Home Selling in 92026>Question Details

42trillianas…, Home Seller in Escondido, CA

What do you do about selling a home with previously unpermitted additions and more unpermitted work after we bought it?

Asked by 42trillianastra, Escondido, CA Wed Oct 3, 2012

We bought a house in 2000. It had unpermitted work, including an addition which is structurally sound. The county still lists the house as 1 bedroom, 1.5 baths, but there are permits on file for walls to add at least 1 bedroom. They destroyed the original plans after 90 days so in the 70's. Today, there are actually 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and a den. So the county never updated their own records when permits were issues in the 80's. At this point, we don't know what is permitted and what isn't. We have replaced the roof without permits because we believed we wouldn't be able to obtain them. It was designed/built by a structural engineer. We now want to sell the home but are worried that we might be sued if we don't disclose everything, but we don't even know everything to disclose! Should we try to have the county come out and inspect and try to get permits after the fact? Isn't that extremely expensive? Or can we just sell the house as-is, disclosing what we do know?

Help the community by answering this question:


If all the improvements are built to code you can ask the building department if you could apply for an "As Is" permit. Most cities in San Diego County make provisions for this type of thing for just this reason.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2012
"Should we try to have the county come out and inspect and try to get permits after the fact? "


I have a listing that we discovered had open permits dating back from a previous owner over 30 yrs ago...this was discovered by a simple trip to the town's building department.... it cost $120 for the new inspections.

The inspectors (both building and electric) found a number of issues that needed to be addressed/corrected, and yes, the owner has paid to have the work done.
We are awaiting the final inspection which will finally close out any open permits.
Then we will close on the home.....the new buyers were fine with the fact there were open permits, just as long as they were taken care of.

You owe it to yourself and to any future buyer to know what needs to be addressed.
You also need to make sure your taxes are adjusted for whatever additions are in place....and that the true assessment of the house is on record.

Sorry, but disclosing "what you do know" (which seems very limited), in my opinion, is not enough. You already know way too much about things that were and weren't done to act uninformed.

Best wishes.........
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012
Kudos to @Debbie Rose and @John Arendsen!! Both have given you options for resolution BEFORE you list your property. It will ultimately save you a lot of money (both in cash and equity value) to resolve this issue Given the extensive work that has been done to the property, it would be a shame to have the value based on the original structure. The scope of the unpermitted work would very likely cause issues with financing for any buyer looking to purchase your home.

Best of luck to you!

Deborah Garvin
NMLS #279125
(619) 787-8212
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 16, 2012
You can always give us all a thumbs up. LOL! {:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2012
You're right! It's only a little bit excessive... ;)
Flag Thu Oct 4, 2012
Houses are sold all the time with un-permited improvements. You have the choice to sell however you want (permitted or un-permitted) as long as you disclose everything. The appraised value may increase significantly when selling as a 3 bedroom then 2 1/2 baths permitted, then something less. Please feel free to contact me and I will help you with a free market analysis.

Best regards,

Charles Sommer
Real Estate Consultant
Atlantic & Pacific Real Estate
North San Diego County
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2012
You can certainly sell a home without permits - you has have to say something like 'permits unknown.' It's done all the time. That said, the un-permitted space will not be included in any assessment of value by the lender so it will affect your home value.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012

Go to the city and see if there are permits. If you don’t' have permits, I highly recommend getting permits if you can.Your property value is ONLY WORTH WHAT IT IS PERMITTED FOR. You can sell however you want as long as you disclose everything. Your property will go up significantly when selling as a 3 bedroom then 2 1/2 baths, then a 1 bedroom 1 1/2 baths. Contact me if you would like, I can do a free market analysis for you and give you a property value non-permitted and permitted.

My Best Always,

Michael Alex
Real Estate Consultant
cell. 619.581.9348
email. AskMichaelAlex@gmail.com
Pacific Sotheby’s International Realty
San Diego, CA
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012
Thanks - we'll have to check the records again. It's been 12 years and memories fade. Hopefully the actual bedrooms were permitted and it's just the den that is not permitted. That would be an easier sell and less of a hit on the value than if any bedrooms aren't permitted. Thank you for your reply.
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012

It sounds as though the City may not be a reliable source if information given what you have said. Michael's direction is accurate, see what they can tell you about exactly what has been permitted.

From there, you may have to utilize a structural engineering firm to investigate the remaining history.

If you are looking to permit after the fact, you would be subject to the building codes as they are written TODAY. That means tearing open walls, bathrooms, etc. for structural, plumbing and electrical inspections...to name a few. Anything they note, would have to brought up to code...and that is where it gets expensive.

What happens when you sell, is the appraiser can ignore any square footage that you cannot prove exists. That would mean your appraisal may be done using 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath comps.

Best of luck.

Mark & Kari Shea
Shea Real Estate
Serving Greater San Diego
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012
Thanks for your reply. We had a recent appraisal for a refi and there was no mention of any inconsistencies with the county records - they listed our sqare footage as it is, not as is permitted. Does that mean this appraiser just didn't check? Also, we will definitely have to go the disclosure route. What about if we don't know everything that was done before we bought it? Could we be liable for not disclosing what we don't know prior to our ownership of the house?
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
There are companies out there you can consult with to find out what the cost would be & find out if you can obtain building permits. If you elect to sell the proeprty as-is it may be the new Buyer will not be able to obtain a loan for financing so a Cash investor may be a likely Buyer. Your financial position in the house may help determine what your best option is to spend the money to get the permits.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012
Thank you both for your answers. If we sell at all, we will barely just be breaking even, as in $1 over a short sale. We really have no money to pull permits after the fact, but we certainly don't have money to cover a potential future lawsuit. I wouldn't think it's likely because everything is structurally sound, but regardless it is the risk. Worse case scenario we just don't sell, maybe rent it out instead.
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
It's actually good that the original plans were destroyed.
In our area, we have courtesy building inspection.
The buidling inspector comes in, and, for free, comments on how you can resolve the current issues.
My clients had a similar situation about a year ago.
We invited the inspector, he checked their files, didn't find any plans, and suggested for the contractor
or an architect to prepare existing plans, bring all to code during remodeling, and that's it.

They did just that and now are in the clear - with the new floor plans on file in the city.

Hope this helps,

Irina Karan
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Oct 3, 2012
Thank you for your answer. Our remodeling is 100% complete and we're just about ready to list. I'm hoping we can just disclose everything we know and that would be sufficient?
Flag Wed Oct 3, 2012
Thank you all for your answers. They were all very helpful, so I couldn't choose just one for the best answer. We are going to go the disclosure/as-is route. Thanks again!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Oct 4, 2012
Search Advice
Ask our community a question
Email me when…

Learn more

Copyright © 2015 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer