filmfemmefat…, Home Seller in Glendale, CA

Inherited a property with a non-permitted addition, do I need to tear it down or bring it up to code?

Asked by filmfemmefatale, Glendale, CA Mon Mar 18, 2013

I inherited a property which I am renovating. All up to code. There is a large enclosed porch, which was not permitted. The porch has never been added in any of the appraisals. Is it possible to sell the home without tearing down the porch or renovating it?

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The property owner took the money, will not do anything about the building that had a fire in it. Years later the building is still here. The city of Culver, Oregon will not do anything about the building issues at all. I have been to the city office and they are not, won't do nothing. Where is go from here about this issue? Linda
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jun 16, 2014
You have options! If it was built correctly and to code you could pay a fee have it permitted and add to you sq ft and listing price ;) if it is in bad condition and an eye sore, yes tear it down as it will bring the value down. I would be happy to help you make the decision. Give me a call - Sara
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 8, 2013
Dear FilmFemme,
Not necessarily, but you cannot count the un permitted addition to be used as part of the square footage when you put the property up for sale. Make sure you "disclose" this information to any potential buyer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 15, 2013
Before you tear anything down, check with your local city building/safety code enforcement department.

Some cities will require the unpermitted work to be torn down, but some may simply require you to bring the work up to code.

Some unpermitted work be GRAND FATHERED in. Meaning when is was added their was no code indicating it could not be done. In other words it may be illegal now but when it was constructed it was NOT ILLEGAL as the code against it was not yet on the books.

Best of Luck to YOU!
Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
It may add value to the home, so don't tear it down yet.. You could also disclose it up front and let the buyer worry about it.. Disclose it.... Sell it as is condition... You could also find out what it would tak to bring it to code by calling a contractor.. I can give a few numbers to call and get their opinion.. The you can make a good decision on what you can do or want to do...
Call or email me. I would like to interview fo rthe job of being your agent when selling the property..
We can discuss more options.. talk to you soon

Ingrid Ski Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
Yeah I'd also probably sell it as is, disclose that permits are unknown and probably don't exist to the buyer, then cross my fingers that the building inspector doesn't inquire about it while checking on the other work you are doing over there.

If you do decide to bring it up to code, just be warned that it may not be possible to salvage depending on a bunch of issues:

- shear wall calculations (both of the porch and the house itself)
- foundation
- anchoring
- nailing schedules
- electrical

Being that the structure already exists, they may have to do intrusive and destructive inspections to determine how well it was built. For example, the concrete foundations used in permitted additions usually need rebar, doweling, anchors, epoxy to meet code. It is nearly impossible to tell if this was all done after the concrete is poured. For this reason, it can be a real pain to bring it up to code if an inspector didn't see it before hand.

Once you bring it to the city, you are on their radar and they literally have to follow up on it. Take some time to think about it before going down there.

I am not a contractor and am not qualified to advise on construction, I am nearly sharing my experience as a fellow homeowner and witness to other homeowner client stories. Find a licensed professional to best answer your specific questions.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013

Depends. Whatever you do don't go into planning and zoning and admit to a bunch of problems. Cities are cash strapped looking for homeowners to fine. Some improvements may or may not be grandfathered in.

I can give you the name and number of a retired County Building Inspector that now works with private homeowners to clean up these problems and keep costs to a minimum.

I once sold a property with over 200 code violations. Yes you can sell it as is. I can teach you how.

Call 800-765-3609 my cell or email me at

May I come over and see your home, I used to do handyman work and know a little about repairs and building.

Albert Goldberg Broker
30+ Years Experience
"Making Real Estate Fun"
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
Not in all cases. Depending on the type of non permitted improvements you're talking about you may be able to apply for an "as built" permit. I this case you would go to the building department and pull this permit, list the non permitted improvements, and call for an inspection for said improvements.

The inspector will then inspect the improvements and note any necessary corrections. Once the corrections have been addressed the inspector will sign off on the permit and you're good to go. If there are not corrections to deal with he will sign off and your improvements will qualify for any appraisal. Hope this helps.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
Hello Filmfemmefatale,

The short answer to your question is, yes you can sell it without tearing it down. Disclose to any potential buyer what you know to be true. Depending on what the porch looks like and how the work was done it may not be a big deal to a buyer. Each buyer has a different level of comfort with non-permitted additions and during the inspection period they can have the porch looked at more closely.

I would be more worried if the addition was a bedroom and bath with electrical and plumbing. Also as was mentioned you can go to the city building department and check to make sure there is not a permit that was pulled but not finalized and has expired. Either way you can ask for a re-inspection of the porch and maybe it can be approved.

Look at it from a different point of view, does the porch add value being enclosed or not? is it safe? Does it fit in the neighborhood or look out of place? If it makes more sense to leave it alone then I would say leave it alone and disclose it. Is it dangerous or just ugly and the house would look better without the porch enclosed then maybe you should do something with it. The level and amount of work is really up to you.

Good luck,

Brian Wilson, Realtor
DRE# 01321478
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013

From a lender's standpoint concerning future financing (if that's your worry). Please be advised that on Conventional loan programs, a buyer purchases the property as is. Now FHA contrary to what MOST lenders and realtor think, does not require a room addition or garage conversion etc be permitted in order to figured in or calculated in the square footage or value as long as the addition or conversion was completed in a "Workmanlike Manner" (not shoddy). Just thought I would add these comments if you were concerned with selling your property.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
I would first find out what it takes to bring it up to code with the village building inspector, or may be
in can be fathered in, just depends on how well it was done to start with.

Then knowing what needs to be done you can decide on whether to bring it up to code if there are
violations, the building inspector from the village may also have a good suggestion one way or the
other, it really is all a question of can it be brought up to code, what is the expense and will it sell the
property better after having brought it up to code or is the expense too high, so that tearing it down
makes more sense. As you mention it seems to be a large porch addition, so it may add to the value
of the property as far as space is concerned, but you do not want to sell a property with a code violation as this may worry potential buyers.... Unless you can provide them with the information on the violations and at the same time with the estimate for the cost to bring it up to code, they may then want to consider and do the remedial work themselves....
Good Luck to you

Sincerely yours,
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
On the permit question: Call the local city manager, it could be grandfather in.

On the Selling Question: Just ask your Realtor.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
If you'd like, email me some pictures of it & I can give you my opinion based on how it looks as to whether or not it appears you should try to bring it to code or if it should be torn down.

I sold a home recently where there was an old, permitted, enclosed patio, but I think it should have been torn out because it was eating into the backyard space too much.

I don't look back on this same Trulia posting for answers after mine.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
Be sure it is unpermitted, have the city check the records. Then if it is absolutely not permitted, it doesn't necessarily need to be torn down, you need the city building inspector to come out & check to see if there are any code violations & if so, they'll tell you what needs to be done to bring it up to code so you can get a permit.

Extra square footage that looks nice & which is done properly adds value to the house, you might consider the costs to get it permitted & bring it to code. Otherwise you may not find that it's worth the work & cost & tear it down.

Emily S. Knell
562-430-3053 c
Realtor Since 1996
Realty ONE Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 19, 2013
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