i am buying a home, in which the owner converted the Garage into Living room and it is not yet approved. dose this make any problem after i purchase?

Asked by Saro, 07034 Tue Feb 23, 2010

the Garage was converted into a living room and the approval from the local municipal is still pending. if i buy this home, what will be my issue?
1. do the tax on the home will increase?
2. if they disapprove, do i need to roll back to garage?
3. what is your suggestion on this case?

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Adrienne Sol…, , Metuchen, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010
Hello Saro,
When you are purchasing a home one of the things you should always check for is any major projects that where done to the home for ex. addtions, pools, Converting a garage into a living room. And make sure there were permits on all the work that was done.
-If you decide to buy a home without permits then you are taking a risk. Such as safty issues and when you decide to sell the home the next buyers who come in will ask about the oermits and now its your responsibilty. And permits are a pain to get not to mention expensive.
-In your situation with the garage being converted into a livingroom, alot of times buyers are turned off by that even though it adds living space, the house has no garage. These days buyers are big on storage space.
- Taxes I'm not positive on but I would think they would increase becuase there is more living space.
Hope I helped you in answering your questions.
Best Regards,
Adrienne Soltis
Keller Willams Elite Realtors
Direct: 732-991-3117
0 votes
Bob Ritger, , Mendham, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010

Several important bits of advice have already been offered regarding the transaction but, alas, there are more things to consider.

Converting a garage to living space requires significant attention to the building envelope. If the modifications were done properly then a true thermal break was constructed so that the original concrete garage floors, walls and ceilings do not degrade thermal performance. All of the walls and the ceiling of a garage would normally not include insulation and may not include thermally insulated windows. Depending on whether there is living space above the garage, insulation above the ceiling is required and a vapor barrier is needed throughout. A simple inspection now, after the fact, will not be able to answer all of these important issues. Hopefully there are architectural drawings, construction photographs and other means to conduct a full investigation. Otherwise I would advise against making an offer on the house until you have been able to inspect the inside of all exterior walls, a portion of the floor structure and the ceiling plenum above. I'd be very interested in the HVAC system used for the space and whether it is serviced from an existing system or an auxiliary system.

FWIW, I have been a licensed architect in NJ and I'm currently a licensed realtor in Morris County.

-Bob Ritger
Sales Associate

Coldwell Banker
106 East Main Street
Mendham, NJ 07945
Phone: (973) 543 - 2552
Mobile: (973) 349 - 9921
Fax: (863) 345 - 2832
Web Reference:  http://www.BobRitger.com
0 votes
Tej Bhatnagar, Agent, Livingston, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010
Hi Saro,
Currently working in Lake Hiawatha, I can tell you that Parsippany does not require a CO when the house is sold. It only requires a fire/smoke certification. You should resolve this issue in attorney review prior to going any further with the purchase. The seller will want to sell it as is but you could be buying his problem. If or when the town comes to reassess all homes, they will discover your finished garage and you could be fined or you may have to go thru the permit process (it's their decision). They could also make you convert it back to a garage. The issue here is the town does rough inspections on framing, electrical, plumbing, fire, insulation, etc, all of which are behind any finished walls, and then a final CO issured to use the space. This insures the contractor did his job to provide you a safe and habital living space. As far as taxes, the space is now considered liveable so the taxes most probably will increase. My suggestion is to get the sellers to do the leg work and get the proper permits on their dime. It saves you fines and money in the long run and you can be assured you are buying a safe place to grow your family.

You can visit my website below for more info. If you have any questions, however small, feel free to contact me.
TJ Bhatnagar

The Finest Compliment I Can Receive is a Referral from my Friends & Clients...
Thank you for your Trust....

Tej "TJ" Bhatnagar
Real Estate Associate
Weichert Realtors
Mountain Lakes Office
Route 46 at Cherry Hill Road
Mountain Lakes, NJ 07046
Cell: 973-906-2985
Email: TejBhatnagar@yahoo.com
Website: http://www.TJSellsHomes.com
Web Reference:  http://www.TJSellsHomes.com
0 votes
Jeff Belonger, , Cherry Hill, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010
Mary brings up one of the best issues... were permits required? And as others have stated, each county and state is different on their requirements about this and CO's. And yes, talk to your county tax office and she what are the required steps.

One thing that wasn't really mentioned is the appraisal and the lender. The appraiser will usually note this and the lender could cut value and or look into this all further.

My biggest concern is for the fact that you have not bought the house as of yet. So it's not the fact that you will have problems after you close, but very much so problems in closing, prior to buying the home. Speak to your loan officer about this. If they aren't sure, please don't hesitate to call me.


Jeffrey J. Belonger
Area Manager

Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc
Processing : 800-587-2762
Cell : 609-440-5133
Fax : 775-361-6619
e-mail : jbelonger@ihmci.com
0 votes
Marc Paolella, Agent, Succasunna, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010
Hi Saro,

Absolutely get this resolved now. You could have big problems with the town later if the conversion is illegal and a neighbor decides to rat you out. You could have problems with homeowners insurance if you file a claim and it is discovered you have an illegal or unapproved modification. There are so many problems that can result from unpermitted improvements like this that I can't even count them.

Take care of it now or do not buy the house.


Marc Paolella
Relocation Director/Appraiser
Century 21 Joe Tekula Realtors
Phone (direct): (973) 584-4235
Web: http://www.marcpaolella.com
0 votes
Mary Grunmei…, , Morris Plains, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010
There are a few things going on here...when they converted the garage to the living room, were permits required? And, if they were required, were the obtained? And, if they were obtained, have they been closed? These issues should be settled during the attorney review period. In every town I know of, converting the garage to a living room, which increases the liveable square-footage of the home, will increase the taxes. Your agent and attorney should make sure the permit issues are noted in the original contract and in the attorney review process.
0 votes
Gina Chirico, Agent, Fairfield, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010

I agree with Jack and you should have this issue resolved prior to closing on the home. I'm not familiar with Lake Hiawatha's Certificate of Occupancy but the seller may not even be able to get one if this approval is still an open issue with the town. I can tell you in a town like Cedar Grove in Essex County, a house cannot be sold without a working garage that fits a car. No ifs, no ands, no buts.....the town would never even issue a CO without a garage, but every town varies.

I would definitely speak to your attorney and if it was me or my buyer, I wouldn't make it become my problem or my buyer's. I would see to it that the seller resolved any approvals and/or issues before proceeding with its purchase.

In the event the town denies the conversion, are you still willing to buy the home? That's something to think about.

Good luck.

Gina Chirico, Sales Associate
Prudential NJ Properties
973-715-1158 cell
973-992-6363 ext 116
0 votes
Jack Vollenb…, Agent, Flemington, NJ
Tue Feb 23, 2010
Hi Saro,

You definitely want this potential issue resolved before you buy the house. To answer your questions in order:
1. Yes, your tax assessment almost certainly will be reassessed. This does not mean they will automatically go up, but chances are they will. Put an inquiry in with the local tax assessor's office.
2. That could be a potential outcome. The conversion really should not have been made from garage to living room without the approval in place. There could be penalties as well.
3. Make the sale contingent upon the seller obtaining approval on the conversion. If you close on the house without these issues sorted out you could be held liable. Talk this over with your attorney: They will provide you with the legal protection and information you need. Remember, this is not meant as legal advice as only your attorney can provide you with such.

Good luck!

Jacobus "Jack" Vollenberg
RE Appraiser - Vollenberg Appraisers
Realtor/REO Asset Manager - ERA Statewide Realty
Office (908) 968-0336
Cell (973) 590-0142
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