First of all what is un-permitted work?
Un-permitted work is work or construction done on a home by either a licensed or unlicensed person that does not carry the necessary permits to make it legal according to the local laws and ordinances. You can check out Orange County Florida’s permitting rules and ordinances here.
Whether you are buying or selling a home in Orlando or in the surrounding communities, improvements or repairs done to a home without permits can be a huge pain to deal with. They can cost you a lot of time and money to fix and get corrected.
As a realtor I have seen a lot of un-permitted work situations and they always cause a hassle and can definitely be a deal breaker. People have asked me numerous times if I think they should pull or apply for a permit. You can apply for a permit in Orange County here.
The answer is yes ! Always YES!
It might cause you some hassle and money in the beginning, but it is a whole lot cheaper to get the permit and do it right up front. If you don’t it will always come up to bite you later if you try to sell the home or if really done wrong, you might not be able to get insurance.
What should you do as a buyer or seller when you do find work that has been completed without permits?
Buyers- You can always… either ask the seller to remediate the situation and fix it themselves before you buy… or you can ask for a discount for the non-permitted work (if your inspector says the work was done properly and is not a hazard) or you can move on to find another home. Don’t be afraid to keep looking for homes if the permit is a major problem or you just don’t want to deal with it.
Sellers- If you are selling and have been living in a home and or were not the original owner and your inspector or title company did not find the un-permitted work when you bought the home, or you had work done only to find out the contractor you hired never got a permit…you have options.
If you have discovered that you have non permitted work ,you will need to make the decision to either try to get it inspected and get a permit, or if the work is not able to be seen or fixed, then you might want to sell as-is. You will probably have to sell at a big discount to people who are willing to take on the risk of the lack of a permit.
Do not try to sell without disclosing the un-permitted work. The consequences will be serious if it is discovered down the road. Especially if the work was shoddy and it hurts someone, it will come back to you if it can be proven you knew about it. You can have a big lawsuit on your hands and it can cost you time and thousands of dollars. It will cost way more than the original permit and work most likely, if you get sued.
Before you make a decision on what steps you will take figure out how much it will cost to fix the permitting problem and depending on if the non-permitted work was extensive. You may have to get drawings done by an architect if it was a major addition or change to the existing structure. If it was an addition on or major repairs to the home you may be asked to go through a series of inspections.
Inspections like :
This can get expensive if you need to modify or change existing walls, plumbing or roofing. You need to calculate and see if it is worth doing or just taking a loss by selling at a discount and letting the future homeowner deal with it.
If the work is up to code or just minor like putting up a fence or replacing a window and was done well, sometimes all you need is the inspector to come out and approve the work and give you a permit and approve it.
These are all things you will need to consider when buying or selling a home with un-permitted work.
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