It’s common for homeowners to have work done without obtaining a required permit. Sometimes people assume that a permit isn’t necessary, and sometimes they know a permit is mandatory for a particular type of work, but they don’t want to go through the process of getting one or pay the fee. If you had home improvements done without a permit and you plan to sell your house, you should disclose that information to potential buyers.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Tell Prospective Buyers About Unpermitted Work
When selling a house, you have a legal obligation to disclose any work you’re aware of that was done without a permit. If you don’t, you may face a series of repercussions.
Unpermitted work may not be up to current building codes and may not be safe. If you don’t tell a potential buyer about work done without a permit, the buyer moves in and someone gets hurt, the buyer can sue you for failing to disclose the issue.
A buyer may check to make sure a permit was obtained for renovations and learn that one wasn’t. If a buyer learns about unpermitted work before the sale goes through, a lender may not approve financing, the buyer may ask you to lower the price or the buyer may decide to walk away.
How to Sell Your House If You Had a Project Done Without a Permit
If you have to sell your home soon, you can list it “as is” and disclose the unpermitted work. Being honest and upfront can save both you and a potential buyer a lot of headaches. A buyer who chooses to purchase your house knowing that work was done without a permit assumes responsibility for any consequences that may arise from it.
You may have to reduce your asking price. If you had a major project, such as an addition, completed without a permit, your real estate agent may recommend that you deduct a significant amount to account for that. If, on the other hand, you had minor work done without a permit, you may only have to adjust the price a little, or maybe not at all.
If you don’t want to lower your asking price or run into any hassles, you can seek a retroactive permit before you put your home on the market. You can contact your local building department, explain the type of unpermitted work that was done and have the house inspected to make sure it complies with the building code.
If it does, you will be able to pay the permit fee, plus applicable penalties, get a permit and not have to worry about it when you sell your house. If the project doesn’t meet the building code’s requirements, you may have to spend money to bring it up to code, but once you do that, you won’t have to worry about reducing the asking price or having a potential sale fall through.