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Mar 05 2010

Permit it or forget it: From home repairs to construction, Seabrook requires building permits

Construction_Site“From time to time, people on the island complain because their contractor has to get a permit for this or that,” said Randy Pierce, the Town Administrator for Seabrook Island. “But it’s for a very good reason that we ask them to do this.” Not only are Seabrook residents required to comply with Charleston County’s building codes, said Pierce, the requirements are also there for their safety. “It kills me to hear when someone on the island hires someone to do some work for them and they pay half up front and then they never see the guy again. The whole situation could have been avoided with a quick, two minute call to Town Hall.”

With any construction on the island, a resident needs to have a zoning permit from Town Hall before requesting a building permit from Charleston County. The Town Permit is $25 for repairs and $100 for additions, renovations and new construction. The Charleston County Permit may run from nothing to $75 on most repairs. Any renovations, additions or new construction is based on the cost of the job. This rule doesn’t apply to simple improvements, such as the property owner choosing to paint an interior wall or lay tile, but if the property owner has hired anyone to do that job for them, that person is required at a minimum to have a business license on the island, as well as a specialty license (For specialties such as “painter” or “carpenter”). Individuals are allowed to have up to three specialty licenses each, a rule which prevents a single person from, say, building an extension on a house on their own. For any contractor doing work on a residential home, they should either have a residential license or a general license as well as a zoning permit and building permit. There is no dollar limit to permitting; if a contractor has been hired, they’re required to be permitted.

Again, Pierce stressed that this is not only for compliance with Charleston County regulations, but also to keep the residents safe. “When applying for any license, the person must show that they are bonded for a minimum of $5,000 and, if they have more than three employees, that they also provide worker’s compensation.” This rule allows the State to become involved if something goes wrong with the construction/renovation of a personal residence or if something is not done to the owner’s satisfaction. “But if the person isn’t bonded or licensed, the State can’t do anything,” said Pierce. “And as for the worker’s comp regulation, if a worker is injured in your home and doesn’t have worker’s comp, then you, the homeowner, are liable.”

Piece also noted that the Town has two code enforcement officers, Maurice Glunt and Frank Rivers who are former building code inspectors/supervisors for Charleston County. “They know most of the contractors and know what to expect on a jobsite,” said Pierce. They have the ability to write citations, but the purpose is simply to make sure that everything is being done in compliance with the law.

If you have any questions about building permits or would like to check on a contractor’s licensing, please call Seabrook Town Hall at 768-9121.

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