair market value,
excluding pool barriers.
- Gutters and Leaders on 1 & 2 Family Dwellings.
- Kitchen cabinet – Exact replacement only with no change in configuration of electrical or plumbing (1&2
- Light Fixtures – Replace “like for like” in existing lighting outlet 1&2 Family Dwellings Only)
- Outlet or switch – Replace existing outlet or switch with appropriate type within existing junction box.
- Pavers, sand set that are not a pool/spa deck or within five feet of a pool, (1 & 2 Family Dwellings Only) excluding
driveways or turnouts.
- Playground equipment, Manufactured – Site-built play enclosures less than 6′ X 6′ X 6′ (1&2 Family Dwellings Only) (Uses must still meet accessory setback requirements)
- Portable / Manufactured Pool or Spa – Less than 24 inches deep
- Roof – Minor repair of existing roof covering less than $1000.00 fair market value
- Satellite Dish Antennas – Residential 1 meter or less in diameter. Commercial 2 meters or less in diameter.
- Screen room –Rescreening to $1000.00 value
- Siding – Minor repair to existing under $1000.00 value
- Sink – Exact replacement in same location only
- Soffit or Fascia – Minor repair or replacement up to $1000.00 in value, which does not involve structural members
- Stucco – Minor repair of existing stucco finish if value of work is under $1000.00
- Water Closet – Replacement in same location
- Water Heater – Repair or replace heating elements.
- Window – Repair within existing frame if value of work is under $1000.00
- Wood Deck –Minor replacement of existing decking under $1000.00 (1 & 2 Family Dwelling Only