New Castle News

Letters to the Editor

May 24, 2013

People should check building permit rules

NEW CASTLE — Editor, The News:

No one wants the government in his life.

Luckily, when it comes to building permits, Pennsylvania leaves most homeowners alone. People always should call their municipalities before starting any work, just to be sure a permit is not required.

In Pennsylvania, all residential repairs are exempt from permits. A repair is any work that restores the house to how it was before the damage. They also exempt all nonstructural alterations. This would be most remodeling projects.

Structural alterations, such as removing a load bearing wall or installing roof trusses over a flat roof, require a permit, but only for the alteration.

Additions require permits; the only exception is decks less than 30 inches above the grade around the deck. All swimming pools more than 24 inches deep require a permit, even the blowup kind.

Finally, for those building a detached structure, under 1,000 square feet, accessory to a single-family dwelling, such as a shed, garage or workshop, no building permits or inspections are required. That’s the rules for residential.

Commercial work is a completely different matter; virtually all commercial work requires a permit. From simple electrical work, such as changing a light switch or fixture to reroofing a building or changing a door to replacing a furnace or water heater, this work always requires a permit.

So if people are having work done in a store, office, or apartment building, they should call their municipalities and get permits. These are nice people who want to keep our community growing, so if we all do our part, no one is forced to pay for the errors of others.

An often misunderstood inspection is for when you work on the electrical service to your house; this inspection is required by the electrical utility and not by state law.

Thomas F McCosby

Hunt Road

New Castle

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