A Guide To Selling House With Unpermitted Work

Suppose you’ve made the decision to purchase an unfinished house to turn it into a rental property or flip it for a profit when the time comes. Based on what you’ve read online, you feel like you’ve gotten yourself into a pickle since you didn’t know much going in and didn’t do any research. It dawns on you that you probably should have gotten a permit before making many of your renovations.

You have remodeled the bathroom, demolished a wall, relocated the gas line to the stove, shifted the baseboards, rerouted the plumbing, and rewired the whole space. You haven’t yet installed new cabinets and appliances in the kitchen, and you’re not sure whether you need a building permit to do so. 

If you believe selling a house with unpermitted work would be difficult, you could decide against moving further. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources into the home, and now you simply want to get out of there. What, if anything, might you do to make the residence more appealing to potential buyers?

Why Is A Permit Important? 

Getting the necessary permits from your local government is an absolute must before tackling any renovations impacting the water, gas, electricity, or sanitation infrastructure. If you want to start a home improvement project, you’ll need to ensure you have the legally required permits first.

It would be best if you had a permit for anything beyond minor repairs. The local zoning, building, and land use regulations may be rather strict, so getting the appropriate permissions is vital to ensure your projects are legal. If you want your project to go off without a hitch and keep everyone involved safe, you’ll need to get the necessary permissions. 

It’s risky business to sell a home with unpermitted work. If a home buyer discovers later that there’s unpermitted work on the house while you held it, you might be sued for failing to disclose the work.

There is always the possibility of liability if you sell a home that has had unpermitted renovations done by a previous homeowner, like electrical work done without a permit by the previous owner. Knowing what constitutes unpermitted work done on a house and any other relevant information is thus essential prior to selling your home.

A lot of people don’t realize they need a permit until after they’ve already finished a project. When homeowners have work done on their homes without the proper permits, they run into major roadblocks when trying to sell. If you want to save money, it’s one thing to have work done without permits, but it’s a whole different ball game if you don’t know it was done. 

Why Do Houses Have Unpermitted Work?

Permitting costs may be rather pricey. Many homeowners hire a contractor who might be disreputable because they believe they’re saving money.

However, these contractors undercut their competitors because they aren’t adhering to all the necessary permitting processes, as stated by the local building codes. Without spending money on a construction permit, the remodeling expenses are reduced.

However, contractors have been known to fib on occasion. Con artists will bill homes for permits they never bother to get. Homeowners risk litigation and substantial repair costs when contractors demand payment for permits that were never obtained.

In addition to the unsettling knowledge that work was done on your home without proper permits or work was done without a permit by the previous owner, you’ll have to pay yet another company to fix the problem.

Since most of the work that requires a permit occurs inside the walls, including wiring, framing, insulation, and foundation work, they will have to repeat everything. To get to the sections of the remodeling that require permits, the new contractor will have to rip out the work that the old one didn’t obtain approval for.

How Can You Sell a House With Unpermitted Work?

Having a new contractor repair the property and getting a building permit after the fact is the way to go if you want to receive the best possible offer, even if it involves sinking a lot of money into it.

How to get a permit after work is done? To begin, inquire at the local building permit office about the possibility of pulling the permits yourself. There’s a chance you can handle the retroactive permitting on your own if the improvements aren’t too extensive.

The local building department will arrange for a building inspector to visit your site after filing for permission. Inspectors will not award a permit if significant problems have not been remedied. They will provide you with an itemized list of required renovations and permits for the property. A contractor will next need to be hired to carry out all of these tasks. 

You can encounter a few potential snags if you go the route of selling a home with unpermitted work through a local real estate agent. Many potential buyers, for instance, won’t even entertain the idea of buying a house with unpermitted work. 

It’s also possible that the house doesn’t match the requirements for a Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Department of Agriculture (USDA), or Veteran’s Affairs (VA) loan.

Given this, can you sell a house with unpermitted work? Real estate investment firms may be interested in purchasing a home despite the presence of unpermitted renovations.

They may be amenable to purchasing the home from you if the asking price is acceptable to them. There is a chance that these investors want to buy a house with a cash offer as part of a more extensive portfolio of house flips.

Final Thoughts

It probably weighs heavy on your mind: can I sue a previous owner for unpermitted work? The truth is that you or the previous owners might have run afoul of the ever-evolving local regulations governing construction permits. It might be tough to stay abreast of the ever-evolving zoning and building codes in your area due to their specificity and the frequent changes they undergo.

The contractor you choose to work on your home should be able to tell you what work requires a permit. If the contractor says that permits aren’t necessary, it’s a good idea to double-check their claim by looking up the relevant sections of the local building regulations on your own.

Ensure the contractor provides evidence that they have obtained the necessary permissions before beginning work. Nonetheless, be wary since they may easily duplicate and forge construction licenses.

Check the validity of the permit number your contractor provided by calling the appropriate local permitting authority. By taking this precaution, you may safeguard your house against unapproved renovations.

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