As with any area of law, the legal dos and don’ts of the home improvement industry are constantly changing. Above all, building laws and codes are made to keep professionals and homeowners safe but they can also have other motives. For example, some neighborhoods might prohibit buildings taller than 3 stories while others might not allow planting certain types of plants that can become invasive. The point is, there are volumes of laws dictating what you can and can’t do to your house.

Why We’re Asking

You aren’t expected to be versed in family law to get married and you certainly don’t need a degree in international justice to take a trip to Cancun, so you shouldn’t need expertise in building codes to build a new deck or add a mother-in-law apartment to your dream home. Nonetheless, homeowners get caught violating building codes all the time and sometimes, the project will simply be scrapped among other penalties and fees. It’s a problem that’s particularly common in the DIY sphere, but can happen even with professionals. We want to help homeowners build within the law, so we asked our panel of home improvement experts.

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

What Should Homeowners Know About Building Laws and Codes?

Can you rely on contractors to take care of any permits and regulations that are necessary?
What about smaller jobs that only involve one professional: a plumber, roofer or electrician? Are they responsible for following all building laws?
How do you know when a project might violate a local building law or code?
What are the usual penalties for violating building codes?
If you have an old project that violates a new building code, what happens?

We’re hoping to prevent some homeowner headaches with tips from our experts. Check back later in the week to see what they have to say!

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!