What To Do When Discovering Unpermitted Repairs And Renovations

hat to Do When a Home Has Unpermitted WorkIt may seem that being a homeowner gives a person the freedom to do whatever they want in terms of repairs and renovations, and while that’s true to a certain extent, some work does need approval from outside sources. Cities require that certain projects are permitted in order to ensure the safety of the job and to properly assess property taxes in the future.

Both DIY and professional construction jobs can need permits, and not obtaining one can have some long-lasting consequences down the line. While it may seem cheaper and easier to skip this part of the process, it’s an important piece of the puzzle..

Selling a House With Unpermitted Work

Discovering the gravity of unpermitted work can be shocking, especially if the home is about to go on the market. Despite the potential consequences for having unpermitted work in a home, there are ways to handle the situation that shouldn't affect the sale of the home.

Homeowners asking themselves, “Can I get a permit after remodeling?” can breathe a sigh of relief. Many times cities will have an option available to get a retroactive permit for the work that was done. This might require tearing open a bit of the project, but it's necessary to make sure that things like wiring and plumbing were completed up to code. The ease of this will vary depending on the specific city, as some will have a bit more sympathy for the situation while others might be very strict and require the entire project be torn down.

Others choose to sell the home as-is without trying to obtain any permits and instead discount the price of the home to reflect this inconvenience. While this might be an easier option upfront, it can potentially cause the home to stay on the market for a while, even if it is in a very desirable real estate market like Mount Vernon.

Buying a House with Unpermitted Work

Finding a dream home can be exciting, but what happens when it's discovered that unpermitted repairs or renovations were done on the home? As a buyer, there are several ways to safeguard the purchase so that any negative consequences aren't on your shoulders.

Utilizing a reputable home inspector can work toward a buyer's advantage here, as they will be able to see if certain elements of the work have been completed up to code. Depending on the results they come up with, this information could be a great way to negotiate a lower sale price or ask them to make specific changes before the final purchase.

Some home buyers opt for a home warranty as well, almost like an insurance policy should anything go wrong. Remember to carefully review the type of warranty purchased, because some of them may not cover unpermitted work.

Fines and Penalties For Unpermitted Work

Having a home with unpermitted work can result in fines and penalties for the homeowners if discovered. The penalty for not pulling a permit will vary depending on the local law, but here are some of the different fines and penalties homeowners can potentially face for having a home with unpermitted work:

  • Disclosing unpermitted work is required by law, and knowingly selling a house without permits is illegal and can result in lawsuits.
  • Homeowners can be charged double the original fee for the permit.
  • The completed work can be torn out to be inspected.
  • If the unpermitted work needs to be removed for any reason, the homeowner will have to pay for all effort required in doing so.
  • Local authorities can possibly take the homeowner to court for unpermitted work.
  • Fines can be a flat price or stack per day it continues to exist without a permit.

There are a lot of different penalties homeowners can face for owning a home with unpermitted work, and none of them are particularly pleasant to deal with. There are firms that homeowners can seek assistance from if they feel that the penalties should not be imposed under certain circumstances. Still, it’s best for homeowners to deal with their home’s permits before they become a problem so they don’t become unmanageable.

Tips For The Future

Keep in mind that uncovering unpermitted repairs or renovations doesn't mean the house is doomed and won't ever be sold, but it may require extra legwork to get things in order. Take some time to discuss with a real estate professional what unpermitted repairs could mean for the future of the home whether you're on the buying or selling end and keep this element in consideration when moving forward with a transaction.

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