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Bechuot, Other/Just Looking in Berryessa, San Jose,...

I bought a single house with a converted garage. Now that the city comes and they did the inspection, will they have the right to fine me?

Asked by Bechuot, Berryessa, San Jose, CA Tue Sep 14, 2010

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Ruth and Perry Mistry’s answer
Hi Bechuot

Regret to hear about your problem.
If it is the City, and not the appraiser, yes you could be fined after they give you notice and time to correct.
If this was a reo or ashore sale do not waste your time with lawyers, also it will be hard to argue that you could not see a converted garage.

You may need a lawyer to help you buy time, clearly one of your neighbors reported you or the property was red tagged before it was sold. If so, it was your responsibility to check for permits.

Call out a licensed builder or start converting the garage back. If you have a bathroom too that could be an issue with the city sewer company . Hopefully, you still have a garage door.

All said and then you are looking at a cost of about $1000 to $2000 to convert it back, if you have a garage door. If you don't then another $1500installed with opener.

You will have to check whether you are better off doing the repairs yourself with a handyman or cheap contractor .

But sooner you get started the better.if you need some help get in touch with me and we go from there.

Good luck.
Web Reference: http://www.ruthandperry.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Sep 26, 2010
They would first ask you to correct it within a certain time frame. The person on title would get a fine for not correcting. Ask for an extension if you need one. Sometimes it could be as simple as removing the 'closet' and not allow anyone use it as a bedroom. The department can be very helpful if you work with them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 16, 2010
@Joe Nernberg,

Home Inspections are not required on all purchase money transactions, although it is wise to have one preformed. Appraisals are required on all financed properties.

An appraiser would note that the additional 400 square feet (average 2 car garage) of living area was on the appraisal as "Permitted" in order for an underwriter to "sign-off."

This has nothing to do with you or me. A loan is not approved if an addition was not "legal." Sure didn't mean to get you all ruffled up. Sorry you misinterpreted my previous response. .... Happy funding, Rudi
Web Reference: http://www.umboc.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 15, 2010
I'm assuming the garage was converted legally otherwise how did you get the loan also assuming this is recent purchase.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
Did you use an agent and did you purchase an extended home owners title policy. If you used a realtor, they should have done their due dilligence on the home. If you purchased an extended home owners policy this could be covered under the policy. For the small fee of the extended policy one could save thousands. I add it to all my transactions. The city could have the right to fine you.Trina Wyatt
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
Quote: "If you received financing, everything should be up to Code, which should not cause worry. ..... Happy funding, Rudi."

I suppose we can just waive the home inspection for all properties now. Bring your loan docs to the building department and tell 'em Rudi sent you.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
Hello Bechuot, I am curious, why was the city inspecting your house ? If your home is located in the City of San Jose, you can check their website to see what permits have been approved for your address. Here is the link:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
If you received financing, everything should be up to Code, which should not cause worry. ..... Happy funding, Rudi.
Web Reference: http://www.umboc.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
Hello Bechuot and thanks for your post.

As Guy noted below, the City will first request that you remove the unpermitted or non-compliant garage amendments before resorting to a fine. The fines are hefty in San Jose--up to $1000 per day for every day past the deadline date for removal of the amendment, so if you are asked to remove the amendments, you might consider this the "lesser" cost of the options. The other option that might be presented to you is that you upgrade the garage to meet current building codes, and to provide for some covered "parking" as a substitute for the garage. In order to avail yourself of the second option, however, you will be required to obtain a building permit, and the cost for retrofitting an older construction project can be considerable.

Unfortunately, if you, as the buyer, were advised in any of your disclosure paperwork from the previous homeowner that the building contained unpermitted improvements, then you may be out of remedies against the homeowner/seller. Thus, any retrofits or removals will be at your cost. However, as Guy noted, your best options and information will come from a qualified real estate attorney. I can add two more to Guy's list of attorneys:

1. Alan Berger in San Jose at 408-536-0500. Alan is both a real estate attorney and a litigator--a deadly combination.
2. David Van Atta in Palo Alto at 650-321-5700. Dave is a great real estate attorney with experience in many facets of Real Estate law.

Good luck!!

Grace Morioka, SRES
Area Pro Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
The city can require several things. 1) if not compliant with code, ask you to remove it. In San Jose, you must have a garage. 2) Upgrade it to current code. You do not want to get into a fight with the city. They always win unless you are represented by an attorney.

You need to check your disclosures to see if it was disclosed. Also, your agent had a duty to warn you of the risks involved in buying a non-permitted improvement. I would advise you to seek help from an attorney. You spend hundreds of thousands for the house, so it is not unwise to invest 1 hour of an attorneys time in seeing what your options are: But, they need to be a real estate attorney. I recommend:

* Dean Rossi 261-4252
* Roger Wintle: 281-1786

Check out my blog site: http://www.expertwitnesssupport.com
Web Reference: http://www.guyberry.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
Your best source is to check the City Building Department website. You are to get permits. If you fail to do there can be consequences. I was representing a buyer on property in Saratoga. This listing agent mentioned in fliers and in the MLS the non permitted patio conversion. A building inspector came through the open house and red tagged the property. The city would not allow transfer of ownership until it was brought up to the city's standard. The transaction fell through due to the cost.
Web Reference: http://terrivellios.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
Call your attorney. He will follow up and assist you with the city.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 14, 2010
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