For most of us, buying a home is the biggest single investment weâ€™re likely to make â€“ and weâ€™re only likely to do it maybe once or twice in a lifetime. The process is, by nature, filled with checks and balances â€“ and many complex details. An important part of buying a home is reviewing the preliminary title report and checking with the city and county for the permits that are on file.
Permits are not required with many loan programs as long the work has been done in a workmanship manner. Even though your lender may lend on a home without permits, you will have the same challenge of selling a home without permits when you decide to sell the home. Unless you have a contractor that can do the work needed to get a permit, buying a home without permits may not be the best idea.
Prudential California Realty
Those are major remodeling projects. Bad enough that they were done without permits, but how sure can you be that they are done according to code? How is the structural integrity? There are reasons why such projects will require permits --- and most importantly, for safety reasons.
It i not unusual to hear of homeowners being fined for unpermitted work, and worse, being told to remove the offending structure, or, pull the necessary permits (if the remodeling plan is allowed) and have building inspectors check each and every change. It's bound to be more expensive to remove and re-do, than it is to start anew.
If you proceed with buying the property, and then you yourself want to have more work done, the inspector may be able to spot unpermitted work....why take a chance?
With these many unpermitted "improvements", if I were you, I'd pass on this, and continue searching for something else. The headache and the many unknowns are just too many for this one.
The only things you can do are have extensive inspections - and I would try to get the seller to pay since they didn't get permits - and knock the price down considerably over what a similar house would cost that had done things properly.
In the end it might work out fine, but you are taking on a lot of liability and you will definitely be hurt on resale unless you rectify the permit situation.
Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
...this illustrates the need for permitted work done to code ---- safety!
You've raised some issues. By this time, you must have a feeling in your gut what you should do, right?
Good luck to you with whatever you decide to do. You'll surely need it.
Another question that occurred to me later was related to insurance. If something were to happen and the origin of the damage was a non-permitted work, like a short circuit in the non-permitted sun room leading to a fire, can the insurance company deny coverage for the whole house? Meaning, even to the parts that were originally built with permit? Another example could be some re-plumbing work that floods the house.
I am working with buyer to purchase property in Fremont with same issues. Part of the property was upgraded with permit (but missing final inspection) and other part was upgraded without permit. In our case City code enforcement inspector found out property was for sale, he contacted current owner (bank) for outstanding code violationsâ€¦.We are working with city to legalize the work and moving forward with the purchase since seller discounted the purchase price.
I would buy the property if price is discountedâ€¦.If violations are not legalized, you will face same issues when you sell or plan to do any modification with permit (unless you get lucky and inspector does not notice previous upgrades).
They may have replaced the pipes that were there, but if they didn't weld the joints properly or notched the studs to the point that they fail or places them improperly there could be disastrous implications.
This doesn't mean it was done wrong but you need to find out.
As for the other additions, does the seller have the receipts? Who did the work? Was is a licensed contractor? Some folks get cheap and don't want to pay for the permits, but that doesn't mean the work wasn't done properly.
How does the seller know the work was done to code? It's a simple question that should be simple to answer. Don't give up too easily, especially if you like the house.
Get a general property inspection and follow the inspector around. You'll get a lot of answers that way.
I am up on the permit processes in several counties here in VA, DC and MD, but not in CA, so take my comments with a grain of salt.
First, our counties here are able to grant permits and inspect even finished projects. However, some inspections will require "access", especially the copper pipes. What a nightmare, not to mention I doubt the seller will be happy to pay for this operation.
Secondly, you could hire a good home inspector and/or engineer to review the items and give you an opinion as to the quality of the work. Here too, some access would be required, which translates, again, into $$ from the seller.
Thirdly, you could do the down and dirty option, reporting the work to the county anonymously and let the chips fall where they may. Many counties, while assessing homes for taxes, do a visit and can demand permits for work they find done without permits. Obviously, they would not notice things like the pipes or insulation, however, I bet that sun room stands out like a sore thumb....My county came by and asked for permits for a storage shed. It turned out, 15 years ago, a permit was obtained and they had the final inspection approved. This was all done before I purchased, thank goodness.
You could also explore with your county grandfather clauses. It seems fair to me if the home is sold, the new owner starts with a proverbial clean slate, in other words, work done before you owned it, the county may have little choice but to accept the work, as you have. If there is such a codicil, make sure you know the work is done well for your own peace of mind.
Best wishes, Jim
of open permits, the seller will have to leave money in escrow until the issue is resolved.
If permits WERE required, insist on getting copies of closed permits for all the improvements prior to closing. The town will still come out and make sure everything was done to code and provide a closed permit even though it's been some time since the improvements were completed. Some of the improvements you list may not require permits, but some definitely do.
I had this same situation on a closing of mine recently. The town was very cooperative and there were very few changes that had to be made. But you should have everything inspected and permits properly closed prior to closing. It's important not only for your safety, but also to protect your interests in the future when you may want to sell the house and move up to your next home. If permits are not taken care of now, then YOU will be stuck with the job of obtaining permits in the future and THAT may have a negative impact on your ability to sell the home when the time comes.