12 Apr 2018

Mark Zawaideh

The Problem with Remediating Unpermitted Work at Home


discover-unpermitted-workUnpermitted work can be a serious issue for homeowners, potential buyers and sellers. Uncovering that work performed proceeded without necessary permits may make it likely that the work was not done according to current codes, such as with electrical work. In addition, once it is known, it will be necessary to disclose any unpermitted work to potential buyers. However, what happens when this was not done and a new homeowner stumbles upon work which has not been properly permitted?

Review the Blueprints

A homeowner may get a better idea of unpermitted repairs by reviewing the blueprints. In this way it can be easy to notice whether or not a closet or sunroom was part of the original plan of the home. This may not provide information on the permits obtained but may give a homeowner a place to start looking when it comes to unpermitted repairs.

It is better to get a full idea of the potential changes that may have been performed to the footprint of a home and any permits required prior to going through the process of remedying unpermitted work. Those homeowners who may not be able to locate the home's original blueprint may want to contact the previous owners or search city records for the document needed.

Understand the Issue

There are a number of problems that may occur with unpermitted work. Unpermitted work may mean that any repairs or additions performed did not meet certain codes. This may become important with weight-bearing structures, such as decks, and with electrical work on older homes. An injury due to such an issue may cause a legal and financial problems for a homeowner as homeowner's insurance may not cover work that was not properly permitted. Unpermitted electrical work can cause a potential fire hazard when not performed correctly. This can put homeowners and their families at risk.

While it may be less expensive to perform work oneself rather than hire a licensed professional or contractor, it is necessary to get the proper permits. This is a step that a homeowner may not be aware of or may not think is required for a specific repair or improvement. It is more difficult to obtain permits after the fact than prior to starting work. Work performed that is unpermitted may make for challenges for homeowners when it comes time to list a home for sale.

When Discovering Unpermitted Repairs

A homeowner faced with unpermitted repairs can either obtain the necessary permits or decide to live with the repair and decide to sell a home as-is. In the case when unpermitted repairs are not addressed and there are no permits, a homeowner often does not receive full value for their home. A homeowner who finds unpermitted work and decides to sell their home must disclose such a problem to potential buyers.

Read more about disclosing unpermitted work before decided to sell a home. Homeowners deciding to sell a home as-is may attract a smaller pool of homebuyers willing to take the risk of purchasing a property with unpermitted repairs or upgrades. If the city were to find out about the need for permits on a property, they can potentially demand that permits are obtained.

How to Get a Permit for Unpermitted Repairs

It is important for homeowners to understand the requirements in their city. These may be found through the city's building department. In general, permit steps include:

  • Filing a permit application;
  • Completing a site plan;
  • Making a plan approval appointment;
  • Obtaining the permit;
  • Getting necessary inspections while the construction process in underway; and
  • Completing the construction project or repair as approved by the city.

Understand that retroactive permitting may be possible. In such instances, a permit may be obtained without a Farmington homeowner having to begin from scratch and removing the unpermitted repair. This is not always the case as it may be necessary to show that unpermitted repairs were done to code.

Work Requiring Permit

A homeowner may have one or more unpermitted repairs or upgrades. Renovations that often need a permit include:

  • A change to the footprint of a home, such as a room addition or deck.
  • Fences of a specified height.
  • A hole to add a new window.
  • Changes to original plumbing.
  • Installation of new electrical service or moving an outlet.
  • Alterations to a home's support system, including changes to decks, porches, balconies and load-bearing walls.

These are some of the few general types of work that require a permit. Check to find out which permits may be required on a project and ensure that any contractor hired has obtained all necessary permits to perform repairs or a home renovation. Homeowners who have found unpermitted repairs in their home often find that the city will help them make necessary changes and not penalize them. Some state laws may offer protection for unaware homeowners who are unlucky enough to have purchased a home without knowing of unpermitted repairs. Start taking steps to address the situation today.

Topics: Home Improvement Tips