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. http://www.davidorozcoassoc.com.
David Orozco Associates
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 go...now 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.
Area Pro Realty-People's Choice
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: https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/Check
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.
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.
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.
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.