Bill Mahogany, Home Owner in San Jose, CA

Building permit fine and penalty

Asked by Bill Mahogany, San Jose, CA Tue Jun 26, 2012

I just bought a home where the previous owner modified the garage by adding an enclosure around the washing machine to create some sort of laundry room. If I want to make this "permitted" by city of San Jose. What do I need to do? and do I have to penalty for them?

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VWhaus’ answer
Hello Bill,
If you're still in need of some direction, I can help. I provide comprehensive architectural services and to produce the documents needed for the City of San Jose Building department approval is my specialty. Drop me a line and we can chat about the process.

David Orozco
David Orozco Associates
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 11, 2012
Hi Bill:

Thanks for your post. This is a tough question, and much as I'd like to advocate going with Mitchell Pearce's suggestion to let it that you've brought it up and because I hold a license, I have to err on the side of trying to either get it permitted or remove the walls to conform with current building codes.

Your best bet, as a starter, is to contact your local and trusted general contractor to have him or her look at the laundry area and determine what, if anything needs to be done to obtain approval from the City. General contractors know the building codes and should be able to tell you whether the laundry room can stay or must go, and the probable best way to handle your permit application with the city. Using this information, you can then choose your best methods to working with the city and what you need to do to obtain approval.

Good luck!! Again, start with the contractor BEFORE you start with the City.

Grace Morioka
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
Bill Mahogany:
I would let sleeping dogs lie.
Mitchell Pearce
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
For the most accurate answer, ask the City of San Jose:
I'm sure they will be happy to find any other non-conforming items in your home as well.
If I were you, I would first have 3 contractors come in and give you bids and opinions. Best to use licensed contractors. You can check their license status here:…
Most home sales are purchased as-is (especially if bank owned sale) so it is more than likely you have inherited this issue and now own it along with the house.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
Depends on setbacks etc. Go to the city and ask general questions.

If you require assistance with this process contact:
Ray at Land Entitlement Consulting at 408-315-1100 they handle permits and processing.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
Bill -

You could contact city planning and they can send out an inspector to review. Only they can answer whether or not penalties are going to be assessed, however, the city prefers owners who want to the right thing and cure an issue.

Depending on the structure, whether or not electrical and/or plumbing were installed or moved, the inspector may need drywall to be removed (or sections) to be able to confirm code has been met.

It may be worth getting a license contractor in the area to take a look before calling the city as many times a contractor will be able to give you a ball park cost to expose/correct/repair.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
Check the city code requirements. Depending upon the size of the garage you may not be allowed to have the enclosure. I know someone who has converted the garage in a room and enclosed the laundry area (without permits). You can verify city code online, also talk to them about requirements.

Good luck
Monica Goyal
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
You should contact the town building dept and speak to them.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
Hi Bill,

I would speak to a few local contractors that can check it out up front to see what it would take to be permitted.

Kind regards,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 6, 2014
My understanding is that it is the sellers responsibility to disclose such issues as remodels, additions, and the like. As a part of that process, they are supposed to let you know if the work was done by a licensed contractor and if the correct permits were pulled. If the permits were not pulled, then they technically should pay for the inspection, which will tell you what needs to happen. Sorry about the mess you are in; I hope it gets resolved.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 5, 2014
Hi Bill

Congrats on buying the house in this market. Thanks for your question

With regards to conversion, it is simple, if square footage was added iliegally, then its unlikely you will be able to convert it to legal with permits. If it is in your garage it all comes down to how good the workmanship and was it done to "Today's Code".

It is prudent to talk to a contractor first.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
Since I was not a party to the contract when you purchased your home, and I am not an attorney, therefor I can not speak to whether they would be liable for any penalty due to non permitted structure.

I will speak in general terms. When you purchased the home there were disclosures and advisories which (if you used an agent) you would/should have received. In them they advise the Buyer to get inspections. A compitent inspector would have noted if something appeared to be non permitted. Also, the questions ask the Seller to disclose. If these advisories were there and you as a buyer decided to do nothing then you purchased the home in it's current condition. It wouldn't be fair to try to go back and plead ignorant.

If on the other hand someone misrepresented the facts and you relied on poor information that is for an attorney to review.

Now to the big part of the question. Is what are you trying to accomplish? I would hope that you are leaning on health and safety of the structure. Permits are there to prevent harm to home owners. So with that, I agree with Grace, get a contractor and go from there.

This is a very good question. Thank you for asking us.

Have an amazing day.
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0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jun 26, 2012
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