Do you know the pitfalls of unpermitted work when selling or purchasing a home?
by: Alicia Duffy
When preparing to sell your home suggestions are made to do necessary repairs and sometimes improvements to increase the sale price. From structural repairs to electrical repairs watch for contractors wanting to do on the cheap by avoiding the cost of pulling permits from the local building department. Sellers might be unaware of how unpermitted work can kill a sale or come back to haunt them down the road.
Some people think they can save money by hiring sub standard workers and no one will ever know. There are several places this corner cutting will be revealed. The Seller's Disclosure Notice does require the seller to mark if they are aware of any work done without necessary permits. If you don't disclose you could be setting yourself up for a costly lawsuit if problems arise from cutting corners. During the home inspection can bring up red flags as well especially if the current state of the home differs from previous descriptions.
Turning off potential home buyers is not the only risk of unpremitted work. Issues from financing, fines from local authorities and putting you at a lessor negotiation position. Lastly, putting the next owner at risk if the work was not done to current building codes or safely. I believe the latter is the most important. If more people would do to others the way they would want done to them we would all be better off.
You do not have to get a permit for everything like painting or changing light fixtures but larger projects need to be investigated for their need of permitting. It is also always a good idea for the contractor to be a bonded and insured professional. I ask before even scheduling the bid appointment if they are licensed, registered, bonded, and insured with liability for workers compensation. Let them know you will need to see that when they first come to your home. I take a quick picture of those items then include that with the repair or warranty receipts to give to the buyer.