Blood, Tears, and Sweat Equity: The Path to Riches?

The concept seems so simple. Buy a house. Do some work. Sell the house. Make some money. Repeat. The devil is in the details. Skip some of the steps and you could find yourself staring into a money pit with no end in site. This will be the first post regarding the matter since there are whole books written on the subject. I’m going to write based on a home in Portland (each city has its own requirements). Let’s start with permits and licensing.


The City of Portland Bureau of Development Services manages building permits. You’ll need to find out from them if your plans need a permit. PortlandMaps.com is another city-run site that with nothing more than a street address, gives all current permit information back to 2000 on a property (along with a bunch of other really cool information). The property disclosures that a seller fills out when they sell a property also asks the question of whether a permit was required and was it finalized. The city can require you to deconstruct a project so that they can see behind the walls if a permit is acquired after the fact.

The Construction Contractor’s Board manages licensing for contractors. There are very specific laws on who needs a license when working on a home. If there is “intent to sell,” some projects that a homeowner could complete by themselves now must be completed by a licensed contractor. Fines for violating these laws are steep.

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