Un-Permitted work?

Did an inspection on a home with a 700 sqft kitchen, bedroom and bathroom addition. Work was done in 2002. No building permits found, only permit was for the heavy up.

What’s the risk, if any, for the buyers, and what do you tell them when this is found?

I would inspect/report on the addition as if it were part of the original house (because since 2002 it has been). Verification of building permits is not part of my service. You can always refer them to the local permit office if they are concerned about any permits that were or should have been issued.

Did that particular area require permits at the time? There are areas around me that only require Electrical, Septic, and Well permits. Did a series of Phase inspections this last summer… 5,000 sq/ft… no permits other than those mentioned above.

Two things that would probably make me keel over from shock at an inspection: a permit and an honest disclosure.

Notifying your client that unpermitted work exists provides them negotiating leverage. I do a FOIA request for every single inspection - commercial or residential. It doesn’t cost anything, and the information can be quite valuable.

FOIA Request … ???

A Freedom of Information Act request? Talk about overkill. If you are that interested, check online or give the building department a quick call.

If you suspect there is unpermitted work done, then inform your client and let them perform their due diligence. If you are performing work such as permit search, then charge accordingly. I have done it 3 times in 12 years.

Each town or county has a form available on the clerk’s website (FOIA request), with either check boxes on what you want (permit records, zoning, violations, etc), or space to describe what you want. It’s a simple fill-out-the-form and email it in type of deal. They are required to respond within a certain time period. So one form gets you the permit records, zoning info, fire code violations, building code violations, records of oil tank removals, etc. You don’t even have to pick up the phone. Some towns respond that they may charge per document for copies. I forward that email to the client and let them decide what they want to do. It’s free to send the form in, and it takes less than 5 minutes of effort. You can find un-permitted sheds or additions, or evidence of a tank closure, or open violations. That’s important info that the client would find useful. It may not be in the scope, but it’s free info. It’s like suspecting a flood zone. Would you not mention it, or would you go to the FEMA website and enter the address to find out. Or checking which aquifer supplies a well, or what type of soil was the home or building built on. All this info is free and readily available.

Consequences for no permit will be at the municipal level. Where I am, the owner of the house is responsible for any permits regardless of when work was done. My city will require a retro active permit, it will cost 1.5 times what the permit would have cost if applied for before the work was done. There will be an inspection, which may require taking stuff apart, (plumbing or electrical), any wrong stuff will need to be fixed.
Having said that the likelihood of the city ever finding out about interior work where modifications can’t be seen from outside are extremely low, such as basement development or kitchen remodel. Where people get caught is on additions, garages, decks, oversize fences, etc… The reason they get caught is not because the city has permit police but because banks want a real property report for financing, (essentially a survey), the real property report is submitted to the city, who compares it to the one they have on file, any changes and no permit, you’re busted.
Meanwhile in the small towns or rural districts around the city, it’s mostly “do whatever you want to do so long as it doesn’t frighten the cows” So, in order to advise people about permits or no, you need to pick up the phone and call the ahj.

I went on 2 web sites of cities by me and found nothing like what the east coast guy was talking about.

That’s unfortunate, I thought the process was universal. A lot of towns, counties and cities on the east coast have that process available. I just did one in Mecklenberg County NC last week, and got my results Tuesday.

Nope, not even close. Seems to me the states with “issues” are the only ones that have it, such as NY, NJ, FL, etc.