Will County homeowners who need to replace a door, window, siding or roof are required to get a building permit, but county board member Steve Balich, R-Homer Township, wants to change that.
Most people don’t know they need such a permit or they think it’s “absurd,” he said at a recent meeting of the board’s land use committee.
“Why have a law if people don’t even know it exists?” said Balich, a committee member, adding that it is “illogical” to require a permit for routine maintenance work that does not change the structure of the house.
“People don’t want to pay for permits for maintenance items,” he said.
Committee members agreed to discuss the issue, with some saying that a permit should be required for matters of “life safety.”
According to the Land Use Department, it costs $50 for a permit to replace a door or window and $8 more for every $1,000 of construction cost.
Mike Smetana, director of the building division, outlined several reasons why these permits are required:
•To ensure doors and windows provide a reliable way out in case of a fire
•To ensure that any structural changes to the rough opening will not result in structural failure
•To make sure contractors doing the work are licensed, bonded and insured
•To meet the manufacturers’ installation specifications to prevent voiding the warranty
•To guarantee compliance with the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code
Building permits also are required for installing a new furnace, plumbing or electrical service, but not for installation of cabinets, countertops, flooring, and minor plumbing, Smetana said.
“Some of these things make sense, others don’t,” said committee member Judy Ogalla, R-Monee.
Committee chairman Tom Weigel, R-New Lenox, said he would not support eliminating permits when it relates to a life safety matter.
But Balich said the laws “should be consistent with what people do. You are saying people cannot replace a door or window without hiring someone.”
County board member Don Moran, D-Romeoville, said permits are “to protect the residents and future residents, not to be a hindrance.”
If there is “shoddy workmanship,” the homeowner is “left in the lurch,” he said.
In 2017, there were a total of 2,069 complaints, including 62 for building without a permit and two of those were for doors and windows, Smetana said. “There are not copious amounts of people complaining.”