Buying a home with work done without permits.

Asked by David, 08865 Tue Sep 2, 2008

My wife and I are looking for a home. We came across one which we like very much. However, the garage was converted into an Adirondack room without any permits. If we buy the house "as is", can my wife and I be on the line for the work being done without permits? And are there any other consequences if we but this house?

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Bill Gassett, Agent, Hopkinton, MA
Tue Jul 14, 2015
The problem could come into play when you decide to sell the home as the new buyer not let it go. At that point you could be required by the local town to get the permits on your dime. See the article referenced below for numerous additional considerations as well.
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Permit Report, , 91423
Mon Jan 20, 2014
You should always get permits for the work to verify that it was done in compliance the building code for that to jurisdiction the property is in. Like other people said, the problems transfer with the title. Therefore you would be responsible for any cost, fee, penalties, damages related to the non-permitted work as well as the cost to remedy the issue.

A good resource is They will collect all of the permits for you and email them to you for 59.99
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Jeanne Feeni…, Agent, Basking Ridge, NJ
Sat Feb 11, 2012
The short answer is "yes". When the title transfers so do any issues. My suggestion is to keep the resolution of permits on the seller side of the equation and have an agreement that the seller resolves. If you do decide to proceed, be sure to hire a good inspector to do your home inspection as well.

Good luck to you,
Jeanne Feenick
Unwavering Commitment to Service, Unsurpassed Results
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Jeffrey Halp…, Agent, Hopatcong, NJ
Fri Feb 10, 2012
if you like the house and the seller will not obtain them, you will have to. The chance you are taking is that if the work was not done correctly or the town decides that they will not allow it, would you be in the position to remedy it. I can tell you that when you sell it, assume your buyer would require it. The item has been disclosed so it is strictly your choice. Good luck
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Kenneth Verb…, Agent, PRINCETON, NJ
Wed Sep 3, 2008
David, I suggest you also read your proposed contract closely (standard contract often includes language requiring seller to get required permits) Even if the inspector is ok today, that doesnt guarantee a pass in the future and when you go to sell; it could be a major sticking point. While local inspectors are the enforcers they still follow state laws. In addition the work done may not be so extensive that getting permits would be a problem.
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Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Tue Sep 2, 2008

We would agree with the group in general. This is a problem that is best referred to the local authorities. Permit and code violation fall out can vary from one community to another. It's best to go directly to the authorities for insight on this concern.

Good luck,
The "Eckler Team"
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Sharon Kozinn, Agent, Hillsdale, NJ
Tue Sep 2, 2008
You need to contact the town department that handles this and deal directly with them. They will advise you how to proceed.
Good Luck,
Sharon Kozinn
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John Sacktig, Agent, New Jersey, NJ
Tue Sep 2, 2008
The township would need to come in and inspect the work done and you would be liable for the permit and the fine for doing the work without permits. I would look into purchasing the house and have the current homeowner pay for the permits and fine. You may then be open to the tax assessor re evaluating the home and a tax inncrease will follow.
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Jeffrey Vroom, Agent, Clinton, NJ
Tue Sep 2, 2008
Hi David,
Are you buying through an agent? Your aent will be able to answer your questions. If you need an agent, I will be glad to help. I live in Warren County and am very familiar with local codes. I have a client who has a very similiar situation in Washington Twp.
Once you purchase the home, you purchase EVERYTHING, including outstanding permits, and work done without permits. The tax assessor will drop by shortly after your purchase and take a tour of the property. If there is a basement that has been finished and he didn't know about it, your taxes will go up! Please email me and I'll be happy to hepl.
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Paul Howard, Agent, Cherry Hill, NJ
Tue Sep 2, 2008
The construction office in the town where the house is located could make you take it out.
They would at least require you to get and pay for permits and do any work required to make it meet code.
The assessor would re evaluate the house and that could affect the taxes. (In this case you lost a garage and gained living space so it might be a wash).
Call the construction in the township and ask them. At some point they WILL find out.
I had a similar situation last year where the seller had finished the attic. We included provision in the contract requiring the seller have it inspected and reassessed and put a cap on how much the tax could be increased.
AND, the seller did it.

This is an EXTREMELY common situation. Unfortunately.

Paul Howard Broker Realty
NAEBA member

Paul Howard, Broker
0 votes
William Leigh…, , New Jersey
Tue Sep 2, 2008
David: Any home construction requiring permits REQUIRES PERMITS. If the Municipal authority discovers that work has been done without approval, perhaps during the CO inspection or at some subsquent time, there will be only two alternitives: One: Tear it out Two: Get all the inspections done, which may include tearing out major portions to see things such as plumbing and wiring behind walls. It will also entail paying the permit fees, which are usually based on current construction costs.

Bottom line: No permit, no purchase.
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