Home Buying in 92123>Question Details

Katie1980, Home Buyer in 92123

I'm looking at a house with 2 rooms added on without permits. If purchased, what problems could arise from this and how could I obtain permits?

Asked by Katie1980, 92123 Wed Dec 8, 2010

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Hi Katie,

Here are the basics of what you may be looking at:

1. No permit usually = No appraised value for the square footage of the non-permitted space. In other words, appraisers are trained to ignore the square footage of the rooms without the permit.

2. So while you can market the home as a 3 BR with a den, the tax record will show a 2 BR and you will have to explain when you go to sell. Happens all the time.

3. Getting permits after the fact usually involve some demolition and reconstruction. If there is electrical or plumbing involved, the inspector will want to see it which would mean taking down the drywall and possibly ceiling drywall as well. If there have been changes in the building code or if something does not pass, you will have to get a contractor in to make the changes to satisfy the inspector. If there was structural work, they will want to see everything involved to make sure the building is 100% safe.

4. Get a detailed list of the work done from the seller and when it was done, you could go to the City Inspection Department and ask them to look at it and what it would take to get the permits.

We are speaking from personal experience, do the homework up front and save $$$ and potential headaches down the road.

We hope this helps,

Mark & Kari Shea
Shea Real Estate
Serving Greater San Diego
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Hi Katie,

Ask the appraiser if the rooms were counted.

If possible, ask the seller, in writing, to provide ALL info: pictures of construction, contractor's names and numbers who worked on the job, receipts, etc.

Visit the city planning division who has jurisdiction, find out if any red flags currently exist on the property, you may be facing monetary citations $500+ within the first month of living there if there are. Just tell them you are looking at buying the place, (bring the APN# with you) they should be very helpful.

Contrary to some of the inforamtion provided here, the city may visit you because a neighbor complains or an aerial photo doesn't match up. Yes they take aerial photos every few years, overlay them with previous aerial photos, and if the foot print of the home has changed, they might be visiting you.

I cannot stress the importance of determining the extent of this issue prior to closing escrow, tearing down a structure is not cheap, especially if rooms are in an area of the lot which is not easily accesible to vehicle traffic. Besides, after the tear down, you presumably would be rebuilding an exterior wall where the rooms once connected.

All of that being said, you can prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I know homes which have been standing for years with plenty of unpermitted additions. Just make sure you are willling to assume the risk, and make sure the return for that risk (i.e. the purchase price) works for you! Hope it helps!

Best Regards,

Anthony Carnevale, San Diego Real Estate Pro Lic.#01735083
Coldwell Banker, Nautilus Real Estate
Web Reference: http://www.mysdonline.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Getting permits after the fact incurs unnecessary risk. Why do you want it permitted as long as it serves its purpose? The only reason you might consider getting permits is to increase the resale value. Which is something you should take into account when negotiating the terms of your current purchase. Even if the work isn't permitted it should be completed with a certain amount of expertise. Ask the seller to see the work receipts from the contractor who did the work. If they can't show you the receipts it's a good opportunity to chip away at the price (or other non-favorable terms). I would definitely try to use the non-permitted status as a negotiating tool. Maybe when the inspection comes back it will note a fair amount of "issues" in the non-permitted areas . . . the cost of those potential repairs should be at least considered in a formal Request For Repairs you can submit. But don't let the seller do the repairs themself . . . that's probably why the rooms were never permitted in the first place!

Good luck,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Check with your lender as far as the appraisal. They may not count the permitted areas / rooms. This may cause you problems as I bet the seller counts the 2 extra rooms in the sales price :).

Something I ran into a couple months ago, worth checking now might save you a huge headache later. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Hi Katie,
You shouldn't have a problem unless someone from the city comes in the home and notices the two extra rooms. Because this is highly unlikely you should be ok. However, going through the process of getting the rooms permitted will invite the city in and this can open a huge can of worms for you.
Once the city inspector enters your home not only will he force you to get the rooms permitted (which could mean tearing them down and re-doing them), but if they notice anything else in the home isn't permitted they can force you to fix that as well.
I think it is fine to buy the home without the permits, just make sure you are not paying for the added square footage. And please be weary of inviting the city in.
Best wishes,
Christa Borellini #01761296
Web Reference: http://diegocentric.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Some cities and counties are more strict than others. Here in the SF Bay Area, non-permitted additions are common. But when it comes down to selling the property, some cities just let it go while others require full inspections, permits and possible fines.

I've had neighbors report a couple of non-permitted walls that were erected in the garage to separate the spece. The only reason they saw the walls was because they were curious about the open house and took a look. They reported it to the city and the city made the seller tear them down before allowing him to sell.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Keep in mind that if using a mortgage to purchase the property, the lender may require permits; therefore check with your local development services department for all necessary information, in order to obtain permits.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
either the city will allow you to pay for the permits after the fact, or worse case is they could make you tear them down. btw, the non permited rooms should not have been considered in the appraisal.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Like others have already answered the risk is that if you are reported and/or county/city finds out, you could risk loosing those rooms. Ask yourself if you still want to purchase with this risk.

Web Reference: http://www.theindras.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
James' answer is accurate however worst case scenario, you may have a tear out and rebuild on your hands.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
Check with the city or county. They may already have reports on it. I've seen these become nightmares, and I've seen them go very smoothly. Regardless...you are going to be spending money you did not expect to spend.

Good luck,
Joan Wilson (Realtor, SRES, Ecobroker, Certified REO, HAFA, and Short Sale Specialist)

Prudential California Realty
Direct Phone: 760-757-3468
800-975-7481 x 111
Fax: 760-946-7894
License # 01341483

Find Your Dream Home:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
If may be difficult to do since the constuction is already complete, but I've seen in the past where people were able to get permits after the fact as long as the inspectors were able to verify that all of the work has been completed to code. There may be some penalties that will have to be paid along with the costs for the permits.

The taxes on the home will more than likey increase due to the increased property value.

Best of luck!
Web Reference: http://www.jameswehner.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Dec 8, 2010
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