What to Know about Unpermitted Work

Unpermitted work isn’t something which really concerns homeowners; that is, until it’s resale time. Once believing you wouldn’t move (again), you took the opportunity to customize the home a bit. Refreshing the kitchen with a few new cosmetic and functional touches and even doing a few quick and easy bath updates, it’s quality work, but done without a permit. Now, you’re wondering what to do about said unpermitted work and it’s a good thing to deal with.

What to Know about Unpermitted Work

While there are several common home selling mistakes, like choosing the wrong initial pricing strategy, turning down the first reasonable offer, and trying to sell your home on your own without an industry professional, few home sellers think about all their legal responsibilities. The fact of the matter is, a home purchase is a super large transaction and when you list your home for sale, you are legally required to make certain disclosures.

“Before putting your house on the market, you may want to think about whether buyers will raise questions that had never before concerned you, concerning improvements by previous owners. For example, does the house include any additions to the original construction, such as a sunroom, extra bedroom, or new bathroom? If so, was the work permitted by the city?” —Nolo.com

A colossal mistake is to believe you’ll be able to sneak by work done without a permit because it’s so seamless and blends right into the house. But an experienced home inspector could easily discover unpermitted work. Even if that’s not the case, the documents needed to “close” the transaction might conflict. For instance, adding on a few more square feet or converting a study or other room into a bedroom. The point being, there is just too much due diligence to be sure you’ll be able to skate through to closing without it being discovered.

That’s not all the bad news, if work done without a permit was the responsibility of a previous owner, the legal liability was passed to you when you bought the home. So, what are your options to sell a home with unpermitted work? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Learn if it was originally permitted. The very first step you should take is to learn if a permit was issued when the work was originally done. While this won’t necessary be easy, it will be more than worthwhile if you discover a matching issued permit from the past. In addition, you’ll need to learn if an inspection was performed and passed.
  • Have it professionally inspected. If you cannot find a matching inspection and/or a matching permit, schedule a code inspection to assess the quality of the work. At this point, you’re really needing to know if it is in compliance with the local and/or state building codes.
  • Determine if it can be “grandfathered.” There are two scenarios going forward: the work is not contemporarily code compliant or it has never been code compliant. If it is the former, you might be able to have it deemed as grandfathered. However, if it is the latter case, you’ll likely have to rectify the work.
  • Rectify anything out of compliance. Hire an experienced and licensed contractor to rectify the situation so it is in compliance with the latest building codes. Then, you can just schedule a repair re-inspection. At this point, a building inspector will assess the quality of the work and you should be able to get all the necessary documentation needed. You can then place the home on the local multiple listing service for sale.

These suggestions should help you take actionable steps to resolve an unpermitted work situation. When you are ready to sell your home here in the Hunter’s Creek community or the Orlando area, contact us. We’ll help you devise a marketing plan to sell your property for the best price.