Here’s a Handy Q & A to help you get a handle on building codes when you’re buying or selling a home.
Q Some of the work on this house was done without building permits. Does it matter?
A Building codes exist to protect residents from loss and injury; the first thing to find out is, has the unpermitted work been performed to building code standards? Is it safe?
Q If I do any other work will I have to “fix” the unpermitted things?
A Building permit practices vary from city to city; most municipalities have not so far made it a policy to investigate an entire structure when new permits are taken out (although some cities do). Any inspector will flag dangerous or egregiously defective conditions.
Q Shouldn’t I set the record straight?
A Always contact a qualified real estate attorney for definitive answers concerning your legal obligations and liabilities. Remark that, if the living area is smaller than shown in the public record, a correction may result in a re-assessment and increased property tax.
Q Won’t work without permits affect the house’s value?
A Left unaddressed, unpermitted work will put current Buyers on the receiving end of this question when they go to sell. If they sell in a sellers’ market this is less likely to cost them much.
I hope this helps.
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