How much trouble can you get into for not having signage permits?

One of the most common beginning questions we get from our signage is about the necessary permits to build and install their outdoor signage. They see how we assist in all the paperwork, phone calls, "I"-dotting and "T"-crossing and they'll ask:

"Are these signage permits really necessary? I mean, what's the worst that happens?"

The typical conclusion is that they would get a warning if they get caught and, from there, they finish the process. That way, the signage gets up quicker and they start attracting customers sooner.

The truth is that you can get severely punished for not getting the permitting together. For example, recently there was a case in Massachusetts where signage had to come down on a building because there was no permit. No compensation for the costs that went into the design, build and installation. No compensation for lost advertising fees. Just an order to take it down at their own expense.

"What happened?"

Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Office of Outdoor Advertising took Hat 9 Bowdoin Realty, LLC and Framingham-based Sponsor Co., LLC to court over the lack of permits used to erect billboard signage on a neighborhood building. Beacon Hill Civic Association was also involved in the case. One of the Association's board members was quoted in the Beacon Hill Times as saying:

“We look forward to the illegal signs finally coming down. They’ve been a horrible blight on the neighborhood”.

They'll come after you.

Especially in this case where the billboards were ostentatious and in stark contrast with the aesthetic of the neighborhood. But even if your signage is understated and in the best of taste, if you don't have the right permitting, you'll have troubles sooner or later.

Why they'll (probably) come after you if you are without your permits.

If you don't have the proper permitting, they can't track you. If they can't track your signage, they can't govern over your signage. If they can't govern over your signage, they can't make sure your signage stays in compliance. If they can't sure it stays in compliance, then they can't make sure it continues to be safe for you, your business, your clients, and the surrounding location.

It sounds like a small thing, but small things often end up leading to big consequences.

So, if you'd like help with your signage permitting, we're here to help. We help all our clients with permitting, whether they're our local signage clients in Chicago / Northwest Indiana, or from our national base. Contact us today to learn more.

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