Running an adult foster care home can be stressful enough, but when you expand or remodel, how do you know that the home you and your residents live in is up to, or even built to, current standards and codes for safety? Permits seem like an added hassle and expense, so what are they for? Are they necessary for all work being completed on the home?
Why Do I need a Permit?
Permits protect you and your home by having experts in the code and construction field verify your home is built to minimum safety standards by licensed, insured contractors. Part of a licensed contractor's responsibility is to know the codes and procedures for obtaining a permit when required.
Permits are required by law and may be required for insurance purposes. Additionally, Oregon Administrative Rule requires any remodeling that must have a permit to be permitted. Licensing will request proof of permitted work.
Also, if work was done without a permit in your home, you may be required to upgrade the home to current code standards or have the work done without a permit demolished. Building codes have evolved over time and are subject to constant change, so it is important to have a contractor who knows code, as well as the construction knowledge for the work to be performed.
Who Oversees Permits?
Inspections are performed by individuals who work for the local government. They are referred to as the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and are required to have state and national certifications for their respective inspection trades. The inspector will verify the work is completed per approved plans that have been reviewed for compliance with local and state codes that state minimum requirements for structural, mechanical, plumbing, electrical and life safety. There are few exceptions for what does not need a permit, but all work done must still meet the code.
Working with a Licensed Contractor
Is your contractor licensed? Be sure to check the Oregon Construction Contractors Board to verify a contractor's license status. Ask your licensed contractor about the requirements for construction activities on your AFH, as they should be able to tell you if you need a permit. If you are not sure, or are not satisfied with their answer, call the local building department in your jurisdiction and they can answer your questions.
Remember that it is your home and your responsibility to meet all requirements for alterations and modifications to the AFH, so when in doubt, contact your local building department. This will ensure your home meets minimum building code and safety standards, which will help keep all occupants of the adult foster home safe.
About the Author
Isaac Elting McGuire is co-owner and inspection consultant with Oregon Care Home Consulting & Training and co-owner/general contractor with Care Construction Northwest. He has 25 years of experience in the construction field, including 10 years as a city building inspector.