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Home Building Costs - How Much Building Inspectors Add to the Cost to Build a Home

A chunk of every home building budget goes to the inspector.
Those sneaky people who come to poke around, slow you down, and make you redo what you've already done.
Sometimes it seems like your local building authority is ready to dispatch one to analyze every move you make.
  Are you planning to build or remodel? Well, you gotta pay the man.
And sometimes those building department fees really add up.
  Owner Builders and the Local Building Authority   Over the years, I've discovered that owner builders are mystified by the requirements of their local building authorities.
They worry about the code requirements, the submission of plans, and the inspections.
Often, owner builders are baffled by what seems like unjustifiable costs for permits.
  Here's an outline of some of the costs you should expect and the reasons you are being charged.
My goal isn't necessarily to justify them, but to reduce the mystery so that you can be empowered to move forward with your project.
  The Dreaded "Permits & Fees"   Just another form of taxation? I hear that a lot and in a way, it could be true.
Building Departments are government agencies and salaries and bureaucracies cost money.
But, let's take a look at this from a practical standpoint so you can figure your costs and budget accordingly.
  These represent some of the most common and your agencies could require more or less:  
  • Compliance with universal and local building codes: You're actually paying for them to hire structural engineers to review every single plan that comes across their desk each day.
    They scrutinize every aspect of the structure.
  • Health and Safety departments: Fire safety and other departments have to put their stamps of approvals on things.
  • Parks and common areas: Expansion and maintenance of local parks & recreation departments are often involved in cities and counties.
  • Schools: This, as well as all of the fees, can vary.
    Is your area growing rapidly?
  • Utilities and hook-ups: Gaining access to city sewer, electrical grid, water, etc.
    can be rather costly but the alternatives can be substantially more expensive.
  • Mitigation and variances: It is becoming quite common in many areas to charge impact fees to help find ways to balance growth and building with the environment.
    If you're in an area where this is prevalent, the fees can be exorbitant.
  • Periodic inspections: Yes, these are the guys and gals that come and snoop around.
  So what does all this add to the cost of building a home? Generally, you can figure on less than 5% of your overall budget.
Your local building authority should be happy to provide you with a list of all the fees and I recommend that is one of the first things you should do when thinking about building.
  Where to Get Help With Complying   Finally, you very likely need some help getting your plans through the building department's approval processes.
As always, I advise people to use experienced building professionals and recommend a home building coach.
Your coach will point you towards other professionals as well.
  Another suggestion would be to use a local architect, designer, or drafter in conjunction with a structural engineer.
With this approach, most of your fears will vanish as they will not only design the home in accordance with all the codes, they will back up their work and make any changes the building authority requires.

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