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OLEAN – As home improvement season gets underway, city officials are reminding Olean residents that there are some policies to keep in mind.

“I have had a number of inquiries from our residents concerning the necessity of obtaining permits from our Code Enforcement Office for regular home maintenance,” Mayor William Aiello said. “In addition, there are some misconceptions regarding the consequence of home maintenance on the assessed value of a home. It is time to clear the air.”

The city’s code enforcement officer, Capt. Ed Jennings, said the projects that must have permits include those that create a structural change or new construction on a property.

“Projects such as deck and porch additions, re-roofing, foundation repairs, demolitions and sheds larger than 100 square feet in size would need a permit,” he said. “As would the installations of new electrical service, new heating units or solid fuel stove.”

The main reason these projects need permits is not just to add to the revenue of the city, Jennings said.

“A permit is required in these instances to protect the property owners,” he elaborated. “Our department has procedures to make sure the construction is built according to specifications, that current zoning laws are met and that the contractor is properly licensed and insured.”

So what work can you do that will not need a permit?

“Examples of these kinds of projects include fences, siding, house painting, as well as gutter and downspout replacement,” Jennings said. “Replacement windows generally do not need a permit; however, if there are structural changes when a window is replaced, a permit would be necessary. When in doubt, it’s a good idea to call our office at 372-5683.”

But all of this is going to increase your assessment and, therefore, your taxes are going to go up, right? Not necessarily, according to City Assessor, Nancy Champlin.

“Routine maintenance and repairs needed to keep property in good condition will not trigger an increase in the assessed value of a home,” she said. “This would include projects such as painting, removing and replacing rotted wood in steps and porch decking, re-roofing, window and door replacement, as well as new furnace and hot water tank replacement.”

There are some things that can be done that will boost that assessment a bit, however. These projects are a bit specific.

“Major renovations that increase the value of the home may trigger an increase in assessed value,” Champlin said. “This would include jobs such as porch removal and replacement, additions to the home, new kitchens and baths, sheds larger than 150 square feet, in ground pools or a total exterior upgrade, for example when the project includes a whole house being sided with vinyl.

“In general, maintenance and repair work to replace items that have come to the end of their useful life and are necessary to retain the present value of the property will not increase the assessment,” Champlin summarized. “However, renovations and additions that upgrade the condition of the property would result in an increase in property value.”