What if you skipped the final inspection and occupancy permit?
Who cares? What can they do to you? What would it affect?
Depends on the laws and regs where you live
All the below are possibilities.
Can't close on mortgage.
Can't live in the house
Can't sell the house
I could go on but you get the picture.
The biggest concern regarding inspections is health and safety issues. They could care less about the quality of the build as long as everything meets the minimum code requirements typically geared for health and safety. The final inspection covers more of that than the previous inspections concerning structural, mechanicals, nailing schedules ,etc. The final has more of the safety/health concerns such as hand railings, finish mechanicals, entry concerns, etc that benefit you as the homeowner. It will be big trouble in little river city if you decide to skip out for many reasons, as J zn4 states.
But if there isn't a mortgage, and I plan on living there the rest of my life, who would create a problem for me?
Would a new buyer need an OP, say 35 years from now?
With regards to health and safety issues, we have covered those extensively. We are the GC, with some experience building 4 previous homes.
Who would keep me from living in the house?
We have no idea about your county's regulations, so we can't anwser with any good probablity.
The county may keep you from living in the house. They may not.
As mentioned above, it all depends on local regulations, the mortgage lender etc.
Whenever I have built for myself, I put off final inspection as long as possible. That's because the inspection record goes to the tax assessors and your taxes jump. In the last case, taxes went from about $4k to $12K. Every day saved is a penny earned.
If you already own the house outright and never plan to move, it's your choice whether to call the final. But if you made significant costly improvements and fail to notify the tax assessor's office, you may be violating the law.
Let me further explain my reason for the question.
I'm sure you are all familiar with septic issues. When we built our barn (which has an apartment with kitchen, laundry and full bath), about 8 years ago, we wanted to put in our sewer at the same time. They came out to see if the land would perk, which it did NOT. At all.
We were approved for an evaporation pond. Yes, I know, they don't do that very often. But they did. We built the pond based on the future house, and everything is correct about the pond with regard to the size (including the number of bathrooms, etc.), structure, and location.
But as we all know, different inspectors will approve/disapprove different things. Now, 8 years after original approval, we are afraid that the current political stance may be against evaporation ponds. Well, we know it's against evaporation ponds. It was against them then, but the land and the perk allowed us to be approved for one anyway.
There is nothing wrong with our pond. It is the right capacity, it is holding water, it has everything it needs and has been functioning without any issue for the last 8 years. But if the current inspector doesn't LIKE ponds, he may make us change it. Laterals wouldn't work, because we don't perk. So we would be left with a very expensive, and in our opinion ineffective and relatively untested-over-time, new system that is the currently on the "approved" list. I'm sure it's on the approved list because someone's brother-in-law's sister owns a company that puts them in. Or whatever. You know that's reality.
So that's my real issue. I'm not at all concerned about the health and safety of our home. We had our initial inspection, we have used "tried and true" contractors with experience and expertise, and we had a structural engineer pass everything when the framing was done.
We don't have a loan, and we will live there 'til we die. I know that things happen, and I don't want to leave my children with a mess, but I am honestly asking WHO is going to create a problem if we don't get an OP?
Does the assessor's office care? Who would make us move out? My DH used to be an insurance guy, so we know they don't care.
You don't get a OP. 10 Years down the road you have to sell the house. The building regs have changed.
You have to retrofit anything from a fire supression system to a septic system.
It will cost a lot more then.
The problem with putting this off is things change, a new town council or county board may be looking for new tax revenues, they crack down on people such as you. It could be a lot worse down the road then now.
It might not. It is your future your playing with not ours, so what we say really means nothing.
Concerning taxes,(and maybe off topic here), the states are collaborating and when you owe back taxes, the state you are residing in will put a hold or suspension on your drivers license due to driving privleges being revoked in the state that you owe. It's a newer program that they are starting to use and go by.
So if we got a final inspection on the barn 8 years ago...do you think that means that can't make us change the sewer for the house build?
The problem with calling someone to find out the regs in our area is...how to I phrase that question? "What happens if we don't get our FI and OP?" Somehow I doubt that's going to go over very well. I'm not sure WHERE to look for that info.
If they find out what you are doing they may be able to fine you, a hefty daily fine, until you remedy the situation. The remedy could be bringing the house up to CURRENT code, as jmagill described.
IMO you have a better chance of getting your septic approved now than years from now. As of right now it sounds like you haven't done anything wrong. If you were given a permit allowing this type of system they shouldn't reneg on that now. However, years from now, when you've been living in the house without an OP, they will likely be unhappy with you. Some towns will play hardball (fines, eviction, etc.).
I also think it is unlikely you will get away with it. How is it that they won't notice you are living there? Or that neighbors won't?
You have a legal working septic system. If the regs have not changed, I would say you have a better chance getting it your OP now than in the future.
Didn't you have to submit plans before you built the house? Did they not ask at that time what your plans were with regard to a septic system?
Out here you wont get the final assesment concerning property taxes witout getting your final/certificate of occupancy. You might inquire how that works in your area.
If you're wanting someone here to tell you "go for it", only a fool would give you that advise!
when you owe back taxes, the state you are residing in will put a hold or suspension on your drivers license due to driving privleges being revoked in the state that you owe
So a tax sale is not enough? What comes next? Debtor's prison? The stocks?
The US already incarcerates a higher percentage of its population than any other country on earth. Indeed, with just five per cent of the world population, it boasts of 25% of imprisoned persons worldwide. Another illustration of American greatness, no doubt.
To the OP, I'd get this straightened out sooner rather than later. I was thinking delay, not infinite scofflaw. (Though I do applaud the idea.)
Occupying a building without a Certificate of Occupancy means you are illegaly occupying the structure and subject to any penalties that accompany such an illegal occupancy.
Such penalties can range from:
1) Not being able to refinance or properly discharge a current mortgage
2) Not being able to make any insurance claim for fire, personal injury, or other casualty against the property because you should not be occupying the building at all.
3) Being held personally and fully liable for any damages to persons or property for anyone you invite or otheriwse has a legal right to enter your property by easement...and gets injured in the process.
4) Being forced to Vacate the Building by Court Order plus court costs and daily fines up to (usually) $500 to $1000 per day...
5) Can't sell the building or close on any real estate deal without a CO.
Only a complete MORON or full blown IDIOT would occupy a building without final Code Inspections or a building being Certified to Occupy........
There is NOTHING to be GAINED by not having proper inspection and a CO properly issued and only pain to suffer because one did not comply.
If you were issued a building permit to begin the process, then there should only be a formality about closing that building permit out with the final. Your home was approved to be build with your current septic. They can't change the requirements at final and make you "upgrade".
Now, if yours is an illegal build, with no permit, then of course you won't be able to get a occupancy permit---or home insurance, or town services---etc. Nor should you be able to get an occupancy permit without virtual demolition to prove that it was built correctly. THis is in the interest of public fire and health safety as well as your own health and safety. And, neighbors turn each other in all the time for the smallest of imagined slights. So do mailmen and delivery guys. If you built without a permit, you WILL get caught, fined, and probably have to tear the house down. You then will undergo twice the scrutiny necessary if you ever do decide to build again.
SOmeone who built their home legally and properly permitted and inspected all along has nothing to fear from a final inspection. Someone who was a scofflaw from the beginning should rightly fear inspections, but will have to deal with the consequences of their arrogance at some point. And it WILL cost them tremendously.
If you take out a homeowners policy on the house and neglect to mention you have no CO, you may be leaving yourself open to insurance fraud charges, especially if you later file a claim for damages from something like a fire.
At a minimum, you are inviting the insurance company to take your money now and deny claims later.
"They can't change the requirements at final and make you "upgrade".
Something else you might want to check into. On our build, our plans were submitted after being engineered back in '03. The septic permit/install was seperate and part of the lot prep. What is on the plans is what the county of our build goes by. In '07 some codes have changed, mostly concerning lighting/energy saving requirements. We had thought that our ligting plan was going to have to be "upgraded" to '07 requirements, but that's not the case since we have been permitted since '03.
Your evaporation pond/set-up was approved, they might not be able to change that.
Interesting feedback. I had to laugh at some of the responses. I know there are a lot of people that are ignorant, but no...this isn't an "illegal build", we haven't done anything wrong. We haven't even moved in yet. Certainly everything is "current", as it's just now finished. I just wondered what would happen if we didn't get the final inspection. You know, wait for the wind to blow a different direction with regards to the sewer.
The assessor's office has been coming out an taking pictures every month, so they're probably the ones that would create a stink.
"If you were issued a building permit to begin the process, then there should only be a formality about closing that building permit out with the final. Your home was approved to be build with your current septic. They can't change the requirements at final and make you "upgrade"."-Live_Wire_Oak
Thank you Live Wire Oak! That is exactly what I thought. Since the barn and sewer were approved (and inspected) 8 years ago, the house plan was approved, we were issued the building permit (which we posted), we had the proper inspections at the right time during this last year. And actually, when we got the building permit, they asked about the sewer, and we told them the system, which they didn't throw a fit about at the time. I am hoping there isn't a problem.
The Homeowner's insurance is already set--they were out a couple weeks ago for the final. BTW, they knew we didn't have a final inspection yet, as the up-stairs aren't even in!
Again, it's more of a "what if" question. I don't want to leave my children with a mess. I just wondered WHO would care.
And you couldn't live in the house without stairs, could you? They will expect a CO before you move in. Call them up and ask if the coverage is still good if you don't have a CO.
Sounds like you have nothing to worry about, since you were given a permit ("given" is a misnomer). Since the assessor has been stopping by, they will continue to stop by. If you move in and they find you living there w/o a CO, they *will* raise a stink about it and send the inspector out. They *may* evict/fine you until you do get the CO. Just get it over with, don't leave it hanging over your head.
Insurance should be waiting for your CO to change from builder's risk/fire policy to homeowners'.
Insurance companies have no clue when you get a CO. They rely on what you tell them. Don't lie to them, that makes you a fraud and the policy would then be cancelled.
Not all municipalities are so lenient as sierraeast 's
Last I checked here, there was a two-year time period from issuance of a building permit to the required start of construction. If you missed it, the permit had to be reviewed and renewed and revised to meet any new standards and regulations. Certainly enough red flags raised here by posters to advise caution before proceeding blithely ahead.
Only local authorities can give a definitive answer as to what applies in the OP's case.
"Not all municipalities are so lenient as sierraeast 's "
There is a catch! ( always seems to be the case). You are required to have an inspection within a years time. I would assume that the majority of builds dont crawl along at a snails pace like ours, and we are thankful for that leniency, because the slow go is working out for us and the only way we can go about it.
That's why I term to the op to "check into it" as well as the term "might".
I misread your post, Worthy. We started in '03 after the plans were submitted and approved. I dont know the requirements in out county for starting dates after the permitting process and the allocated time, but if you miss an inspection within a years time on a slow build, you are required to re-permit and like most all things these days, permit costs in our county have more than tripled!
From what I have seen regarding building permits, which is not definitive by any means, the lowest common denominator seems to be one year to complete with a second year getting an automatic extension. After that, it's a new ball game with the goal posts moved forward toward the latest code adoption.
As someone said, to paraphrase Tip O'Neil, all building permits are local.
From what I've seen, policies regarding the length of open building permits really varies according to location. We completed our retirement house a little over a year ago- after 4 long complicated years of building, and our contractor managed to keep our building permit open for the entire 4 years. In that county ( in southwest Florida), a building permit was good for six months, but it could be renewed either by scheduling and going through an inspection, or by paying the county for another six month extension. At the time, there was no limit on the length of time the permit was open ( I think they may have changed things and there is a one year limit now).
As long as the building permit was open, the building codes in effect when it was first issued applied to the building. If the permit was allowed to expire, the builder had to apply for a new one, resubmit the plans for approval one more time, and the codes in effect at this later time would apply.
I think it's pretty standard policy that any item approved by the county under an existing permit cannot be "unapproved" later on in the event of building code changes. So I'd imagine an evaporation pond approved under a previous permit is safe regardless of how much current inspectors might hate it or how environmentally "unfriendly" county bureaucrats might regard such a device, LOL. That is, hopefully, if there was a final inspection to "close out" the permit for that project.
The final inspection "closes out" the permit, ie, the inspector/county signing off that the work has been completed in a workmanship-like manner, meets current standards and codes, etc. Without that final inspection, the permit remains open, expires sooner or later, and the work done under this permit is considered uncompleted. THIS type of scenario is what subjects a homeowner to problems sooner or later, ie, fines, additional inspections and the possibility to being required to tear down the construction, and rebuild according to building codes in effect that the time the open permit is discovered.
This situation has occurred in our area where county building and zoning employees discovered that several townhouse and condo developments built after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 were built without the additional hurricane protection ( no hurricane straps on trusses, rebar reinforcement in the outside walls, attachment of tie beam to outside walls) required by more stringent building codes put into effect after 1992. Apparently these dwellings also had open permits that had never been completed, this was discovered about 10 years after the building was finished. The homeowners living in these places at the time this was discovered had no idea these problems existed, but they were still held responsible by the county to make the required fixes. Most of these folks didn't have the money to make these fixes, had their homeowners' insurance policies canceled, couldn't get new insurance and couldn't sell their homes either. The last I heard, they were suing the builder ( well known mass production builder I won't name), the owners at the time of said company ( a large theme park whose name I won't mention either), and maybe the county for not catching these deficiencies during the building process. The builder and theme park both disavowed responsibility for these problems, but I don't know what the outcome finally was.
I wouldn't skip a final inspection, and getting that CEO....