With just about any home improvement in El Paso and Teller counties, homeowners are required to pull a permit with the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) in Colorado Springs… anything from basement finishes, decks, electrical/plumbing updates, water heaters, furnaces, adding outbuildings… the list goes on! Their website is relatively user-friendly.
What we know about PPRBD
They often get a bad rap for high fees, very structured property visit guidelines, and being extremely particular. If we keep in mind that these codes exist to keep us safe, then hopefully we can all have a great attitude about the process. The codes do change almost annually, and they have a lot to keep up with. If you request a visit on building inspection, as long as you request by 8 am, they will come the same day. (see hours listed in chart below)
As you can imagine there are hundreds of thousands of homes here, and they do everything they can to remain organized. The rules are all posted online and homeowners can pull their own permits, general contractor not required, but all the same rules apply. I do not think their fees are really all that high.
Why you might contact PPRBD for a permit
If you are doing any number of projects on your home, you might need to contact them. Here are some of the most common reasons, but there are probably hundreds:
building a home (yes the owner can do this themselves, all the same requirements apply)
finishing a basement (owner can be the general contractor or contractor can, all the same permit fees & rules apply)
adding a utility service to a property
moving electrical, gas, water service (new plumbing location for any fixtures or electrical hook-ups)
adding electrical, gas, water service (i.e. hot tub, new laundry hook-up location, new fireplace, etc)
moving or adding mechanical systems (i.e. central air, water heater, etc.)
structural changes (i.e. moving/removing a supporting wall, changing a door or window location, etc.)
replacing any mechanical system (furnace, water heater, humidifier, central air)
decks attached to the home
adding buildings to a property (have to meet PPRBD requirements, as well as any pertinent HOA, covenants, set-backs, county building code, etc.)
adding a ceiling fan
For any of the above services, inviting PPRBD into your home means they will likely also check your smoke and CO detectors, so make sure those are up-to-date.
My personal experiences with Regional
We had the unfortunate issue last summer of having to terminate an agreement with a contractor mid-bathroom-remodel. It was extremely stressful. So 4 permits had been pulled – general building, heating, plumbing and electrical. And we were in a skeleton of the bathroom we had envisioned. As we approached new contractors to assist us, we realized much of the work was finalized and could be moved into our name. The contractor that helped us finish also helped us with PPRBD. My husband is really handy and did the work himself with the assistance of a contractor that worked on our kitchen. The plumber had fortunately been paid from beginning to end of the project. When my husband called them, we were stressed, but they were very helpful getting him to the right person with the answers. They voided permits and re-opened them in our name so we could conclude the project. Our electrician had skipped town, taking advantage of several customers, fortunately not us!
I also had a client do a bunch of work himself, wanting to list his home with Springs Homes without appropriate permits. We are all about honesty and told him he must openly disclose the details of the non-permitted work all over the MLS listing, get professional plumber and electrician to sign off on the work, and even demolish some of the work done. He was concerned about the time and expense of going through Regional, but he would have saved time & money had he done it from the start! For more about how to pull your own or requirements, here is that website www.PPRBD.org. Happy (and safe) Home Improvement!!
The moral of the story (this blog) is that while our local Building Department is a big machine, they have been very helpful in many cases and even friendly. I’m sure it’s a stressful job, and I strongly believe the safety of the homes in our counties is of utmost concern. I have learned so much from the inspectors visiting our home over the years!
Update of Rules
As I mentioned, there are changes annually, here are just a few I know of, again, I’m sure there are hundreds I don’t know:
Effective July 2011 Carbon Monoxide detectors are REQUIRED! We cannot sell homes without them. If you open any permit, expect the inspectors to check that your CO detectors are up to code (1 within 15 feet of every sleeping area/bedroom).
There are new requirements for arc-fault outlets & switches.
When you replace a water heater, the subsequent gas line requires replacement as well. (Many people try to replace water heater by just buying a new one and popping it in the spot where the old one was… easy peasy… well, not so much because you still need a permit.)
Backlog of permits waiting for approval
Occasionally there is a backlog of inspections, for instance, the fires of 2012 & 2013 and the catastrophic hail storm in July 2016 caused a variety of back-ups. If there is a home trying to close on the resale market, it’s possible during these backlog events that permits cannot be closed before closing happens. It might behoove homeowners and buyers to get a written letter from contractors guaranteeing work will be complete/corrected if there are any hang-ups in the permit process.