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Anytime you need to consider rebuilding part of your house, a permit is likely needed. No matter if you are considering something like a basement finish or a new roof, a permit is likely involved. Keep in mind that you should always call your local home inspection team before you begin any home upgrades. Do you need a permit to finish a basement? It is recommended that you have a permit to ensure everything was done correctly.

Let’s take a look below at what is involved and why.

What Is A Finished Basement?

A finished basement is simply when you take the shell of your basement and create a comfortable living space. Many homeowners will maximize the additional square footage in their basements to add an extra bedroom, entertainment space, bathroom, or even laundry room. Also, if the basement square footage is large enough, you could end up with all of these spaces in one area. Consequently, this is a great investment in your home as it will increase the resale value and add to the aesthetics of the interior of your home.

A finished basement can become multiple spaces and have added rooms to your home.

How Does The Permit Process Work?

Believe it or not, the permit process can be somewhat involved. Make sure that you have taken the necessary steps to complete the permit process. Let’s take look below at what you will need.

  • Drawing to scale – You will need design plans that show the room descriptions with labels, and the height of the ceiling. Also, smoke detector locations and electrical, plumbing, and HVAC locations are needed.
  • Permit application and fee – You will see the required paperwork on your local municipality’s website. Additionally, the application fee is typically around $1 per square foot.
  • Inspections during construction – Once the permit is received you can begin construction. However, it is required that the municipal building inspector conducts inspections after framing, electric installation, and plumbing installation. This ensures things are safe and secure.
  • Final inspection – Once the inspector has signed off on all of the areas listed above, you can proceed to the completion of the project. It is required that a final inspection be conducted so that the inspector signs off on the permit.

What Happens If I Don’t Get A Permit?

Always ask questions of your local building code inspector. They can inform you of what projects require a building permit. Consequently, not getting a permit for your finished basement could come with some consequences. Let’s take a look below at what those are.

  • Tax bill increase – The longer you take to get a permit for your finished basement the more money you could end up owing. Your tax bill is typically based on the livable square footage of your home.
  • Insurance issues – Insurance companies want to see that your finished basement is permitted. If you don’t get a permit then the added living space does not get added to your square footage and home building plans. Therefore, the insurance company has no idea it is even there to be insured. Long story short, they will not cover the expenses of any damages to your finished basement.
  • Resale is not likely possible – When a buyer is looking to purchase a home, they want to ensure that all permits were applied for and executed. Having documentation on every upgrade or update to a home is key for any buyer. They don’t want to end up with a surprise tax bill after they purchase the home.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you are aware of permit requirements for your finished basement, you can start to read up on what a finished basement actually consists of. For many homeowners, this idea or concept can be vastly different. For some, it is an elaborate entertaining space, and for others, it is simply a place to sit and relax.

Next, look into how to increase the air quality in your finished basement. Getting this done while the basement is being finished would make the most sense.

Lastly, make sure that you are communicating with the contractor that is finishing your basement. It is important to note that GFCI outlets should be installed in your finished basement. Be sure to read up on why this is important so that you can ensure that your electrical needs are handled correctly.

Constructing a finished basement requires a permit and takes time.

When Do I Call A Professional?

If you have decided to create a living space out of your basement, be sure to pull the permit from your local municipal permit office. Additionally, consult with multiple contractors to see what type of quotes or estimates you can get. It is always a good idea to get multiple quotes for the project. Also, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect the basement to ensure the structures are sound before you pour money into building your finished basement. Additionally, they can refer you to a reputable professional contractor to complete the project.


Deciding to finish your basement takes a huge investment. Since you are willing to invest in creating a fun and comfortable living space, you want to make sure that you follow all of the steps that are necessary to protect your investment. Pulling permits are the main key to protecting your investment. Your local municipality will use your permit to ensure the contractors complete the project correctly, and safely. Call on Enviroquest Home Inspections for a basement and complete a home inspection in Harrisburg, PA.

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