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Why Knowing Building Regulations is Crucial for Your Michigan Remodel

February 20th, 2023 | 3 min read

By Aaron King

Construction worker looking over building plans

While remodeling your home is an exciting and rewarding experience, it also requires a great deal of planning and research. A vital step in any remodeling project is to understand your local building regulations.

Building regulations are necessary because they make sure your project is safe and aligned with local priorities. Not following these rules can result in project delays, fines, and legal issues in some cases.

As a home remodeler with over 15 years of experience, we work very closely with our local building authorities and can help you understand their rules. Knowing these guidelines while planning your project is crucial for project success.

In this article, you will learn how local building regulations differ from Michigan’s state guidelines. You will also come to understand the consequences for not following regulations, and learn who to contact for updated guideline information.

Townships and cities can override Michigan’s state rules

In Michigan, the state, city, and township each establishes their own sets of building regulations. The regulations that apply to your project will depend on your address.

While the state sets broad guidelines for construction and remodeling projects, townships and cities often set their own, more restrictive regulations. It’s important to know that local regulations override the more lenient state rules.

Differences in guidelines between the state and local levels can affect every aspect of your project. You’ll want to understand these differences, even where they seem small, to ensure your project complies with local laws.

It is important to note that the state’s building code website will not contain the local guidelines that take precedence over your project. To understand the regulations specific to your area, you should reach out to your local building department.

What can happen if you don’t follow your local rules

When it comes to building and remodeling projects, failure to follow your local regulations can have serious consequences. If you don't follow your local rules, building departments can compel you to:

Pay fines: Your local building department has the authority to levy fines for knowingly operating without a permit or not following their regulations.

Alter your project: The building department has the authority to order changes to your project if it violates the local building code. You will need to follow the guidelines they set.

Demolish and start from scratch: If your project cannot be altered, the building department can order you to tear it down and start from scratch to conform to their regulations.

Any time or money already spent will be lost if the building department determines that you must start over to comply with its rules.

Shut down your construction site: In addition to all of the above, your building department can force you to shut down construction altogether. Typically, this happens when someone is operating without a building license or permit, or knowingly concealing improper work flagged by an inspector.

Your local building regulations can change

You’ll want to keep in mind that building regulations can change at any time and stay informed about the most up-to-date local regulations.

It's not uncommon to ask advice from a handyman or a friend who has been working on projects for many years only to find out that they are operating on knowledge of outdated regulations.

Understanding the most current building ordinances will prevent unnecessary errors or delays from occurring during construction.

To stay up-to-date with regulations for your project, talk to your local building department. They can give you the most current information and guide you through the permit and approval process.

Contact information for Mid-Michigan building departments that we work with is provided below for your convenience:

Delhi Township: (517) 699-3866

Delta Township: (517) 323-8530

Dewitt: (517) 668-0278

East Lansing: (517) 319-6810

Grand Ledge: (517) 668-0278

Lansing: (517) 483-4355

Mason: (517) 676-9155

Meridian Township & Okemos: (517) 853-4506

Williamston & Livingston County: (517) 546-3240

Next steps after researching your building regulations 

Planning your home remodel is a big undertaking. However, with good information and proper planning, you can have a rewarding experience as well as a project you’re happy with.

With over 15 years of home remodeling experience, we are here to help you with all aspects of home remodeling, including helping you understand the building regulations that pertain to your project.

We also understand that planning a home remodel can be overwhelming. If you’re looking for someone to manage the remodeling process for you, we’d love to talk to you about your project. Reach out to one of our project development advisors to see if we are the right fit as a contractor for your remodel.

Learn more about planning for your home remodeling project:

Aaron King

Aaron has been in the building industry his entire life. He worked in his family’s housing business growing up in Dewitt, MI, and for nearly 40 years, built homes in the Mid-Michigan area. He has also worked with the Greater Lansing Home Builder’s Association since he was 18 years old.