FRUIT HEIGHTS -- Some home-owners may be taking an unnecessary risk as they get their homes repaired from last winter's windstorm.
A single piece of paper stating their repairs are to code may be the only thing standing between a homeowner's peace of mind and problems that could occur down the road.
At a recent city council meeting, council members wanted to know how many building permits had been issued by the city in recent months, given the increase in repairs on wind-damaged homes.
City officials wondered if home-owners may be paying contractors, or perhaps worse, doing the repairs on their homes themselves, without realizing they may need a building permit.
Though building permits vary by city, Fruit Heights requires permits for any complete reroofing job. Permits aren't required for shingles overlaid on the existing roof. The city also requires permits on sheds, detached garages, swimming pools, fences and basements.
"A lot of people just aren't aware that it needs to be done," said City Planner Jeff Oyler.
Oyler said the $120 building permit fee is not intended as revenue for the city, but merely to cover the cost of the two inspections included with the building permit.
"They're doing it as a community service to help people get things done properly," said Oyler. "If you're going to spend the money to get your roof redone, it's the peace of mind to know it's been done properly."
Some contractors may get a building permit for the homeowner, but ultimately the responsibility for acquiring a permit is on the homeowner.
"One of the main reasons a building permit is important from a home-
owner's standpoint is that if something is required in the code and they don't get a permit for it, they can get sideways with the insurance company," Oyler said.
City Manager Brandon Green expounded on what can happen when a homeowner doesn't get a building permit.
"What residents need to realize is that if they're going to make a claim against their insurance and it involves an issue that required a permit, their insurance has the option to not cover them because they didn't follow the proper procedures," Green said.
"People who finish their basement and have a flood, or try to sell their home with a finished basement without a permit, often have to go back and make repairs or adjust things that were out of compliance with code so they can claim insurance damages or sell their home."
Basically, it can save homeowners a lot of aggravation in the long run, Green said. The city has no way of policing or enforcing the need for building permits.
Green also pointed out that many residents may not be aware of the need to get a permit for any pool more than three feet deep. Any of the big, inflatable pools that can be purchased at local retail stores need to fit city ordinances that require it to be set a certain distance from the home and have the proper fencing around the pool for safety reasons.