Originally Posted by nickbuol
Codes change every couple of years...
However, the biggest concern is with insurance in my book. I finished my 4th basement now, and I will admit that this last time was the first time with permits and inspections. We got burned a little bit when we sold our last house that we couldn't legally list the finished basement square footage, so even though we had more total finished sqft than a competitor, we looked (on paper) to be smaller and missed some opportunities.
Also, when we bought our current house just over a year ago, the lender and insurance company both said that any improvements to the inside of the property needed permits and inspection. Our insurance company also said that exterior improvements did too (fences, deck, etc).
Otherwise we wouldn't be covered in case of an accident, fire, poor plumbing, structural fault, etc.
The 1st basement finish wasn't the greatest fit/finish, but the core electrical and framing was solid and to code. I've always gotten up to speed on the current federal codes, AND local codes for the time.
Yes, that meant running metal conduit for any electrical wiring not *inside* a finished wall too. For me, it was just in my storage area, but it does make sense.
Not criticizing, just commenting from personal experience.
Of course, getting permits also means that my county will get the finished sqft number and what the rooms consist of (bedroom, finished storage closet, office, full bath, game room, wet bar, family room, home theater, and unfinished storage)... All so that they can reassess my house and charge more for taxes....
Wow, that's really messed up that a competitor would do that! I've never heard of anything like that before, and my wife, being a high volume real estate agent has told me ALL of the stories! There doesn't seem to be any rules in our state about what goes on tax records vs what you can list for your bedrooms/bathrooms, etc. The only rules I know about is that you cannot list something as a bedroom unless it has a window (for escape), a closet (for clothing), and doors. Usually I think agents get "finished sqft" from tax records, but I've seen houses before listed on 3 different websites that have 3 different numbers for finished sqft. Usually, you NEVER count basements in a home's SQFT calculation. They consider everything above ground to be the official "built" SQFT or living space, and then just have a box that says "Finished Basement? Yes/No/Partial" Using a basement's SQFT in the home's number is a deceptive to a buyer, but again, no one really polices that, someone would just know as soon as they saw the place that the number is wonky. Was this in Iowa that this happened to you? It's so strange to me how different some states are sometimes.
Of course it is a judgement call of risk/reward on inspections. For me personally, having USAA, they just asked me questions about my house, and then sent someone to do a walkthrough and verify what I had and to make a valid "appraisal rebuild" price. They even told me after seeing a partially finished basement to just give them a call if I made any changes and they would adjust the amount. On my last house they adjusted it before my final inspection took place so I know they didn't look it up from tax records. In my case, my insurance was changed when my theater was finished and it is now covered , so I'm good there. Now the real issue would be if a fire started in an area of your home which was not properly inspected with permits, in which case, you may be in for a big pickle!
I read my updated state's code documents as BIG and I verified a couple of things during our planning phase. As for your wiring and conduit issue, they would have never passed me on a pre-drywall inspection since before the drywall went up I had no wiring at all. (As it was to all go in the room through the soffits and down columns, etc) Pre-Drywall, an inspection would expect to see gang boxes every 12' apart on the wall, within 6' of a doorway, etc. Of course at the time of pre-drywal, I would have had no gang boxes. I could tell the inspector I would be putting it in the soffit, and doing everything properly, but the inspector who comes for final inspection wouldn't be able to see it and think it was done pre-drywall, and the pre-drwall inspector wouldn't be able to see it since it is post-drywall. Yet I didn't want to put holes for 20 gang boxes in my drywall. So, basically I had to forgo inspections to do this. I would never tell someone to do something without an inspection, I just wanted to do my theater just-so.