Building Permit Expired: What happens now? (Re-approval guide)

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If a building permit has expired, the application process will need to be repeated and the fees paid again. Extensions are only granted on valid permits. Working with an expired permit is the same as working without a permit and the consequences are the same.

When construction is underway and a building permit is in place, the expiration date seems to approach rather quickly. It is a common fear that renovations will be ruined by building permits expiring, but all is not lost if the building permit is to expire or it has already done so before you realized the date.

The length of time for which a building permit is valid depends on location. There are consequences to continuing a build with an expired permit, so even if you are only a short way off from the finish line, rather apply for an extension, reinstatement, or a new permit.

How Long Do Building Permits Last?

Where you are and what permits you have applied for will determine how long the permits are valid for.

LocationHow long permit is validAdditional details
California, USA1 year6-month extensions can be granted if the permittee has a valid reason for an extension.
The permit is valid as long as the project is not left for more than 6 months at a time. 
Texas, USA180 daysThe building permit expires after 180 days have passed with no work done. 
Florida, USA1 yearThe permit is valid for one year as long as every 6 months, an inspection is done and passed. 
Permit extensions of 90 days are available as long as they are submitted prior to the expiration date. 
New York, USA1 yearThe permit is voided if construction has not begun in the first 6 months. 
Permit renewal is needed if the construction takes more than a year. 
Pennsylvania, USA5 yearsThe permit is voided if construction has not begun in the first 180 days or if 180 days have gone by without progress after construction has already begun. 
Quebec1 yearIf 6 months have gone by without any construction at any point in the process, the permit is voided. 
British Columbia2 yearsA building inspector is able to extend the deadline by up to a year. 
Ontario6 monthsThe permit does not expire unless 6 months go by without construction at any point in the process. 
UK6 monthsThe permit does not expire unless 6 months go by without construction at any point in the process. 

If you are using a contractor, they should be very familiar with how long building permits are valid for and will likely ensure that an extension is applied for before the permit expires. However, you should always keep an eye on the permit situation, even if your contractor pulled the permit because, ultimately, it is your home.

Consequences of Continuing Work With Expired Permit

If work is continued even after the permit has expired, the consequences are similar to those of when a permit wasn’t pulled at all. All work done after the expiration is subject to consequences.

If you are planning to sell the home, when the appraiser finds that extra square footage has been added but is not on record, they may lower the value of the area, making the home worth less than it would have been if the permit was active.

Also related to selling a home, if a buyer finds out about unpermitted work done to the house, they are less likely to buy the home since unpermitted work may mean flaws in the integrity and safety of the home.

Three wooden houses and a poster with a symbol of declining property value indicated in a chart

If an inspector drives by and sees construction happening with an expired permit, the homeowner is subject to monetary penalties. This can manifest in terrible fees like $100 dollars a day until the problem is corrected.

Another possible consequence of working without a permit is that the work may not be up to code. Building codes ensure safety, so not following them can lead to possible harm to the inhabitants or to the home itself.

Work done without a permit and, therefore, without inspections may be dangerous and can cause catastrophes, such as house fires and structural failure.

Can I Apply for an Extension After Permit Expires?

The general consensus is no, you cannot apply for an extension after the permit has expired. As long as an extension to a permit is applied for before the deadline of the permit, an extension is possible, but as soon as the permit expires, an extension usually will not be approved. 

In such a case, to continue the same project, it is usually necessary to reapply for a new permit. 

Hands holding smartphone with the word Extended on it

Renewing often requires an additional fee if they use the initial permit application. Renewing implies that absolutely no changes were made from the original permit since the original permit’s details are submitted again for the process of renewing.

Re-approval is much like the initial application. The processes are practically the same, except a new application could have altered floorplans based on changing ideas of the homeowner. 

Re-Approval Process Similar to Initial Application

How to Access Information About Permits

To find detailed guides on how permitting works, where the forms are found, the required documentation, fee amounts, etc., it is simplest to look up whatever county you are planning to build in and “building permits.” An example search would be “San Francisco building permits.”

Most websites have an FAQ with questions such as “Do I need a building permit for…” and “What are the fees for building permits?” There are often guides on what sort of building and projects need a permit and which ones do not.

Business hand clicking FAQ or Frequently asked Questions on the search tab

One frequently asked questions is “Do You Need a Permit to Finish a Basement?” I was asking this question myself recently, so I did a little research and it turns out that the answer is almost always yes.

How to Submit a Permit Application

Since most counties will have a website, those with a website often have the submitting of a permit online as well. This means that nothing would have to be printed or mailed, the entire process would be online, including the fees.

This method has become the main one for most counties as a result of the current pandemic. Hover, some do not have the entire permit application online, though, but still have pdfs available for printing out yourself. The filled-out documents can then be mailed to the address given on the website.

Building-permit-Written-on-Blue-Key-of-MetalliKeyboard Finger pressing key

Your permit application should be sent by whoever did it the first time since it was approved the first time. If your contractor applied for you, then repeat this for the re-approval. If you did it yourself, then repeat this for the re-approval.

As for who handles this permit application, it would be the same as the first time you applied: it will be handled by the county officials.

You will be notified about your approval in about two weeks. The time frame may vary by the area and the number of permits being sorted through by the county.

Required Documentation

A detailed building plan is needed as well as the permit application documents.

The building plan must include precise locations and dimensions of ceilings, floors, doors, smoke detectors, fire alarms, egress points, HVAC units, wiring, and other important home amenities.

If the plans for construction have not changed at all since the first permit was submitted and issued, then the same documents can be used as long as plans have not changed and the layout of the affected rooms is fundamentally the same. 

Permit Application Fees

Depending on what kind of construction you are doing, a permit will cost anywhere between $200 and $1000.

Fee rates often increase with the increase in complexity of the project.

House being remodelled

If the local fees have changed since you had first applied for a permit, then these new fees are the ones you’ll be charged with, not the ones in effect the first time around. 

Do You Need to Reapply?

All in all, reapplying for a permit is practically the same as applying for a permit the first time around. The process may be expedited by familiarity with the process and using the same building plan, but the process will still take a good amount of time.

Not only does the process still take up a good amount of time, but the required fees are still in place and may have gone up since the first permit application. 

To avoid the re-approval process, it is important to judge whether or not you actually need to reapply. Enough work may have been done with the permit in place for a permit not to be needed.

It would be valuable to call or email a knowledgeable individual at your local permit office to see whether or not the remaining work needs a permit. If it turns out that you don’t, then the project can be finished without the hassle of paperwork, inspections, and fees.


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