This Type of Upgrade Could Spell Big Trouble


Buying a home that has been upgraded or remodeled is usually a great thing. But there’s one major exception to this rule.

If you’re looking at a home that has had any unpermitted work done, you could find yourself facing major problems. Homeowners (or contractors) are supposed to pull permits for the majority of the work that’s done on properties. And if they didn’t, the consequences can be dire — and can extend to the new owner.

Before you take out a mortgage on a home that’s had unpermitted work, make sure you know what to expect.

Keep reading to see why buying a house with unpermitted work could be such a big problem.

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Unpermitted work means the job may not have been done to code

When a homeowner or contractor gets a permit for work performed, the work can be subject to an inspection by building code enforcers. Those performing the work will need to meet specific safety regulations and requirements in order for the job to pass muster.

But if the work isn’t permitted, then there’s no threat of an inspection. And often those who cut corners on permits may also not follow all of the safety code regulations fully. This could mean that your home isn’t as safe as it should be.

You could face fines, permit costs, and be forced to tear out the work

If your city or township discovers unpermitted work once you’ve purchased the house, this could be a huge problem for you. You could be forced to tear out the remodel or upgrades or bring them up to code by redoing much of the work. You could also face fines and penalties for not getting the required permits in the first place.

It doesn’t matter if the previous owner was the one who broke the rules or did a shoddy job. Once you become the homeowner, you’re on the line for the unpermitted remodel and will be the one to face the consequences if it’s discovered.

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What should you do if you’re interested in a house with unpermitted work?

Homeowners in most states need to disclose whether any unpermitted work has been done on the home. If you see this in a disclosure, you have a few choices.

You could require as a condition of the purchase that the current homeowners resolve the issue by obtaining the required permits and making sure the work is up to code. The unfortunate thing is, this could take months and many homeowners may be unwilling to go through the process.

Your other option is to walk away. While this may be disappointing if you love the house, you could save yourself a lot of headaches and a lot of money.

Finally, you could go forward with the sale and fix the issue yourself by getting the permits. This could mean fines and redoing work to bring it up to code.

Or you could just hope that you’re never caught, which could become a problem if you are, or if you go to sell the home. You may also have an issue with your mortgage lender if they are worried about the unpermitted work.

Think carefully about which of these options is best, because you don’t want to make a choice you’ll regret.

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