Homeowners who do not obtain authorization from the City for such a conversion 1) feel permits are an unnecessary formality, 2) are looking to avoid the additional cost of the permit and/or need for plans, or 3) do not want their property taxes to go up once the County sends a Supplemental Tax bill (triggered by final permit sign-off).
If unpermitted work is verified, the City can require that the work be torn down, or at the very least, demolished to a point where the inspector can confirm that building codes have been followed.
Any appraiser will be all over the garage conversion and whether it was done with a permit. If the permit is missing, the appraiser will not assign any value to conversion.
You can certainly buy such a property "as built" and not worry about the permits; however, that's not to say your worries are over because when it comes time to sell Buyers will be asking the same question about the property if the permit issue has not been put to rest.
Finally, and most importantly, another issue is that of safety. If you are dealing with a Seller that did not believe permits and the inspections that go along with was important, how can you really know the work was done properly without tearing into walls? How do you confirm how "stable" the electrical, plumbing, etc., and basic structure is without doing this?
In short, buying a home with unpermitted remodeling is gambling with your financial and potentially your personal safety.
The punishment is if the garage burned down for example the insurance company may not pay for it if it was not permitted.
Burbank recently went on line so it's easier to research permits, and ask for information from the city. I incuded the web addtress.
About the blogger: Linwood Fullam is a Burbank resident and works as an Agent at Rodeo Realty in Studio City. Linwood lives near Bobs Boy Restaurant in Burbank, and enjoys running in Griffith park, dining in local restaurants, and local theatre at Falcon Theatre.
The original owner may have had certain reasons for not wanting to obtain a permit, but there are many reasons to be concerned if a converted garage does not have permits.
Aside from the possibility that it may make obtaining a loan more difficult,and/or that the square footage may not be included in your appraisal(which will affect value) there is the issue of was the work completed to code?
Electrical and plumbing codes are there to protect the inhabitants from dangerous situations arising from poor workmanship. At minimum I would have the appropriate contractors inspect the work/addition.
Once you have completed your inspections you can make a more informed decision on how hard it would be to get a permit, what additional work would be required, any liability issues etc.
Hope this helps!
About the blogger: Sandra Cusick is a Southern California native and a longtime Burbank homeowner. If you'd like to look up bank owned properties, please go to: SandraSellsBurbank.com
There is a link under property search for bank owned homes.