by: Diane Vespucci ~ Re/Max 100 Realty

There’s nothing worse than having your heart set on buying a home only to realize there is space that haven’t been properly permitted….. Oh wait! There is something worse: Buying that property and then finding out. It can be a headache.
Some people do what their contractor says. They hire and trust the professional will do the right thing. Fortunately, that’s often true, but not always. And then there are some people, in what can most kindly be described as an effort at expediency, who do not bother to have their projects properly permitted for one reason or another. Not knowing you need a permit is not an excuse.
The county outlines what is necessary on its web page.
Enclosed space, notably porches, are often lacking permits. Part of the reason some people don’t bother to get a permit is that it saves money, either through the cost of the permit, which isn’t much, or on the additional taxes on the space. The government wants its piece of the action when you expand the square footage of your property. If it goes under heated and cooled space, it not only needs to be permitted, but that additional space will be taxed. Most of us don’t like being taxed.
As a buyer, be suspicious of additional space. Check on permits for a property. In fact, insist on having the permits checked before you buy. If an enclosed porch or addition isn’t permitted, ask the seller to have the space retroactively permitted. It’s a pain, but it’s a bigger pain to buy the place and find out down the road it’s now your responsibility to have the space permitted. If it’s discovered the space isn’t permitted, the fines for not permitting the enclosed area are yours too and they are expensive.
If you’re a seller, make sure you have any work permitted. If you’ve avoided doing it and you want to sell, plan on looking into having the permits pulled retroactively. If you did the work and didn’t disclose it was done unpermitted, you still may be liable. It’s your responsibility to disclose everything you know about the house, and that includes permits you avoided, if you’re aware of them.
Permitting is there for safety reasons. It’s to protect the consumer. Go ahead and be cynical about the tax portion, but be aware that a porch wasn’t made to hold up walls and a roof. Special things need to be done and while your contractor says he’s doing everything “to code”, make sure he gets the proper permits too. It protects everyone.
Permits! Don’t build-or buy without them!