I live in San Francisco, where illegal modifications are rampant. I can't remember seeing any house when we were looking for one to buy that didn't have an illegal in-law on the first level (garage). Ours has one too (room + kitchen + bath). We are planning to do the following: 1. Remodel the room to be a hobby / craft room. 2. Remove the kitchen and convert that room to a laundry room. 3. Keep the bathroom but tidy it up a little (it's pretty funky right now). I think permits / codes / inspections are a good thing, but if I go that route, will I be the guy who's ripped off by the system, while everyone else on the block is happily (and much more cheaply, I assume) modifying their houses? I only plan to work with reputable and licensed people. Because of the cost factor, we are planning to do these modifications bit-by-bit over time, even potentially using different people for different jobs. Do we get a permit for every remodel, or do we get someone to make a plan for the complete remodel and then implement parts of it over time until completion and inspection? (This may be an SF specific question Should I expect a good contractor to automatically bring up the permit question and be in favor of it, or will I have to insist on this myself? Just how "usual" it is to do remodels with or without permits? Thanks for any insight.