As architects and engineers we are typically in the business of providing permit drawings before people do construction. But sometimes people choose to build something without getting the proper permits and when someone turns you in, you’ll receive a stop work order. When that happens you need to get a permit in order to finish the project and to receive a certificate of occupancy.
When we are hired in these conditions our first task is to draw the conditions prior to your modifications and the conditions that you have built. Then we need to confirm if your plans meet code and help you prepare a set of drawings that are permittable. The building department does not care what you’ve already built, rather they still want to see something code compliant. They’ll review the permit set in the same way they would any other plan. If the plans differ from what you’ve built, you’ll need to make the changes.
In the end, you’ll still end up paying for a permit set and you’ll be waiting for the permitting process in the middle of construction. You’ll also risk making changes to pieces that you have already finished. You’re always better off getting a permit prior to beginning construction, but if you haven’t, its time to hire an architect.