Remediating Unpermitted Work? What You Need to Know

Posted by Justin Havre on Thursday, January 3rd, 2019 at 9:28am.

What You Can Do When You Discover Unpermitted Work In Your HomeThe home permitting process is an important one. Without permits, there would be no ability to control for quality in new home and existing home construction. Insurance companies and home buyers rely on the permitting process to ensure that the homes in their communities are safe and functional.

Unpermitted work is a problem because it is often not done to code, and even if it is, there is usually no way to certify this is the case. Only through the permitting process can a homeowner be totally sure that their home is built with safety and modern building standards in mind.

How Permits Work

When a permit is pulled, this is a signal to the local building inspectors that a home improvement project is underway and it will soon need to be inspected. At a certain point, often about midway through the project, the inspector will come to ensure that the work is being done properly. Often the inspector will come again when the project is finished to ensure that the work is done right. If the work is not done right, the inspector will require the homeowner or contractor to fix the problems the contractor has identified.

There are also times when a home is for sale and it is then the home is inspected. This is the result of the home buying process. Unpermitted work may then arise as a result of this inspection as well.

When Unpermitted Work Becomes a Problem

Unpermitted work can become a problem for different reasons. Homeowners who want to sell their house will sometimes find that they cannot sell for full price unless the unpermitted work is remediated. If they do not remediate, their home may sell for far less. ​Unpermitted work can also become a problem if it's not done correctly. The point of the permitting process is to ensure that the work is done as it should be. When it's not done correctly, sometimes this can result leaks, fires or structural problems, depending on the nature of the work.

Often an insurance company will not insure a home that has unpermitted work. If a fire or covered event is discovered to be a result of unpermitted work, insurance companies may deny claims from the homeowner.

How to Remediate Unpermitted Work

Remediating unpermitted work is a process that usually starts by hiring a contractor and getting a new permit. Typically, the contractor will have no way to know whether or not the unpermitted work has been done properly. The only way to find out is often to tear out a wall and see what's happening underneath. If the work was done right, the inspector can be called in to inspect the work. Then the home can be put back in its original state. Sometimes the unpermitted work is done so incorrectly that remediating it is deemed to be too expensive. Homeowners can either live with the work done incorrectly, or can tear the work down and start over entirely.

Remediating unpermitted work can be a leap of faith. Often contractors have no way to know how much of the work is done incorrectly and how much of the work is done right. Contractors cannot usually quote a price for repairs until they're well into the work. Homeowners who choose to remediate their unpermitted work must be prepared to pay large sums.

Hiring a Contractor

Homeowners who want to get their unpermitted work remediated must start by hiring a contractor. When looking for a contractor, it's important to hire someone who is experienced and familiar with local building codes. Ideally, the contractor who is hired will be someone who has done this kind of work in the past. It's also important to ensure that the contractor who is hired is someone with integrity, since the homeowner will be hiring that person to open up their walls and tackle whatever challenges they find inside.

How to Sell with Unpermitted Work

Homeowners who have unpermitted work on their premises and who want to sell their house will be faced with a choice: remediate or leave it as is? Unpermitted work must be disclosed in the home purchase contract. In a case like this, it's important to work with a real estate agent who has good negotiating skills and who is familiar with the best ways to disclose issues in the home purchase agreement. Homeowners who choose to remediate will need to have the situation fully addressed before listing their home on the market. If their home gets the proper permits, the property will likely sell for much more.

For more information about unpermitted work when trying to sell a Chaparral home, contact a real estate professional. Your real estate professional can give you more information.

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