We needed to go with a permit, as much as I didn't want one. Those inspectors are trouble! We did have some engineering issues knocking out walls and supposedly it is better for resale if you can prove your house isn't going to fall down. BUT, did the inspector have to go snooping around? He found that our stairs to the right of the entry way were not up to code and he might as well take $45 per sq ft of the whole area. Busted and not awesome Mr. Sir.
Out go the stairs! It does make it handy to toss backpacks our paper towels down to the basement instead of going all the way downstairs.
Here's the view from down below.
One night we passed Micah downstairs through our new not so secret passage. The next day we found it boarded up. No fun.