Do I have to have a license to do work on my own home?
No. A homeowner who owns and occupies a 1 or 2 family dwelling can do their own construction work, as long as they can demonstrate that they are knowledgeable of the code requirements of concern. You may not use or hire unlicensed people to help you or to do the work for you.
Why do I need a building permit?
Not only is it the law, but building permits can also protect you. With a building permit you get the advice of reviewers and inspectors who will approve each phase of your project, checking to see that the work is done in accordance with the Standard Building Code, zoning laws and the approved plans. Additionally, a building permit is required to show compliance with sanitary, safety and welfare concerns including required setbacks from property lines and adjacent structures.
Working without a permit, when one is required, can result in fines and can cause problems when you sell your home. And, probably more importantly, you lose the assurance that the work you're paying for is built to code, a minimum standard for safety.
Why should I use a licensed contractor?
Any person who is not licensed and registered with the Construction Industry Licensing Board is doing so illegally. In addition, the State Attorney General's Office has stated that contracts made with an unlicensed contractor are not enforceable under law. Another reason is the license provides some protection to the owner from being charged for work and materials not provided or paying twice for them (material suppliers and sub-contractors can place a lien on your home if they do not receive payment from your contractor). There are also trade licenses for those persons doing other work to provide some assurance that they have adequate knowledge and training in those fields. Avoid any contractor who requires large advance payments.
How should I choose a contractor?
Here are some suggestions:
• Ask people you know for names of contractors they have used.
• Once you have a list of contractors, ask for references.
• Make sure you are comfortable with the contractor and that good lines of communication exist.
• Check the contractor's insurance coverage. The contractor should carry comprehensive policies to protect his business and your home, including public liability, property damage protection, and workers' compensation. May want an original from the insurance company, listing your name.
• Ask for written quotes with all details from more than one contractor. It is advisable to get, at least three contractors to provide bids. Remember - the lowest price is not always the best one. It could mean a misunderstanding of the project.
• Arrange to pay the contractor after the work is completed and according to a payment schedule.
• The payments should reflect approximately the work that has been done.
• Avoid paying cash. Payment by check will be a record of your payment.
• Make all payment by check to the company contracted to do the work; not to cash or a person’s name.
• Do not sign a completion certificate unless all the work is completed according to the contract, your satisfaction and an approved final inspection by your local building department.
What is a Notice of Commencement?
If your contract exceeds $2,500.00, a Notice of Commencement must be filed by the homeowner or contractor.
In accordance with Section 713.13 (1) (h) of the Florida Statutes, a “Notice of Commencement” must be filed with the Clerk of the Court (County Records Division) prior to commencement of construction of a project, and a certified copy or affidavit attesting to the recording of the Notice of Commencement, must be posted at the jobsite. This notice contains detailed information about the project such as property owner, financial institution, jobsite address, contractor, etc., and protects the property owner’s title to the property.
The Building Department at Bartow City Hall will provide this form to permit applicants upon request.
• Your failure to record a Notice of Commencement may result in your paying twice for improvements to your property. If you intend to obtain financing, consult with your lender or an attorney before recording your Notice of Commencement. A recorded copy of the Notice of Commencement must be posted on the job-site.
What is an inspection?
Once a permit has been issued and work has begun, inspections are performed by the City's inspectors at intervals designated by the Standard Building Code. Simply stated, an inspection is required prior to concealing any part of the construction. The building permit that is issued will indicate the types of work that requires inspections and when to call for one. This permit must be displayed on the job site. The contractor should call the Building Department when the stage of work indicated on the building permit has been completed.
Failure to comply with the inspection requirements could result in a request to dismantle any work done beyond the inspection stage. In order to prevent delays in performing inspections, we ask your assurance that properly installed and visible address appear on buildings. The scheduling of inspections can be done by calling 863-534-0157.
Why do I need inspections?
Inspections are required at various stages of the project to see that the work is following the approved plans and codes.
How long does it take before a permit is issued?
Simple projects, such as A/C change outs, electrical and plumbing usually can be checked immediately when you bring your plans into City Hall, and you can get your permit before you leave. Simple projects generally can be checked within 5 working days. More complex projects could take up to 15 to 30 working days.
What kind of projects require a building permit?
Building permits are required for the construction/renovation of most buildings and structures. Almost anything constructed on or attached to the ground or attached to something located on the ground is considered a structure, including fences, walls greater than 18 inches tall, antennas, and pools more than 24 inches deep. Accessory buildings (i.e., storage sheds, playhouses, etc.)
However, all buildings and structures, regardless of whether they require a building permit, are subject to development standards and code requirements, including those that are temporary or portable. Before erecting or constructing anything on your property, you should first consult with Development Services.
Do I need to apply for my own permit?
State law requires that either a licensed contractor or the owner of the property obtain the building permit. Please provide the following when applying for a building permit.
A. Proof of ownership (Deed, driver’s license, etc.)
A. Original certificate of workman's compensation insurance made out to the City of Bartow.
B. Proof of current State Contractor's license.
How do I go about obtaining the necessary approvals and permits?
The first step is to stop by the Building Department at City Hall to discuss what you would like to do. You should bring along a preliminary site plan/plot plan that shows the shape and dimensions of your property, any adjacent streets, and the locations of all existing and proposed buildings and structures on the property. Usually this can be a simple pencil drawing on an 8-1/2" x 11" paper. At that point, City staff will tell you what the next steps in the approval/permitting process will be. Some projects will require more technical drawings. City staff will assist you in determining the level of detail that is needed for your particular project.
Do I need separate permits if my plans involve electrical, plumbing, and mechanical work?
Yes, separate permits are required for this type of work. The Development Services will tell you if you need to get these permits.
How long does a permit last?
You must begin work within 180 days from the date the permit is issued. Once work has begun, the permit will expire if work is stopped for more than 180 days. If necessary, extensions can be arranged through the Building Department.