Many homeowners think of large scale projects; like constructing a garage, building a shed, or replacing a roof— with building permits, but in fact, there are many home additions or projects that require city or county authorization. When it’s time to replace your air conditioning/HVAC unit with a new system, permits are a step that can’t be skipped. At Paschal Air, Plumbing, & Electric, we help you avoid the hassle by coordinating with city and county officials on your behalf to pull permits. Here is what you need to know ahead of your air conditioning replacement.
Whether you attempt a DIY installation (which may be illegal in your area without proper licensing) or contract an HVAC company, there are safeguards to make sure the installation is safe for you and your family: permits and inspections.
HVAC Installation is Complicated
Installing a new HVAC system is not a DIY project. Removing an old HVAC system and installing a new one involves a lot of work and expertise. Installers need a thorough knowledge of electrical systems as well as air conditioning and furnace operation. Making sure that you have the correct HVAC system for your home is also important. Our expert HVAC technicians undergo rigorous, extensive training – both in the classroom and on the job. They never stop learning about HVAC repair and replacement.
A local government issues a building permit to give a contractor or homeowner permission to alter, move, or add to structures on their property.
Alterations that require permits are typically more permanent. For example, you need a permit to install or remove a furnace or air conditioner. But you don’t need a permit for a new stove if you don’t have to move gas lines.
Permits are required by law. Before work can begin, contractors must obtain, or “pull,” a permit.
Your city, municipality and/or subdivision may have different restrictions and requirements. But regardless of your location, an HVAC installation requires a permit.
A licensed contractor – in HVAC and other industries – should be able to help with any questions you may have on the permit and inspection processes for your area.
If they can’t, contact your city or municipality for more information.
What Is an Inspection?
An inspection ensures that the permitted job was done correctly. During a third-party inspection, a city building inspector checks that the installation follows local and state building codes as well as manufacturer specifications. The inspector isn’t there to inspect your home. They typically only focus on the installation unless they notice something wildly unsafe. Your permit fees cover the cost of an inspection. If the equipment was installed improperly, you or your contractor may have to pay for additional inspections. Some jobs may require more than one inspection. For example, if you’re building a new house or remodeling, you’ll likely need a two-trip permit. This covers a “rough” inspection and a final inspection. During a rough inspection, the inspector looks at what’s behind the walls before it gets covered up. This ensures that equipment that will be harder to get to later is installed correctly. A final inspection generally happens after the drywall goes up, the paint’s applied, and the trim and registers go on. This usually happens right before you move it. Smaller projects, like the replacement of HVAC equipment, may not have such stringent timelines for inspections. Once your contractor obtains a permit, you have a year to get the project inspected.
Even knowledgeable, licensed contractors can miss things every now and then. There are a lot of factors in installing HVAC equipment in residential homes. But that’s why inspections are so important.
Why Do I Need a Permit and Inspection for HVAC Work?
Even if local and state governments didn’t legally require them, permits and inspections would still be important.
Permits and inspections protect you.
An inspection ensures that your equipment is safe for you and your family. This means that inspectors check that the installation aligns with the manufacturer’s specifications as well as local and state building codes.
While some HVAC contractors don’t pull permits because it saves them time and money, many are also concerned that their work won’t stand up to scrutiny.
Law Requires City to Inspect
Laws require city inspection of many home renovation projects including installation of HVAC systems. The inspection process for a city is designed to make sure that all buildings are safe. The process most cities require is:
- Submit a plan
- Get a permit
- Do the installation
- Have an inspection.
- Approval or changes suggested (requiring re-inspection)
- Permit closed
Since HVAC systems involve installers to have a thorough knowledge of electrical systems as well as heating and cooling systems, you want to make sure you hire a quality company to do your work. You want a company that can do the project right the first time. Make sure the company is licensed, trained and insured. Expertise in HVAC installation and familiarity with city codes will also make the project go more smoothly.
City Inspection Ensures Codes Followed
While getting a city inspection of your new HVAC system seems like jumping through a hoop, in reality, the process of city inspections of buildings makes sure that you and your city comply with state, federal and local building codes. More importantly, inspections make sure that the project was done correctly. An experienced HVAC installer will know how to comply with city inspection rules and will be happy to fill out all of the paperwork for you.
The reason that air conditioning permits are important is that they guarantee that the equipment being installed in your home, and the people installing said equipment is up to par with the government & the EPA’s energy efficiency standards. Every air conditioning unit is assigned SEER ratings (which stands for its seasonal energy efficiency ratio) which guarantee that the system is safe and environmentally friendly. During the permit process, the contractor must record how your home’s equipment makes the grade.
A city inspection of all HVAC installations keeps everyone safe, and making sure your new HVAC system is installed by the experienced professionals at Paschal will make that inspection go quickly and easily.
The Consequences Of Not Having A Permit
Permits are a crucial part of the home improvement/project process, and doing work without the proper permits and paperwork can result in penalties and possibly fines down the line. If city or county code enforcement officials find out that work has been done without following due process, it could lead to fines and fees that the homeowner (you) will have to pay for.
Not only that, but if you sell plan to your home, home inspectors may see the gaps between a new or replaced unit and raise concerns about lack of permits & paperwork. This could result in backtracking, hiring additional contractors, and (if necessary) fixing the work: this time with the appropriate permits.
For more information on having a new HVAC system installed in your Northwest Arkansas, SW Missouri, or Fort Smith River Valley home contact us at Paschal Air, Plumbing, & Electric.
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