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Permit for a bathroom surface remodel?

9 years ago

We are remodeling all three of our bathrooms, as well as doing some additional remodeling work (HVAC overhaul, tankless water heater for one side of our house, new floors, new exterior doors, etc.). Two of the bathrooms are just pure surface remodels (i.e., replacing tile, new toilets, new vanity, new faucets and shower head). The third bathroom is a more extensive remodel and will involve removing a jet tub, expanding a shower, and moving plumbing around (but no structural changes).

I called the City Building Department yesterday to inquire about permits for a portion of our project (the HVAC overhaul and the tankless water heater, and the third bathroom extensive remodel). In the course of discussing these things, I discovered that our city requires a permit for any work that you do, other than painting and replacing floors. So, even if you just wanted to replace your faucet, re-tile your shower, or even replace a light fixture, you would need a permit. This seems absurd to my husband and me. I think it's just a way for the city to make money. While we are fine with getting a permit for the third bathroom, the HVAC, and the tankless water heater, we were not intending on getting a permit for the surface remodels of the other two bathrooms or any of the other minor work we're doing. The remodeling on these two bathrooms is scheduled to start in a week.

Our contractor (who is quite reputable), agrees that we "technically" need permits for the surface remodel bathrooms, but doesn't think we should bother with them since the city will never know whether we remodeled these. I'm wondering if anyone else lives in a city that has a similar ridiculous requirement, and, if so, whether you have bothered to get permits for your basic remodels. Is there any real downside to not getting a permit for these things?

(Btw, apparently we were even supposed to get a permit for replacing our standard tank water heater that went out on us a month ago. I guess the city expects you to be without hot water while you go through the bureaucratic process of trying to obtain a permit.)

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