Amnesty program offered

You might be proud of the patio cover you built or the plumbing you installed using a how-to handbook.

If you never obtained a permit for the work, you could be punished for all your effort.

The good news is if you repaired or renovated a house in an unincorporated area, you can report it to the county until Sept. 2 and not pay penalties.

Clark County last week began a three-month amnesty program as part of a campaign to encourage residents to apply for permits and get inspections done when required. Failing to obtain a necessary permit is a misdemeanor.

"We don't want to be punitive. We want to raise awareness," Commissioner Larry Brown said.

Inspections are paramount when it comes to electrical work because faulty wiring can cause a fire, Brown said.

County data show that home improvement projects are on the rise, making it more important that people get permits when needed, said Ron Lynn, the county's development services director.

Smaller repairs don't require permits, Lynn said, including replacing roof tiles, wallpaper, carpeting and paint.

Normally, scofflaws pay double the normal fees for permits and inspections as punishment, Lynn said. Those can add up to hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Although the penalties will be waived, residents still must pay all of the regular fees, he said, adding that amnesty is not "a magic wand" making all costs vanish.

If inspectors discover sub-par work, they will order the owners to bring it up to code, Lynn said. That will cost more money but might save headaches.

For instance, if a patio cover built without a permit blows off in a windstorm, an insurer might reduce the reimbursement or pay nothing, Lynn said. If non-permitted work is discovered while the house is being sold, the bank could demand the work be redone.

"It's tough selling a house now," Lynn said. "You don't want anything delaying that."

Contact reporter Scott Wyland at or 702-455-4519.