While some Homeowners are ”Do It Yourselfers” and have the skills to make the necessary repairs, others will find the need to hire contractors to make the repairs for them. The Sumter City/County Building Inspections Department would like to offer guidance on how to maximize the quality of work and/or services rendered — whether they do the work themselves or hire a Licensed Professional.
Why do I need a building Permit?
Permits allow our Jurisdiction to inspect work performed by a contractor or yourself to make sure it’s safe and meets the minimum standards of the building code. This prevents your customers and (or) our citizens from being harmed by faulty installation while also allowing our Jurisdiction to verify a contractor’s license and keep a record of the work performed.
If you don’t get a permit for work performed on your building, you may run into problems when trying to sell it. Real Estate agents usually check to make sure permits were obtained for repair work. You may also run into problems if a contractor performs work on your home without the proper license. If you try to take a contractor to court and he doesn’t have a license to perform the work and didn’t get a Building Permit, it will be hard for the judge to rule in your favor.
If work is performed without a permit, you may be fined or your permit fee may be doubled. Contractors working without a permit may be reported to the State Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
What types of work do not require a building permit?
The following is a listing of work that does not require a permit:
Flooring & Carpeting
Retaining Walls not over four feet in height and not providing structural Support
Installing Cabinets and (or) Countertops
Swimming Pools less than twenty four inches deep, not exceeding 5,000 gallon capacity and is entirely above Ground
What types of work require a building permit?
It can be confusing trying to figure out what requires a Building Permit and what does not. If you are planning to do remodeling or other work on your home, there are several things that do require a Building Permit and Inspections. The following are a few examples.
Roofing – Installing new Shingles or other roofing materials
Windows – Replacing Windows
Siding - Vinyl, Wood, or Aluminum Siding or Trim Boards
Sheetrock – Replacing or installing sheetrock to remodel or finish an unfinished room
Framing – Adding new interior walls or extending an existing wall, creating a new door or opening in an existing wall
Plumbing – Replacing a sewer line or water line, adding plumbing to a room that did not previously have it, replacing water heater, installing an irrigation system
Electrical – Installing and (or) replacing wiring, adding outlets, lights, and (or) breakers
Mechanical – Installing heating and air units or equipment, installing ductwork
Gas – Installing or replacing gas lines
Any Structural Work
Swimming Pools (including Above Grounds) – Greater than 24 inches deep and water capacity is greater than 5,000 Gallons
Storage Buildings, Garages, Carports, Fences over 6 ft. in height
Can I work on my own home without hiring a contractor?
Yes, there are some types of work the State will allow you to do on your own home. This home must be your primary residence and Sumter County Tax Records and (or) Property Card lists you as the owner of said property. (However, if you have rental property, you cannot perform any construction work on these properties, you must hire a Licensed Contractor to work on these structures).
State regulations require you to live in the home you wish to work on for a period of two years. You must sign an Owner/Builder Affidavit (Disclosure Statement) and have it recorded with the Sumter County Register of Deeds before you can obtain a Building Permit. A homeowner is basically allowed to do any type of remodel or repair work on their primary residence only. That includes building, electrical, mechanical (heating and air), plumbing or gas. Any building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing and (or) gas work not done by the homeowner is required to be done by a State Licensed Contractor. You should obtain a Building Permit for any work that requires a Building Permit before starting the work. All Building Permits require Inspections by the Sumter City/County Building Inspections Department Inspectors.
Advice to consider when hiring a contractor:
Always have a contract in writing outlining exactly what the contractor is supposed to do. Make sure you both sign it.
Always check to see if a contractor has the proper licenses before he or she starts the work (See information below).
Make sure the contractor obtains a permit for any work he will perform and gets the building plans approved by the Sumter City/County Building Inspections Department prior to starting the work.
It’s ok to ask for references of work the contractor has done in the past. Call the references to find out if the customers were satisfied.
Warning: Homeowners, if you hire a contractor and they ask you to purchase the Building Permit for him or her please consider this as an indicator that all is not well. When or if this happens, contact the Sumter City/County Building Inspections Department Immediately at (803) 774-1600.
Also, if a contractor you have hired asks for money up front to purchase materials, it is advisable that you inform the contractor that you will give partial payment up front only after he presents to you a copy of the Building Permit for your project. The remaining balance will be paid only after you receive a copy of the approved final inspection.
(NOTE: This advice given is from past experiences by this department and is not a reflection on any single contractor)
How do I find out if a contractor has a license or is the right type?
You can check a Contractor’s state license or registration online at the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation at www.llr.state.sc.us. Click on licensee lookup. General Contractors and electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors should be listed under Commercial Contractors. For Residential, click on Residential Builders and electrical, plumbing and mechanical contractors should be listed. In addition to a State License, Contractor’s are required to have a Sumter City and (or) County Business License. We can also check this for you.
If you have questions or concerns, please contact the Sumter City/County Building Inspections Department at (803) 774-1617, or you can visit our office, open Monday-Friday, 8:30am - 5pm at 12 West Liberty Street, Sumter, SC 29150.