When to Get a Building Permit for Your Basement Finish

When to Get a Building Permit & What Happens if You Don't Get One

Hello, I’m Caleb with Dansie Design Build. So today, I’m answering the question, when do I need building permits, and what happens if I don’t get one?

Utah State Law for Building Permits

In Utah, the state law says that for any electrical, plumbing, structural framing, or HVAC work that needs to be done, a permit must be filed for that project. Anytime you’re doing an extensive home remodel, you’re going to need to have a building permit. The only exception to that will be if you’re only doing cosmetic upgrades like flooring or painting. Those do not require a building permit.

Building Permit Costs

So building permit costs are calculated based on a formula the local city or county has, and typically there’s one of two ways. The first is based on the square footage, and the second is based on the anticipated construction cost, so it’ll be a percentage of the construction cost. So each city will have its way of doing that, and one thing they need is a good set of plans to review in the review process. After they review those plans, that’s when they can determine what the cost of that permit is going to be.

Who Applies for the Building Permit?

The general contractor or the builder who is doing the project is the one who’s responsible for going to the city, applying for a permit and filing, and receiving the approval to get that building permit through the city or county. So ultimately, it’s the builder’s responsibility. Suppose a homeowner goes through and is acting as a general contractor themselves or self-building the project. In that case, they will be responsible for all the inspections and everything that goes along with the city’s requirements. So at the end of the day, it’s an excellent idea to have your builder apply for the permits so that they can be responsible to the city for the entire process of the building and everything that’s going on with the inspections and complying with the codes that are enforced in your local jurisdiction.

Once Your Building Permit is Approved

So once your plans are submitted to the city and approved, you’ll receive a packet of information, including the actual building permit signed by everyone who needs to have signed it. You’ll also receive an approved plan set with any notes or modifications that the local jurisdiction, the city, or the county is requesting that be made or are actually, at that point, required to be part of the project. So those things are going to be given to you or your builder. So it’s a requirement to leave those on-site at the project at all times so that if an inspector comes by or anybody who’s working on the project comes by, they can consult those plans, look at them and make sure that they’re building things the way that the city approved them at the approval of the permit process.

What Happens if You Don't Get a Building Permit?

So if you choose not to get a building permit, there are immediate and delayed consequences. So in the immediate situation, you can get red-tagged, which means that an inspector finds your home under construction or a remodel. They verify that there’s no active permit on the property. So they can red tag the project to shut it down and then require that you comply with all of the requirements that would’ve been there and approve everything with the city building department, the zoning department, and potentially the engineering department before continuing the work. 

Now you can also, if none of those things are going to go through or any of those aren’t going to go through, they can require that any progress made is demolished and undone. So it can be devastating and a massive waste of time and money and very frustrating if that happens.

Delayed Consequences of Not Getting a Building Permit

Some of the delayed consequences are when you go to sell or purchase a home, and the buyers find that there needs to be a permit on file for some significant project that’s happened. They can figure that out and put two and two together that there’s been some improvements done, or an addition done, or a basement finished, and you would owe back taxes on all the years that you had not been paying taxes on that property. That also goes with additional fines, fees, and many problems in selling. So that can make somebody want to move on to the next house and buy a different property.


There is a stigma that goes along with working with the government that getting building permits will be slow, painful, and expensive. But the reality is that building permits help the process. They’re an excellent thing. They are built-in checks and balances to the building and construction process to help another set of eyes look at the project and inspect items and make sure that everything’s being built according to code to protect your family and your finances from any corners that could be potentially cut or just things that are accidentally missed in the building process. Building permits are a really good thing and help us build a better America.

Contact Dansie Design Build

If you want to finish your basement or remodel your home, you can request a consultation, and we’ll reach out to you. We also have a resources tab with tons of information for you to access, such as a home remodeling cost guide, a basement finishing cost guide, and a basement finishing cost calculator. So check it out! Have an excellent rest of your day!


Have you wondered what it costs to finish a basement in Salt Lake and Utah Counties?  Our basement finishing cost guide will give you everything you need to know.

  • Pricing for 1000 and 1500 square foot basement finishes
  • Pricing to include a bathroom, a kitchen, or open square footage
  • Pricing for Basic, Average, and Luxury Level Finishes
  • Basement walkout entrance pricing
  • Real project costs for basements we have finished
  • How to avoid the most costly mistakes while finishing a basement




Download the basement finishing cost guide

Download our FREE basement finishing cost guide. Inside we go over everything you’ll want to know.

  • Pricing calculation for any sized basement
  • Pricing to include a bathroom, a kitchen, a laundry room, or open square footage
  • Basement walkout entrance pricing
  • How to avoid the most costly mistakes while finishing a basement