Home Buying in Redlands>Question Details

First Time H…, Home Owner in Redlands, CA

1. We are trying to buy our first home and were told that one of the bathrooms is not permitted, who do we go to and check if bathroom is up to code?

Asked by First Time Home Owner, Redlands, CA Sat Jan 14, 2012

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OK, That's a lot of good info. So the 2nd bath was already there? If so the footprint wouldn't be an issue unless they expanded it beyond the exterior wall to enlarge it. If it has been enlarged on the interior that means they would have had to knock down an interior wall.

So the next step would be to determine if the wall they moved was a load bearing wall. If it was you would need to determine how they compensated vertical load displacement for that.

You should have a contractor measure the existing interior bathroom walls and then take a dive under the crawl space and there should be a corresponding load bearing post (pier) and beam directly under one of the walls to neutralize the point load of the load bearing wall.

I know this sounds confusing to a lay person but an experienced foundation contractor would be able to spot that in a nano second.

If it has an exterior window then that resolves the ventilation issue.

If it had a preexisting toilet, sink and small shower chances are your good to go with plumbing vents as well. However, you may want to once again have your contractor git on the roof and check to see if the roof vents directly above that bathroom correspond to the plumbing fixtures.

It sounds like it has all the potential for a historical home so I can see why you're so bent on keep the deal together. All in all, however, if the building jurisdiction will allow you an "AS BUILT" permit (that's what they call them in San Diego. They may have a different name in Riverside County) and everything pans out with the inspections I'd feel pretty positive about pulling the trigger.

However, having said that, if your really passionate about this property I wouldn't necessarily let the bathroom situation be the only deal breaker. Worse case scenario is you'd have to revert it back to what it was which is still a bathroom. Again good luck and I hope this helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
Well it looks like you have a very viable and qualified contingent of RE professionals from all walks of the industry addressing your concerns. What a great venue. The fact of the matter is you're buying a century old structure. It could be classified as a historical home at some point if not already.

If it isn't and you want to acheive that status and expect to make a home out of it for the long haul you will definitely want to cross your T's and dot your I's. Go the distance and make sure all your concerns are addressed before you pull the procerbial trigger and get stuck with something that will give you everything but joy and pride.

I know the Redlands area very well and you are in a very good neighborhood with lots of very fine folks. You'll be very happy raising your family and spending the rest of your life there should you choose to do so. I really can't add much more information or advice than you've already received and I think most of your issues and concerns have been addressed.

I would like to thank you for your participation and ongoing feedback on this thread and for being so generous
with your acknowledgement and recognition for all those who contributed to you. It's always gratifying to know that ones advice isn't falling on deaf ears. You'd be surprised to know how many folks ask this forum a question and recieve literally dozens of answers only to never return or at least let us know they did so.

Good luck and may you have years of fullfillment with your home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 17, 2012
You don't have to feel overwhelmed, you are in the process of buying a home, you could have predicted being significantly out of your comfort zone for a while. You are here, getting some input from people that do not know you, the sellers, the agents, or the home you are buying. If you have three "S' trap configurations in your home, then YES I would recommend those conditions be remediated by licensed, reputable, qualified personnel INCLUDING a full review of the supply, drain and venting systems of the plumbing system prior to the close of escrow......same with electrical, roof or anything else that you may have been prompted to investigate further via the home inspection, disclosed information or your own instigation.
You are in the steep part of a learning and expense curve! Do the right thing. Its nice to "meet" online and everything,but, for the sake of your investment; make sure your take the time to be a great consumer and get estimates, use the most qualified people you can etc.. call your inspector for more information if you feel they are qualified to dispense it!!!
If you are overwhelmed, which is reasonable of course, reduce that emotion with a rational procedure like documenting what is going on, the list of things you are concerned with( and why) and the steps you feel are best to help proceed to your esteemed satisfaction. It will save you time, energy and give you a good night's sleep. You can mess around with the list all you want, the tangible and malleable aspect of it will provide comfort and support. You can make up your own method to counteract potentially distracting emotions like worry and stress of course..
You can't change a thing with worry. You are obviously in the position to buy a house in Redlands; enjoy ALL of it! Maybe you will buy this house, maybe you won't ...it all happens for a reason...,,if I've seen it once, I've seen it a thousand times...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 17, 2012
Whoa!!!!! There is sooo much to think about, I am feeling overwhelmed with everything. So what I am hearing from you guys is that I need to have someone look at the plumbing with a camera?

The inspector did go into the crawl spaces and under neath that specific bathroom. The "S" trap is for the sink in that new bathroom as well as the older bathroom and kitchen dishwasher. Of course I am probably leaving something out that would put it all together nicely for those of you that know all the terms. But, that is how I understood it.

Thank you ALL so much for all your answers.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 17, 2012
There was an "S" trap called out in your inspection report; most reputable, licensed plumbers would never do that. I would use that information to go ahead and have the shower trap and drain pipe installations inspected via camera and this would be a great opportunity to check the condition of the main drain line to the street. These investigations are not in the scope of a limited, visual physical inspection, but, may be referred to as recommendations. Sometimes the " hidden" details can be discovered during the crawl space and attic inspections as well. Since you already had an inspection, you are probably well into your contingency period,however, I would add to Paul's list in having more intensive discovery, possibly leading to renegotiation preformed ASAP. Leading you to further discovery is part of what the inspection process is useful in helping you with.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 17, 2012

Just wanted to stop in and say thank you for all your responses, they have been very helpful.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
My question was related to, as Anna said after my post, a lenders requirements for permitts to be on file. With a conventional loan it should not be a problem.

Now that you have shed a bit more light. It appears as though you have one of those situations where the foot print was changed and like a lot of owners who do these kind of rennovations the prior owner did not want to hassle with getting permitts.

It seems like you really only have a couple of ways to go on this.

1. Find a new home.
2.Buy the home as is. Do nothing and wait and see if a building inspector shows up.( Not likely)
3. Buy the home, pull permitts and have the building inspector out to inspect. If you go this route you should know that you will most likely be asked to open up previously rennovated walls and floors to give the inspector access to plumbing, electrical, gas, structure and the like.

Good Luck
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
you need to go to planning and development to see if there were any permits pulled. If not, then you need to have them send out an inspector to see if they will allow this addition to be permitted not or not. They will check out the footings, wiring etc. Since you are a first time buyer and probably going FHA they won't allow the property to be financed if this is an issue
Web Reference: http://www.wiestrealty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
you need to go to planning and development to see if there were any permits pulled. If not, then you need to have them send out an inspector to see if they will allow this addition to be permitted not or not. They will check out the footings, wiring etc. Since you are a first time buyer and probably going FHA they won't allow the property to be financed if this is an issue
Web Reference: http://www.wiestrealty.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 15, 2012
@ John whoa you seem to know what you are talking about :) I'll try and see if I can answer your questions (though I'm afraid I might have to look up some of the terms you mentioned ;)
The city has the home listed as a 3 bedroom 1 bath, home size 1469 square feet and lot 8200 square feet.
I did some research and when the home was sold (in 2008 before the current seller) there was pictures of a second "bathroom" (which included a toilet and a sink and possibly a really small shower. The current seller completely redid this area and put in a much bigger shower built in not fiber glass stuff, all tile. Moved the toilet and the sink. The city has no footprint on this home as it is 100 years old. There is note of a renovation in the 1030s but nothing recent of any bathroom work. The bathroom does have windows, but no vents, no tub.

I agree with you about it sounding fishy that they would put so much work and money into it but not get a permit for it. We really like the home, and we like the area where the home is located. But don't want to take the risk to move in, if this bathroom will be a problem down the line, specially if we decide to get it permitted in the future.

I hope that answers some of your questions.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
What I'm a little confused about is exactly what room in the house he put the bathroom in or was it added on to the existing original footprint? Or in the garage? Does it have an exterior window or an interior ceiling exhaust vent. for room ventilation?

Is this a full sized bath with a tub and shower, lavatory and toilet? Are all the plumbing fixtures mentioned properly ventilated? If so how? Did they run it up through the roof with a standard 2 inch ABS vent pipe? or is it an interior Air admittance valve (AAV) which you would find under your sink for the sink, however, how is the toilet and bath/shower vented.

These are some things that a general contractor doesn't always catch If you're really in love with this home and it's a must have I'd go the extra distance and hire an experienced plumbing contractor to do a thorough inspection of the items mentioned above. It just sounds a little fishy to me that if the bath were done so nicely why they didn't follow through with a permit.

If the plumbing contractor gives you a positive report and you still wish to move forward you can always appeal to the building department for an "AS IS" permit. Most building departments will generally issue these without much of a problem.

But no matter what since the bathroom wasn't permitted it cannot be allowed or counted as viable square footage and you should be able to adjust the asking price accordingly. Hope this helps.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
What is your agent advising...keep in mind that some lenders may not lend without a permit, and c/o in place; also check with your homeowners insurance company, regarding insurance for the unpermitted room.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
@ Paul we are discussing our options. We can go FHA but are looking at a conventional loan as well since we are able to put more down (20%). We aren't sure which way would be best... we do have an excellent loan officer and he is running both options for us. Why do you ask?

@ Tammy and Ann we had a contractor look at the bathroom and said that it looks really well done and he doesn't understand why the seller didn't get a permit. Our inspector today said that things look really good some things need to be changed with the plumbing (something do to with an S trap) but other than that it was all new stuff in this bathroom. What the city told me that scared me was that they could come in and ask us to tear it down if it didn't meet code (they said not likely) but it would be our problem once we bought the home.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
Since you are first time home buyers are you going with FHA?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
Worried, this may be the answer as to why the house didn't get moved to Pending status (I saw your other question). Basically, you need to figure out the answer to two questions: 1) will the city allow inspection of this bathroom now, and what fines/penalties will be involved. 2) if the city finds that the bathroom cannot meet code, will it need to be torn down and rebuilt, and how much will that cost. Did the seller's disclose this issue with the bathroom prior to inspection? The value of the house should definitely be discounted for this issue, but how much will need to be discussed with your agent. Ask the inspector and contractor questions about this as well.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
I went to the city and there are no permits on this home for any extra additions. We became scared because the city stated that once we bought this home it would become our problem. We did have a contractor come and look at the bathroom and he said it looked like the seller used top of the line stuff, and things looked like they were done to code. He stated if he put so much money into doing it right he should have just gotten the permit. In my mind I am thinking maybe the seller has something to hide. I don't know this home has brought so much emotional uneasy feelings, we are having a hard time deciding what to do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012
Did the owners put in the bathroom themselves without getting a permit. Did it ever get inspected. Check with the County building department. Here in Florida we can go online and check a property address for permits and see if it passed inspection. The County can tell you what you need to do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 14, 2012

Glad you responded, things aren't looking so good. :(

The appraisal appreciated the home at 94% in 4 months based on the unpermitted improvements done, as well as comps. Seller bought house for 100,000 is selling for 189,900 and it was appraised at 197,000. We offered the full asking price as recommended by our agent. We feel the appraisal is not correct, because we were told that when appraised the appraiser would not count the unpermitted areas as validation but the appraiser did. We are so confused. Leaning towards pulling out, waiting to hear back from our second opinion lender, he saw a lot of red flags we started from scratch with new lender for second opinion and we are having to pay for another appraisal, since our current lender obtained our current appraisal without having us sign the release for him to do so. Current lender states that's a RESPA violation.... too complicated to explain all here but things are not looking good for us. But hey you guys have been helpful in helping us see all of this.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 26, 2012
Wait a minute. Am I missing something? A 94% appreciation? What's that based on. Your previous appraisal, current market?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 26, 2012

Just to give you guys an update:

Appraiser included all unpermitted work in appraisal, even though our lender told us that all unpermitted work could not be included. Now the home shows a 94% appreciation in less than 4 months and our second opinion lender thinks that's a red flag. So back to worrying ago, but trying to move forward.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 26, 2012
Thanks again everyone, the comments and questions and advice have really been invaluable. I will come back and let you know what happened.


from "Not so worried anymore first time home buyer" :)
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 18, 2012
Just one thing to add to what Paul elegantly said, if you decide to take option 2, just remember that when it comes to selling the house - you're going to want to disclose the issue to the next buyer (this was a nasty surprise right? you wouldn't want to do that to the next buyer), and the house will also need to be discounted appropriately by them.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 16, 2012
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