Home Improvement Projects

Are You Starting to Plan for a Home Improvement Project?

Before conducting any actual work it is always appropriate to check with the Bridgman Building Official /Zoning Administrator to learn if your project requires a building or other permit applications. A building permit is the legal document that allows construction to start and provides procedures for everyone to follow, in accordance with established construction design principals.

Projects Requiring a Permit

A building permit application is usually required for:
  • New buildings/dwellings
  • Additions to existing homes
  • Residential projects such as decks, garages, fences, pools, accessory structures, etc.
  • Garage conversions, basement upgrades, attic conversions
  • Re-roofing, re-siding, new windows, exterior door alterations or any framing alterations
  • Separate permit applications may be required for work involving:
  • Electric service/systems
  • Plumbing systems
  • HVAC -heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems
  • Work in the Critical Dune Area
An approved building permit ensures that the proposed construction meets minimum safety standards and allows code officials to protect the public by reducing potential hazards. Many insurance companies will not cover damage resulting from work performed without proper permits and inspections. Checking with the City Building Official before starting any project can reduce the chance of having to perform costly changes.

How to Choose a Homebuilder or Remodeler

Building a new home, adding space or remodeling your present home is a major investment. As you begin planning to build or improve your home there are important steps you should take to ensure that your investment is a wise one and that you are protected from loss or disappointment.

Finding a Contractor

Get the names of contractors from:
  • Friends or neighbors who have had satisfactory work accomplished
  • People at local home improvement centers, who can provide references
  • Local advertisements that include a license number, having a high quality reputation
  • Associations that are affiliated with the National Association of Home Builders
You should be aware that all contractors offering to do residential work must be licensed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Bureau of Construction Codes. A Residential Builders license allows a contractor to build a complete structure and do maintenance or alteration work. A Maintenance and Alteration license indicates that the holder has met the requirements for one or more of the following trades basement waterproofing, carpentry, concrete, excavation, house wrecking, insulation, masonry, painting and decorating, roofing, screen and storm sash, gutters, siding, swimming pools or tile and marble. The trades in which a contractor is qualified to practice are listed on the license.

Look for the License Before You Start

The license issued by the State of Michigan must be current and be available for you to review. You should always ask to see the license and make sure it is appropriate for the work proposed. If a license cannot be provided or is not including the proper category of work, then you may want to continue your search. Always ask for a copy of the approved building permit, as it is a legal document and should be included with your property records.

Working with an unlicensed builder or contractor is done at your own risk!

Get Estimates - Get It in Writing

It is advisable to get estimates from different contractors to compare prices. Remember the type of materials and quality of materials will greatly affect the bid A low bid based on inferior materials may not be any bargain, so consider more than the price alone Be sure the estimate specifies the total price, the terms of payment, the kind of materials to be used and the expected time it will take to complete the project Make sure special prices or discounts are a true deal and not just a gimmick to get your business.

When you have selected a licensed contractor, get all agreements in writing A written agreement or contract should make sure that all work is clearly addressed This will help to eliminate misunderstandings during the time of construction and after completion Make sure that you read all documents carefully. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you do not understand. If everything in the agreement is satisfactory, both the contractor and the homeowner are to sign and date the contract. Any changes or revisions are to be dated and initialed by both parties.