Home Renovations done without permits
It is not uncommon for work to be done in homes without the permits required by the town. Some is what amounts to small jobs: adding an outlet, replacing a hot water heater are examples. Other jobs are much larger and when complete could result in an increase in property assessment. Examples include: finishing basements and walkup attics - even adding bathrooms.
What can happen?
The range of things that can happen if the town finds out varies from nothing to --the town can make you remove all the work done without permits. For some work (Capital Imporvements) there can be real estate tax implications.
If you are house hunting one of the things your agent should alert you to (if they know) is unpermitted work. In my experience the most common area of unpermitted work is finishing a basement without permits. A finished basement (assuming it was done reasonably well) will add value (and possibly taxes) to a home. Finishing a basement would require multiple permits. Building, electrical, possibly also insulation and plumbing. Maybe more. This is such a common issue that some buyers want to let it pass but they should do so knowing that if it is later caught (maybe at the time of a town revaluation) by the town they may be subject to higher taxes, they may be forced to get the required permits and have the work inspected. This may require tearing out part of it to provide visual inspection accessb
Can your agent help?
An experienced agent should be able to spot many instances of unpermitted work. Sloppy electrical work is common and a sure sign it was done without permits. If homeowners do work on homes they own and occupy they can generally pull their own permits. They should. When it comes time to sell and they fill out the disclosure it is much better to honestly say that permits were pulled than say -unknown. (Many times sellers think saying -unknown is not as big a lie as saying -no- but it really is - unless, of course, it is true.)
When I show homes I routinely tell my client what I think of the condition. If I suspect work was done without permits -
I let them know and suggest ways to deal with the problem.
Paul Howard, Broker