Ask the Architect

There are reasons for the rules


Q. My neighbors are getting a “repair permit” but I don’t really care about doing that. I doubt there will ever be a problem if I’m only putting back sheetrock and insulation. Why would I need a permit for something I do inside my home? It’s nobody’s business what I do. I’m sure my contractor knows how to fix my house without any inspectors looking over their shoulder.

A. Your observation is shared by so many that it’s hard to disagree. I can only answer your question/observation/complaint with basic rationale. The repair permit reasoning focuses on safety and code compliance, like the old debate about why anyone should be ordered to wear a seatbelt, put a child in a child seat, use a turn signal —you get the idea. Some authority thinks people need to be safe, even if it means placing demands on them to protect them from themselves.

I regularly observe that people do what’s best for them, first, not necessarily thinking about anyone else. They neglect to buckle up or put the baby in the car seat because it takes time and is inconvenient. They forget how to move their pinky finger up and down on the turn signal because it’s really a strain to have to warn others that the 3,000-pound weapon they’re operating is about to change someone else’s life. Self-absorption is hard to argue with, especially because the self-absorbed can’t imagine they share anything with others. Of course, I’m not saying that this describes you. You just don’t want government intruding in your life, and in a perfect world, you’re probably right. Probably, but not unequivocally.

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