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Finish basement with no permitt

Posted by sn002 (My Page) on
Thu, May 18, 06 at 11:52

I am thinking to finish the basement by myself without getting a permitt so I don't have to go through all the inspections and paying all the extra fees. Most importantly I can work at my own pace. Is it wise to do that? Can someone give me pros and cons. Thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Just make sure you know the building code and do everything according to it--most cities follow the universal building code. Some will argue that inspections are for your protection. Others will say that permits are only a vehicle for further taxation. In the end, it's your call. When I was thinking about finishing my basement, I asked around at work and among friends for what they did in regards to permits. I could not find a single person who got city permits! Most contracted the work out too. I will always wonder if contractors will follow the building code strictly knowing that the homeowner did not ask to pull city permits. Seeing that you are doing the work yourself, that is not an issue however.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

If we were just refinishing the basement, I would not apply for a permit. I see no difference in finishing a basement then redecorating with new carpet, light fixtures, wall and window treatments. Now if you are adding a bathroom, then I would suggest getting a permit. All you need is 1 nosy neighbor to see the plumbing fixtures being unloaded.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I, too, found that very few of the people I spoke with bothered with permits, and the permit office in my area was difficult to reach and 90% of their processes dealt directly with updating your tax records.

If you have trouble sleeping at night then get the permits. If you are worried about code compliance and safety issues, get an independent inspector to review your work. The local jurisdiction building inspectors usually don't have the resources to be thorough. After all, my NEW home had several code violations that the inspectors missed.

Bill


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

We will get CO for the work upstairs then proceed to finish basement

Yes we will violate code - 1 area anyway which is the reason for NOT getting permit - steam pipes hang down from ceiling - at about 6' this would never pass

NOr do I want the expense of redoing all the steam pipes for a finish on one side -

so you may want to have someone up to speed on code to see if you would pass or need some major renovation
egress is an issue - and should be due to fire
headroom
plumbing

good luck


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I just finished mine. Do it to code as much as possible, but don't pull a permit.

The inspectors in my area missed so many damn code violations on my house when it was built a year ago that I'll be damned if I'm going to pay the city to come out and give me a hard time about insignificant crap just to increase my taxes when my freaking house isn't built to code in the first place. Maybe the builder paid them off. Who knows but screw them.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

My DH gets transferred every few years and here is a few things we have learned. If we did not get a building permit for any work done, and he gets transferred, then if we are unable to sell our home, his company will not buy it because of the lack of a building permit and proper inspections. This is for basements, decks, you name it. Something else I have heard is that if you didn't get a permit for it, then you are not allowed to include the finished square footage when selling. So all that possible extra equity is gone. We are currently finishing 1500 sq ft in our basement. The permits - building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical were less than $200.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

legardhome - have you ever had a problem selling your home due to this reason?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"if you didn't get a permit for it, then you are not allowed to include the finished square footage when selling"

I don't know about where you live but in IL the basement is never included in the sq footage of a home. There may be a mention of a finished basement but the square footage of a basement can not be included in the square footage of a home which is only the main and upper levels.

Furthermore a real estate agent would never know if something had a permit or not and they are the ones that measure the home and write up the Listing. Our current home has an 850 sq ft addition, which was included in the sq ft total, and a 3 car garage and we just found out that the addition nor the garage had a permit. Also built in 1980 was a huge 11 stall with full mow 82'by42' barn and again no permit and again since this is horse country was a major highlight in the multiple listing. If the addition, garage and outbuildings had not been allowed to be included in the price we would have paid abt 50% less for our home.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

You can include anything that is in the home when selling, permit or not. After all, the county does not write the listing, your agent does. If the buyer says anything, just point out their tax savings.

When we sold my parent's house a couple of years ago, it was listed in the county records as a three bedroom. It was built as a in 1948 as a 4 BR, and that's how it was sold. I think the original plans were 3 BR, then my Mom had the plans reconfigured to add an extra BR at the time of construction. We had no problem whatsoever with the sale.

I would not get permits for finishing a basement. An addition, maybe. The only thing we've pulled a permit for at our current home is a storage bldg, and that's only because it's kind of hard to hide. Even then, my next door neighbor told us we were crazy for getting a permit.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Did you ever notice that while there are plenty of stories about folks discovering shoddy work "after the fact", it's mainly theoretical "what if's" that convince folks "on the fence" to get permits?

I would like to see more actual problems that reflcet reality, if they exist, for those that did not get permits and later got burned, busted, fined, or whatever. Those stories are hard to find, even on the web. Why is that? Sure, if the work fails or there is a tragedy, then you certainly hear, but as for suffering because you couldn't list your house to get fair value, or insurance claim denied because of non-code work done by homeowner, I never hear actual examples.

Also, aside from endangering yourself or others with improper work, etc. is a main concern that you might get hit with a "stop work" posting to put the job into limbo?

BTW, what typically happens to an unlicensed contractor, such as a handyman, if they get caught doing unlicensed work? "Not much?" "Heavy fines?" "Fine and small delay?" And who would then has to pull a permit, let's say for small plumbing or electrical job? Does the local government force an owner to shift gears and find a licensed tradesman to complete the job? What's the deal, really?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

The lack of a permit did not stop me from mentioning a finished basement in my listing to sell....and it did not make all the drywall and carpet vanish when people came to view the house. Just how is it that I "won't get to realize the equity when I am selling"?

I disclosed to my buyer that the work was done without a permit or licensed contractors and told him I would gladly pay the $350 for a permit if he wanted me to and he could pay an extra $400 or so in extra taxes every year for as long as he owns the house since my city generally adds $30/square foot to assesments for finished basements when you get the permit. Guess what he answered.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"Something else I have heard is that if you didn't get a permit for it, then you are not allowed to include the finished square footage when selling. So all that possible extra equity is gone."

True and False.

You're not allowed to include it in the square footage for the listing, but then again, you never are allowed to do that EXCEPT if you have a walkout basement - at least in my state that's the case.

To get around this, when you sell the house you list it as the normal upstairs square footage and then say "additional XXXX sq ft of living space in finished basement". This is perfectly legal and practiced regularly.

I've bought and sold 4 houses in my life, all of which had finished basements ... none of them had a permit (to my knowledge), and nobody cares. This whole thing about "you're screwed when you sell" really doesn't have much merit from my experiences.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

dominogold & others-

Is there any data supporting a house with a permited finished basement selling more over a comparable one but w/o a permited finished basement?

Also, doesn't the county "re-assess" the non-permit work after a sale when recording the deed?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I cannot believe the number of people advocating breaking the law. Our town requires a permit if something involves new plumbing or new electrical (not repair) or if the market value of the work being done exceeds $2000. Redecorating (paint, wallpaper, carpet) does not require a permit and neither do "repairs" (new roof, exterior painting, etc.).

Just because most people don't get caught and the consequences are few does not mean it isn't cheating.

Legally speaking, if you do work without a permit you need to put that on the disclosure form if you sell.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

There's another aspect that I don't think has been mentioned about permits. Along with the permits go inspections by the AHJ saying that construction meets code. Not too long ago in another forum a member apparently did some of his own electrical work (and the work was done correctly). Not a big deal until he went to sell the home. A less than qualified home inspector shows up and says the wiring doesn't meet code. Now the homeowner has to pony up some bucks to hire an electrician to inspect the wiring. If the work had been permitted and inspected he would have had those records.

Just one more thing to consider in a complex subject.

Mike


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I seriously think everyone is overreacting.

I've bought and sold 4 homes personally. All had finished basements. Whether or not a permit was pulled for the basement was never even a discussion as nobody cared as long as there was nothing obviously wrong.

Further, my mother is a realtor. She sells homes every day, and she can't think of once instance where having a finished basement without a permit has been a "showstopper" to selling a home.

So, that's the facts from my angle of the world. Combine that with the fact that the inspectors missed dozens of code voilations when I had my house built, there is absolutely no reason to pull a permit except to (a) raise taxes, and (b) pay more money in fees and get a hard time from your city.

I do recommend building to code. Hire good people and stay on top of it but skip the permit.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I went to my permit office and a permit was required only for adding additonal sq footage to the home. No permit required to finish the basement only. Each county is probably different.

If your home burns down due to electrical fire, finished the basement with no prermit, and they figure that out some how???


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Interesting thread, it's also interesting that it seems like code requirements and enforcement vary pretty wildly from location to location.

I've been finishing off our basement slowly since we moved in, one part at a time, as my schedule/budget allows. It was an unfinished, poured concrete, insulated space when we moved in. I have some simple electrical work done(outlets/receesed lights) and a few walls framed, drywalled, and painted. I also framed and drywalled around the duct work.

My plans weren't too elaborate, and I knew I'd be working at a snails pace so I decided not to pull any permits. However a friend who lives in the same township as I do(Gloucester Township, NJ) is currently going through a big mess trying to sell their house because they did not pull any permits when they did their basement 3 years ago.

Our township recently implemented a new CO inspection for any residence being sold and this required my friend and her husband to have the unpermitted basement inspected by the township prior to the sale.

It appeared to go well with the plumbing and electrical inspectors. There were some corrections to be made, but they were relatively minor. The electrical inspector did nearly have her husband open a wall, but that was avoided. Their luck ran out with the building inspector and they are now faced with the prospect of tearing out all the walls because her husband built his walls directly on the concrete walls but did not use pressure treated wood.

Something to think about! :-O


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I, too, wonder about work done without permits and whether it ever matters when selling (or buying). We've done both this year as well as had a ceiling installed in the basement of the new house. At no time has anyone asked if a permit was pulled for work. The homeowner's disclosure asks if any structural changes were made without a permit..."to our knowledge". How would we know? I don't see how either of the basement bathrooms could have been done with a permit since neither basement was up to code because of either height, lack of egress, too few windows or some other issue.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

The reason I and many others do not get a permit is because in my area a permit triggers a reasessment for taxes. I looked at a few examples and the typical guy paying a few hundred to permit his finished basement gets hit with a $15,000 increase in assessment value. If a person doing this doesn't know something as basic....really basic... as using PT lumber against concrete, he shouldn't be doing it himself.

I just sold and disclosed on the form it was done without permit and/or licensed contractors. No big deal.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I wonder if an insurance company would pay if someones house burned down from faulty wiring in a finished basement that wasn't inspected? I myself didn't get a permit to finish (over a four year period) my basement, but I tried to stick to code as much as possible


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Regarding the person so upset that we would break the law, in my county if you build anything that is 12x12 (a horse run in shed) you need a permit. My three sided shelter with a roof is very well built. I would need a permit of $2000 to $2500 to build this shed of less than $1000 in other costs. Would you add a couple thousand on top of that? My county is notorious for their tight and nonsensical demands. Come here and remodel or make a shed and then write about how high and mighty you are.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"I wonder if an insurance company would pay if someones house burned down from faulty wiring in a finished basement that wasn't inspected?"

You are insured against your own mistakes.
The inspections by an insurance company after a fire are to try and hang the bill on someone with insurance, like a licensed electrician, or a plumber.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Just noticed this:
I don't know about where you live but in IL the basement is never included in the sq footage of a home. There may be a mention of a finished basement but the square footage of a basement can not be included in the square footage of a home which is only the main and upper levels.

I live in IL and you've lost me on this one. First, no home we saw in two years ever had a sq ft in the MLS listing. It simply isn't done. I come from another region where homes are sold by the sq ft, so I found this really peculiar to begin with.

Secondly, and more importantly, many MANY homes listed the square footage of the basment in the listing description. As in "over 6000sq ft of living space." This includes the basement. Or "5000 sq ft darling." Also included the finished basement.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I just dished out $395 for a permit, while it was painful, I only did it because it was the law. It will undoubtly increase my taxes. I also know I will do a better job constructing it, since an inspector is looking at it. I'm also trying to avoid any future problems. I would agree most probably don't have a problem now selling a house with unpermited work. But I do believe you lose some prospectus buyers. I know I'd have an unfavorable opinion of you if I was looking at your house and saw it on the disclosure (or worse yet not disclosed, but suspected). It tells me your either, ignorant of the law, a cheap Bas$#@d, or a tax cheat. Is this really the person I want to buy a house from? If I really liked the house, I may still make a discounted offer. But first impressions are lasting impressions, just like if you show your house dirty. I'd be less worried about this if I had a cheaper house, but when dealing with $200K+ houses, I expect the owner to afford a $400 permit and a couple hundred a year in taxes.

I also have faith the local jursidictions will get better at closing this loophole. All it would take is a simple law to make this happen in your jursidiction, such as, you cant sell a property with unpermitted work. This is already starting to occur on the coasts. They could even throw in fines and back taxes. Don't under estimate the power of local govts to find ways to increase tax revenues without increasing taxes.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I looked over my contract paperwork from when my house was built a year and a half ago.

We did sign a document that says the following ... "If the basement is finished into habitable space without a suitable fire escape (egress window or walkout) this must be disclosed at the time of selling". It does not mention anything about being "required" to pull a permit and disclosing this information -- only if there is not an egress window.

In our case we do have an egress window already, so I technically did not break any laws by not pulling a permit based on what I signed in our paperwork. Saved myself tons of headaches from the incompetent inspectors and thousands in tax reassessments.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

So, Chris, I guess you're willing to overlook my blatant disregard for the law if you can save a buck? Is that really the kind of person I want to sell my house to?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I wouldn't be overlooking your disregard for the law, I'd be taking responsibility for it. I am not naive enough to think this couldn't come back to haunt me. I would probably check with code enforcement beforehand to see what would need to be done to make it legal. In some jursidictions, this alone would bring code enforcement to your house. I'd be saving a lot of money if: there is a nightmare behind the drywall, the local jurisdiction passes more stringent laws on unpermitted work, my insurance co decides to no longer insure homes with unpermitted work. I've already seen cases where the previous owners unpermitted work costs the current owner. One case, the new owners had to tear down an unpermitted deck. In a second case, the previous owners got a permit for an addition, but skipped the inspections. The new owners had to open up the walls for the inspection. This means any transaction involving unpermitted work should include a risk premium.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

If you sold your house and a fire was caused by something you did in the basement (even though you believe you followed all the codes and performed the work correctly), couldn't you be sued for damages? Would getting a permit protect you? Or as long as you disclosed the fact that you finished the basement without permits, does that protect? Just wondering?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I just reviewed the disclosure form for the state of Illinois and it does not ask you if any work has been done unpermitted. Just if you are aware of dangerous conditions. I have never heard of a city inspector showing up at your home when it is listed for sale.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ill Disclosure Form


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Thought I'd add my 2 cents:

1) Most people finish their basements without a permit to avoid the increase in their taxes.

2) A finished basement will almost always add value to a house, though you cannot expect a dollar for dollar return on your investment (depending on your area and how hot the real estate market is).

3) Therefore, it is safe to assume that people who finish their basements without pulling permits are contributing to higher tax assessments.

Here in Ontario, Canada, property assessments are based on the selling prices of similar homes.

Consider this simplistic example (not taking into account any overall increases in property values): Two identical houses stand side by side. The original assessment on each one is, say, $250,000. The owner of the first house finishes his basement without pulling any permits. He is able to sell his house for $265,000 (it's a nice basement...probably cost him $25,000). So when the assessments are updated, that style of house with that square footage is now assessed at $265,000.

What happens to the poor neighbour in the house next door who did not finish his basemnent? His house is assessed at $265,000, even though his actual resale value is still $250,000. And what happens to him if he pulls a permits for a $25,000 basement? His assessment goes from $265,000 to $290,000..... And his house is still only "worth" $265,000, based on what the buyer paid for the house next door with the finished basement.

When people bypass the permit process and avoid the increased tax assessments, honest people are penalized. The problem is that there is no way to make the system "fair."

Another example to consider: The buyer who paid $265,000 for the first house with the finished basement comes to discover that the work was not done up to code (bad wiring, for example) and has to rip out some walls and redo the work. Not only is he faced with the expense of the repairs, but also with the increased assessment if he pulls the permits to do the job. How fair is that?

Just trying to make a complex issue more complex!

Bottom line: whether you pull the permits or not, make sure you adhere to the applicable codes (building, electrical, plumbing). And if there is a neighbour you don't particularly trust, unload the plumbing fixtures after dark!

Here is a link that might be useful: Thumb & Hammer


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"You are insured against your own mistakes.
The inspections by an insurance company after a fire are to try and hang the bill on someone with insurance, like a licensed electrician, or a plumber"

Perhaps so. However, one is not insured against willingly violating the law.

That said, in our town, 2 different homes did indeed have a fire, and the insurance company did NOT pay...as the cause was determined to be problems with wiring...in finished basements....no permits.

Now, they have a new ordinance; the home is inspected by the towns code guy prior to issuing a new CO...any un-permitted work must be brought into compliance. No news yet as to whether or not they will require tear outs..some NJ towns do just that (Carteret is one).
In addition, for those who are convinced they are saving on taxes, you might want to make sure that your town won't charge you back taxes...and fines...for any work that has been done without permits.

It is pointless is to assume that any info that one reads on the 'net applies to your town....EVERY town is different.

Last but not least, the advice to "make sure you do the work to code" is rather absurd, in that most folks don't KNOW the code for their town...and again, it varies from place to place....and, it is often subject to interpretation. Case in point; NYC has their OWN code, different form NYS..which goes by BOCA.

Last but not least re: selling...HI's do not inspect for code violations...but if they see a hazard they are obligated to inform both buyer and seller.

In addition, most HI's will advise the buyer to check to see if any work that appears to have been done after the original construction was done in accordance with town regs...in order to not be on the hook later on down the line if there is a problem. If the HI does not spot it, very likely the appraiser will..as the original CO on the house does not reflect a finished basement. The lender will then most likely require permits.

As time goes by, it is becoming more and more difficult to sell a home with non-permitted work....without first taking the steps required by the town to bring it into compliance.

Bottom line is, research the issue in your town very thoroughly...AND with your insurance company, before you decide if it is worth the possible risks....or not.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

you really need to read the permit codes very carefully.
sometimes they just won't even issue you a permit in my town.

electrical and plumbing changes must exceed $200.00 in supplies to need to generate a permit for a DIYer. the fixtures don't count-- like changing a ceiling light to fan
you don't need to even think of a permit-- even if it is a
high-end fan that runs $250.-- moving the junction box to mount the fan would have to cost $200 in supplies.

when i moved into my 1923 house it still had tube and bobbin wiring. what a shocker. city wasn't concered at all during the inspection. i hired an electrician to rewire the house, but the city told me to pull the wires myself, mount all the new outlets and switches and have the electrician wire it all into a new circuit breaker box
only. City electrical would then connect my new circuit box
to the city electrical (they always do this) as a service upgrade (i went from 100 amp service to 200 amp service)
for $50. and no permit was needed. the clerk said, "that's the way everyone does it, otherwise it's $450. for the permit." since i only needed to do 2 rooms and the attic, my brother-in-law gave me a hand with it all (he's an electrician)one weekend and then i called the city.

if you aren't changing any plumbing runs, the city doesn't
really care what you do with h2o. if you are adding new supply lines or waste lines within walls they want it inspected so you need a permit. if you repair an existing line no inspection. both my kitchen and bathroom have 3 sets of supply and waste lines-- you just need to open the wall and uncap the one you want to use.

since out attic has a laid floor (tongue/groove pine) it is considered finished space-- so we can add HVAC, insulation, electrical, and drywall with no permit. adding a skylight which doesn't change the roof line(cut a rafter)would be allowed as well--- but not a dormer. If our attic had only plywood flooring it would be unfinished and require a permit for all of it.

in the basement, we'd need an egress window to make it living space with a bedroom, but just to make it a 'den' or rec room wouldn't call for a permit at all.

most irritating is that if i want to add a 3 season porch
to the back of my house i need to put in a full foundation wall to 54 inches and a crawl space.-- slab construction not permited-- with interior and exterior access to the crawl space. same holds true on my existing front porch if i want to enclose with glass or rebuild the roof of the porch. No pier and beam construction is allowed in the city--- which of course is the type of building the city does often for park district, sanitation and street departments.

oh the insanity!!!
diggerb


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

for the examples of the house reassessments above, you're saying that the house next door with no finished basement is going to get reassessed at same rate as neighbor's who finished his basement? And then get hit again if they do decide to finish their basement?

Why would guy with no finished basement pay same tax reassessment as guy with finished basement? i thought they reassessed based on properties in the area with similar offerings (finished basements, number of bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.)


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Questions about permit for basement work

--I've heard a lot of people say they just plan to say that the "improvements where there when they bought the house". I don't know how this works so well since the county records would show what was there and what wasn't. Does anyone know people who've used this approach?

--Does having the basement work permitted help protect against liability if someone were to get hurt on my property due to some faulty work? either way, I would think it would involve suing the people who did the work--permit or not.

--Most people I know around me do not get permits for the work they did on their basements, however, I'm inclined to do one to be "safe" as I may need to add an egress window later if we want to do an official bedroom. Right now an egress is not required for livable space in my area unless there's a bedroom. If this changes and and the area I'm in updates to 2006 codes, the egress window would be required even for livable space. How much does having the permit "grandfather" me in for future improvements?

--My insurance company said just to have pics of the belongings down there but that they don't require permit to cover losses. However, not sure that I could trust that for future as it seems insurance companies are expert at finding ways not to pay, especially being financially strapped as they are now after Katrina, etc. Has anyone heard insurance nightmare stories for unpermitted work? I guess you couldn't use the mantra of "it's always been there" if you hope to collect after a fire for losses


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"Has anyone heard insurance nightmare stories for unpermitted work? I guess you couldn't use the mantra of "it's always been there" if you hope to collect after a fire for losses"

In our township it happened with two homes; illegally finished basements, fire due to wiring issues; insurance did not cover. As far as finished basements go, hard to claim its "always been there", since a finished basement would show on the CO if it was original to the house...and, if one buys a home with a finished basement, but does not ask for the documentation that it was finished in accordance with the town regs, one also buys any and all problems that may present...

As with many things, its a gamble that one takes..and hopes to win. It is up to each individual to determine if it is worth the risk....but such a decision should be based upon actual facts pertaining to where one lives, and ones own insurance coverage....not upon what may or may not be the case for someone else.


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reply

Thanks for the reply, logic.

when you say it's hard to claim "it's always been there" do you mean for insurance or for inspectors? I don't think the inspectors bring the original information along with them but anything's possible, I guess.

my insurance co. said they don't require proof of permit--just proof of what was down there (furniture, TV, etc.) but I guess I'm concerned that could change


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"...when you say it's hard to claim "it's always been there" do you mean for insurance or for inspectors? I don't think the inspectors bring the original information along with them but anything's possible, I guess...."

Any entity that wishes to see if indeed the basement was always there need only to look at the Certificate of Occupancy. Generally, if a house is built with the basement finished as living space, it is indicated as such...and even if it was, once the buyer becomes the owner, the problems (if any) become theirs as well....so even if it was there when they bought it, the point become moot...

In the event of a problem (fire, etc.) with a non-permitted basement, the town code official would know that permits and finals were never issued, and they would require that you follow whatever procedures they have in place to make it "legal". With some towns, its merely paying a fee a filing paper work..other towns may fine you...other towns may charge back taxes...and, still others could require a tear out to make sure the work was done to code.

If you sell, the Appraiser will note the finished basement; the lender will see its not on the CO...chances are they will ask you to get permits at that point.

Also, the buyers home inspector may also mention it to the buyer...especially if he sees something that does not appear to have been done properly. Although HI's don't inspect for code, they do inspect for safety hazards and other visible issues.

Last but not least,in areas that do require permits, most attorney's advise the buyers to make sure that permits and finals have been obtained for any improvement.

Bottom line in areas that do require permits, it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell improved property without proving that it was done legally.

In additon, there is always the question of the insurance issue...regardless of what they may say now.

And, a good point is that in the event of someone getting hurt due to faulty work..well, even if your insurance covers you, IMO, in todays litigious society, you could be sued for negligence...IMO which would be a slam dunk to prove, as it is a deliberate act on the part of an owner to circumvent the law.

IMO, better safe than sorry...


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Thanks for the reply, logic.

Why would a lender see an original certificat of occupancy? Maybe i misunderstood what you're saying.

Seems there are a lot of reasons to do it, but everyone I know around me does not. I prefer to be safe than sorry so I'll likely do it, even though I'm concerned with having these people in my house b/c they'll see the updated kitchen, but it just seems to be one of those laws that people can follow or just feign ignorance of if they choose to ignore it. I guess ignorance of law would still be grounds for negligence lawsuit. Interestingly, an attorney I know didn't pull permits on his own basement project.

It just seems that by following the rules, I pay more in costs for licensed people, pay more in assessments and of course for the permit itself. While I watch my neighbors do the same thing without the paperwork. I'm mostly concerned with the assessments going up. As given in the example above by someone from Canada, it seems these assessment can be way out of whack: a house "from $265,000 to $290,000..... And his house is still only "worth" $265,000"


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"Why would a lender see an original certificat of occupancy? Maybe i misunderstood what you're saying."

Well...I can't speak for all lenders, however, most do see the CO. After all, how would they otherwise know if the house ever received final approvals and a CO when first constructed?

Lenders want to protect their interests....so, chances are all see the CO. Now...depending upon how sharp the employee, I would imagine that some don't notice discrepencies between what the CO relfects and the appraisal. However, is like anything else....you can take always take a chance, and hope for the best.

And, I do understand the frustration of doing the right (more expensive)thing while those around you do the wrong thing...seemingly with impunity. Its unfortunately the story of our society.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Besides being a real estate broker for 17 years (no longer)I've bought, renovated and sold several dozen homes over the years.

With the rare exception, homeowner finished basements I've seen were disasters. Dangerous wiring. Mould. Structural mistakes--taking out support posts to enlarge basement rooms. Unvented plumbing. Undermined foundations to give greater headroom. My favourite: an unprotected lightbulb in a drywall shower. (My first home.) Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Of course, this doesn't apply to anyone posting here.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Oh man, this is the same dilemma I am going thru right now. I started picking away at mine in 2002 when I bought my house new. My electrical and plumbing are complete, and my framing just has a few little things to finish before the drywall. Now, before I take the plunge and put the drywall up, I am leaning towards getting the permits.

I think this will benefit me down the road because I will be able to say with confidence to the home inspector, appraiser, and realtor that permits were pulled, work was inspected, and everything approved when I go to sell. I remember a few years ago getting my home appraised for a home equity loan, and the appraisers told me that nothing in my basement can count towards your home's value if it is not approved by city hall. Even with the added tax burden, it still seems like a waste when you think about how much money you are putting down there.

I personally know 3 friends that did not pull permits when they finished their basement. And, since my city's permits are only good for 1 year (after that you have to reapply and pay the same fees again!) I didn't want the hassle. But now I think I have the opportunity to make things right before the drywall is up. After all, isn't that what the city wants anyway? And I figure after all the fees and penalties I'll still be ahead since I didn't have to re-apply for the permit for 4 years in a row.

Good Luck!


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

At what point does the unfinished basement become finished in the eyes of the city/county for assessment purposes? It is my understanding that to be considered finished and counted towards yearly taxes (at least in South Carolina), the space has to be heated/cooled. Unheated spaces are not considered in the square footage when calculating taxes.

That being said, I'd like to add a few outlets, frame a couple of walls and insulate the exterior walls in preparation for finisheing the basement sometime in the distant future (all according to local building codes). I don't want to add plumbing fixtures or drywall at this time, and the space won't be heated/cooled. (Just dehumidified).

I'm assuming my best route would be to get permints for the electrical part, and make sure the space is still considered unfinished for tax purposes.

This way I can enjoy the space with peace of mind(pingpong, weight equipment, etc...) without paying extra taxes on it.

Is this logical?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Depends upon what your town considers "finished". Our town does not care if you heat or cool; we have electric baseboard installed, drywall, paint, carpet, moldings, etc...BUT we still have not finished our ceiling...due to indecision regarding style...and then being very short of time...but, it is considered finished none the less...and we are taxed accordingly. Neighbors are finished with walls, ceiling, carpet...but no heat...they are considered "finished" as well..and taxed accordingly.

Every town or city is different....the only way to know for sure what is considered "finished" in your town is to ask your local tax assessor.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

In New Jersey it really means nothing. The only problem is when you sell a zealous home inspector can make a issue with your buyers that this wrong and that is wrong and they did not get an inspection which can scare away buyers.
Someone suggested to me that if there is a fire in your home and its determined to have originated due to improper installation, your insurance company could give you a problem.but then again if my Christmas tree causes a fire, no one inspected that??? Food for thought.


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HVAC heat loss/gain calculation

We have a general permit but need to move some HVAC work and add a return and city hall tells us we need to do a heat gain/loss calculation. Can anyone advise on how that's done? It seems some specail software is required? how can city hall require the lay person to know how to do this?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Interesting discussion.

We've recently done some renovations and we didn't get any permits. This was not my preference. Our first contractor basically ditched us when we said we didn't want to go forward without a permit. We found another contractor who has built houses his entire life (he's 67). His English skills are poor. He did most of the work himself and hired an electrician and a plumber for some of the other work.

The funny thing is that he fixed a lot of existing problems in the house ...of course, none of it was found in the home inspection when we bought the home.

I'd be more than happy to pay the fees and have the inspections after the fact. I'm struck, though, by the number of contractors (highly recommended by friends) who are so cynical about the system. They'll admit it's good for do it yourselfers who aren't sure they're doing things correctly, and they understand why the system exists. Ultimately, many see it as a bureaucratic moneygrab.

I believe the permit is the homeowner's responsibility, but if contractors aren't on board, it makes it tough. The market is so hot right now. So many contractors aren't even taking work on, especially the smaller jobs.

Ultimately, though, I wish we'd gotten permits. :-( I'm not sure if we can do this after the fact.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

yankees1: "In New Jersey it really means nothing. The only problem is when you sell a zealous home inspector can make a issue with your buyers that this wrong and that is wrong and they did not get an inspection which can scare away buyers.
Someone suggested to me that if there is a fire in your home and its determined to have originated due to improper installation, your insurance company could give you a problem.but then again if my Christmas tree causes a fire, no one inspected that??? Food for thought."

Hardly. Such a statement is at best an over generalization, not based upon fact. I live in central NJ....and, there were two fires in our township...finished basements...no permits...origin electrical...and their insurance did not cover the damage.

That said, our town also recently passed an ordinance...in order for the title to change hands, and the new C of O to be issued, the seller must obtain a construction clearance permit...meaning all work must be permitted and approved.

Last but not least, some towns will actually require tear out of non-permitted work...Carteret is one.

As far as the home inspection is concerned, in NJ HI's are REQUIRED BY LAW to report any hazardous condition. Since many DIY jobs with no permit often result in hazardous conditions, those are the instances where the HI is most apt to both see and therefore report problems. Therefore, the HI is not the one scaring away the buyerit is the negligent seller/owner.

Now that is some real "food for thought" in that the seller needs to take responsibility for their own actionsor inaction as the case may be, and realize that shooting the messenger does not change the reality.

Also, basements are notorious for being finished DIY, no permits. That said, again for safety reasons, the HI will caution the buyer to determine if the work was performed legally...as will the buyers attorney....otherwise, there is no way to tell if the work was performed in accordance with code. Why would any buyer want to purchase a home where it is unknown if the the seller made errors with the remodel...when it could serve to prove disastrous later on down the line?

Now..for the Christmas Trees...it is not illegal to have a live Christmas tree in ones' home...but, in most places, it IS illegal to perform remodeling and/or renovations without permits and final approvals. It's apples to oranges.

Enough said.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

This was a topic of conversation with some of my friends who also are remodeling or finishing their basements recently. They thought I was 'stuipid' for 'wasting my money' and 'feeding to the city hall' and 'tax depatement.' Then I told them to think about it this way-
Imagine there are 2 homes, side by side, identical in every way, but the only difference is that one house has a finished basement with NO permit, and the other house has a finished basement WITH a permit. Which house could a) the seller command more money for, and b) a typical buyer would buy first knowing which one was inspected by the city? 'Well, when you put it THAT way...'


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

In our town prior to selling we have to get a CO. The process when we sold our house was to get the local township inspector to come in and he looked at all the things we did to our house and pulled all of our permits to make sure we had a permit on all of the improvements we did to our house. Believe it or not we had a permit for the pool, fence, and finished basement. We never got a permit for the lawn sprinkler (did not know we needed it) - he failed us for getting a CO we had to apply for a permit and then have an inspection we passed it and we got the CO.

A neighbor who did not get any permits for their finished basement did not get a CO when they were selling and had to bring everything up to code (they finished there basement 20 years ago so had to bring up to CURRENT standards). After spending a lot of money they finally got their CO.

GET PERMITSSO YOU DON'T HAVE APROBLEM DOWN THE ROAD!


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I'm closing on my first house now and I plan on finishing the basement into a living room, bedroom and bathroom. I plan on doing nearly all of the work myself.

The house is in Saratoga Springs, NY and I just talked to the building inspector and he said that I would need a permit(which I expected). Also, he said I would need an architect's drawings in order to get the permit(which I did NOT expect)

Of those of you who have finished your basements AND GOT PERMITS, did you need drawings to get the permits??


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I've bought literally dozens of homes over the years. It's my business. I can't think of a single one with a so-called finished basement that wasn't amateurish, illegal and unsafe. But boy they saved lots of bucks on doing it themselves, no permits or inspectors needed. I demolished the "improvements" and started over, with inspections and permits as required. Silly me.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

""You are insured against your own mistakes.
The inspections by an insurance company after a fire are to try and hang the bill on someone with insurance, like a licensed electrician, or a plumber"

Perhaps so. However, one is not insured against willingly violating the law.

That said, in our town, 2 different homes did indeed have a fire, and the insurance company did NOT pay...as the cause was determined to be problems with wiring...in finished basements....no permits."

I call BS.
Every homeowners policy insures you against your own mistakes.
If I set up my arc welder in the basement and manage to burn down the house in an accident, it is covered.

The coverage is not for violating the law.
If the AHJ comes after you it is your problem.

I stopped digging into these tales after about a dozen turned out to be wrong.

As for a CO, in many paces they are issued whewn the house was built (if it is even new enough for that) and never checked again.

The house I live in was built in 1930, before Fairfax County, Virginia even issued COs.

A few places like to revoke COs on sale so they get another crack at inspecting and raising taxes, and that is all it is.

Many of my rental properties date from the 1950s, before the bureaucrats had decided a CO was another way to extract money.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

So you or your unlicensed "renovator" undermine the footings when lowering the basement, remove supporting walls, wire without regard to Code, plumb without proper traps and vents. Then the house collapses, burns to the ground or sickens everyone with sewer gases and the insurance covers it all. What a relief!

In reality, no coverage.

And when you try suing your "renovator", the Court dismisses your claim since you have not come to the Court with clean hands as your purpose in hiring him was to avoid paying taxes and permit fees.

Reminds me of an episode of Cops where a raggedy nee'r-do-well flags down a copper to file a complaint that the drugs she just bought are fake.

________________
timmybets

Every municipality sets its own rules. But I'd be surprised if they didn't allow you to submit a simple to-scale drawing of your own.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

You are still insured for your own mistakes.

If you cut a hole for a new door in your foundation wall and part of the house collapses the insurance is going to pay.

If you can convince them the collapse was an accident and not done on purpose) they will pay.

It is nothing like complaining about drugs to the police.
Your are confusing criminal matters with civil contract matters (the insurance contract you have on the house).


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

The "clean hands" rule is first year law. And indeed Courts have ruled that you have no case against an incompetent contractor if your purpose in hiring him was to avoid taxes.

Insurance coverage varies tremendously policy to policy. Some policies are very comprehensive. Some very limited in specifying coverages.

Intent is part of the criminal law. Just because you didn't mean to collapse your home, but built without permits or engineering direction, doesn't mean the insurance company will cut you a fat cheque.

But don't listen to me. Or any other unknown proclaimed "expert" on a chat site. Read your policy. Call your insurance broker and ask him what's covered.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

The problem is taxation based on property value.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Just curious.....when we built our house 10 yrs ago, we had the basement walls studded (into 3 rooms plus bath), we had it wired, and the bath was plumbed. That was part of the original "build" permit. We didn't finish it until 2 yrs ago--had the drywall professionally installed, painted, carpet laid, and toilet and sink installed. We didn't even think of a permit since this seemed "cosmetic" to us because the "bones" were already there. It looks original to the rest of the house because of certain features that were carried over from the upper level (and arched entry w/ columns into one room that matched the same design upstairs). The only DIY was the painting. When we go to sell the house, are we in trouble for not having a permit?

Thanks,
Tab


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"And indeed Courts have ruled that you have no case against an incompetent contractor if your purpose in hiring him was to avoid taxes."

Apples and oranges.

The issue would be if you hired a contractor and then told them (or allowed them) to not pull permits.

Insurance companies are always looking for someone else to pay the bill, so an unlicensed contractor would be a perfect scapegoat.

That is the reason for insurance investigations after fires or other claims.
They really want to find someone to stick with the bill.

Is still not the same as YOU doing work on YOUR house.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

personally, i would take the risk... you can always make good later


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I have done two basements w/o getting a permit. On one of them the lack of a permit was discovered by the buyer and became an issue that almost killed the deal. I eventually got my permit and closed on the house, but what I lost in attorney fees, time and agravation was significant. On the second house, neither the buyer nor the building inspector cared.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Insurance companies are always looking for someone else to pay the bill, so an unlicensed contractor would be a perfect scapegoat.

Indeed. The obvious question is if said unlicensed contractor has insurance (or assets) to go after. Around here the three requirements for contractor "licensing" is insurance, a performance bond, and paying a fee to the municipality.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

brickeyee,
Would you mind naming your insurance company? If you're right, I'm switching my policies to that company. Unfortunately, I believe Worthy is correct. I work for a large, well known, insurance company. I agree that if anything happens to damage your home, or cause injury to someone on your property, that could have POTENTIALLY been caused by unpermitted work, you're on your own. I would add one other thing, if you plan to call your insurance company about what your policy covers or not, try to speak to a claims representative instead of your agent.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Where I live they are permit happy. To replace a water heater I have to have a permit they want to make the home improvement stores sell the permit with the water heater. In my case if I ever have to replace the water heater and pull a permit I will have to move a wall and plumbing in order to do it because I have to bring the install up to current codes which require the water heater to be straped in. There is no room for the straps in it's current location at least none of the straps I have seen wont work. Of course there is also no way for the tank to fall over since there is no room I doubt the city will exempt it from being straped down.

Just because the work was permited doesn't mean it was done right. I wont by a house that was built within the last 15 years where I live because I know they cut corners even though they had permits and inspections. I'm sure the inspector drove past at some point but I doubt he got out of his truck.

I'm scared to go into some of the new buildings around here. One casino sank so much they had to relevel the generators because the tilt was so much it was throwing the oil level off. Another building that is under construction 15 floors of rebar had been installed wrong and wasn't caught until after concrete was in. Instead of fixing it they are just shortening the building to 28 floors instead of 49. After that they again had problems with the rebar this time they found the problem I think on the 21st floor then the contractor said that is how we did it for all floors above a certain level. We have also had hotel/casinos that had to close off parts of the hotel because of unpermitted work.

Even though I think that building permits are mostly just a way of getting more money from you I wouldn't do any major work without one. If the city starts cracking down and requires inspections when you sell, like some have said is happening. I'll bet you will have to bring it up to the current code no grandfathering of your work since they don't know when it was done.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

...you know about those 'up to $1500' stimulus rebates for improving windows...well the local townships now want a permit when swapping out a window....make that a $1450 rebate!


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"I work for a large, well known, insurance company. I agree that if anything happens to damage your home, or cause injury to someone on your property, that could have POTENTIALLY been caused by unpermitted work, you're on your own."

Cite the exact clause in the policy.

Every policy I have ever had has been "all hazard."
Outside of the usual war, nuclear, and flood exclusions the place is insured from fire from any source.

They could try and make noise about "waste" but Are not going to get very far if an improvement is being made.

I have testified in a number of cases involving insurance companies trying to cheat policy holders.

The can of gasoline in the shed attached to the house was one.
The fire started in the basement and spread to the shed.
Insurance company lost.

Some states have almost ridiculouse rules for things like CO.
They are revoked at every sale to give them municipality another shot at inspection and taxes.

Other places never even think about them after the initial occupancy.

My present house was built in 1935 before things like a CO even existed (or much of a building code).

I can assure you there is no original CO for many of the houses in Alexandria, Virginia.
They date to well before the Revolutionary War.
As long as they have been maintained and not been condemned at any point, no one even looks for a CO.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

We considered not pulling a permit, most people we talked to hadn't. After some sleepless nights we checked futher into the permit and found out that if you had a fire in the area you refinished your insurance company would not cover the loss of your home. Plus if you have a County Assessor come to do a random inspection of your home (it does happen! It happened to us last yr.) and saw your basement was refinished without a permit( it was the 1st and only place he looked) it is a $10,000 fine. We pulled a permit!! Our home and our lives are too special to lose.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

"After some sleepless nights we checked futher into the permit and found out that if you had a fire in the area you refinished your insurance company would not cover the loss of your home."

Does it say that in your policy?

If it does not and you have a common 'all hazard' policy you are covered.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

1st, the insurance not paying is BS. 2nd, why in the hell would you let someone from the county assesment office in your house? Without a warrant, which I seriously doubt they had, they have no right to enter.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Hi Everyone,
Need some help here. Am currently selling a house in Massachusetts which was a rental. Previous tenant (who I eventually evicted)was a builder and built (without my knowledge, consent or permission)a room in the basement. I've had an offer on the house with a clause that the room must be permitted. A friend suggested that I find out if the room meets code PRIOR to calling the Bldg. Inspector out since they may make me tear the room out if it does not meet code. This room is 7'1" in height approx 10 x 12 with an egress window high up on the wall. The problem is that the breaker box for all electrical is situated in this room. The friend said that the Bldg. Insp. NEVER allows this and would indeed make me rip the room out and not to call them....

The buyer is getting an FHA loan and they have stricter requirements. However, in the FHA loan requirements that I read, I saw that sometimes the FHA allows a non-permitted room, but does not include the "value" of that room in their appraisal of the house value for the loan.

Here is the actual language from the FHA website: "Often, non-permitted additions and remodels are not finished to code. Not only may FHA require that these items be brought to code, but if FHA decides to approve the loan without that requirement, FHA will not consider the value of non-permitted items in its appraisal.

FHA repair guidelines are also subject to lender overlays. FHA may approve a non-permitted structure, but the lender's investor guidelines could cause an FHA loan to be denied for a non-permitted addition or remodel. "

I would not mind getting (paying) for a permit for this work, but if the breaker box cannot be in the "room" there is no point in calling in the bldg inspector. I suspect my buyer will run not walk to the nearest exit. I will attempt to let him know that a non-permitted room will mean future tax savings over the years ahead as opposed to informing the city (pulling the permit) and having taxes go up.

Can anyone address breaker boxes in rooms in basements -- specifically in Massachusetts single family dwellings? The room could be used as an office, even though it has heat and cable tv. Thoughts?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

When you say a room - do you mean a 'bedroom'? Maybe it doesn't qualify for a bedroom, but a breaker box in a 'room' illegal? Well the basement itself is a 'room'.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Doug,

I just found out that there was a communication problem. The builder meant to say "meter" not breaker box. Sheesh. Anyhoo, I was able to get a permit for this room but I was told its use would be limited to an office, not a bedroom, even tho it has a small window.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

lets look at the other side....say I finally finsih my basement....its been framed out for 3 years...I really just need electrical and drywall...some areas (closets) are already drywalled and being used.

I had planned on getting the elctrical inspected but now fear opening a can of worms since I did not know I needed anything for framing....fyi...nothing structural was framed and no plumbing done, just perimeter framing using propper 2x4, pt where necesary, XPS against the concrete etc etc.

Anyhoo...lets say I get it all wired up but not inspected. I have taken extensive pics of everything I have done and take pics of the electrical as well. Lets say I sell in 5 years AND they want everything brought up to code.

1) How do they tell is not already to code?
2) What if I went above and beyond code?
3) Must I rip stuff out?
4) Are my pictures a saving grace or could they work against me if code changes or code is not caught up to 'best practice' I used....Ex: they do not like XPS used in homes for some reason...or they want a plastice sheet hung in back of the xps ect etc.
5) how do tey know for sure the home was not alwasy this way...is that logged somewhere?


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I had an interesting experience recently, I'm refinancing my mortgage to take advantage of the low rates. I had to have an apprasial done. The apprasial was the most thorough I've seen, where they went through the house and took pictures of every room. When the mortgage went to underwriting the only issue that came up was to provide proof the improvements were legally permitted. I was quite surprised by this and the first time I've heard of it. It something you might consider going forward.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

3 weeks ago my friend recieved a call from the realtor who sold his home for him 5 years ago. She was looking for the date of his basement refinish in the old house. The realtor is now selling the house again for the folks who bought it from my friend.

Apparently the sellers are having an issue w/an unpermitted basement "re-do". Now my friend (the previous owner) says they had a handyman panel and add a drop ceiling, enclose a toilet (replaced-added to existing plumbing run) and replace a slop sink (w/new vanity:also to exisiting plumbing run) and rip out a tub and replace with a shower stall (also to exisiting plumbing)in an adjacent room. He did not change the footprint of the basement or do any structural work-toilet & sink enclosure is just press.tx.wood studding and paneling. He did get a permit for replacement of a new furnace & hot water heater (as required) but did not pull a permit for the walling/paneling, ceiling or enclosure of the toilet room (built outside an exisiting laundry room). Now the present sellers are being asked to either pay for permits to bring it up to date or to "remove" the improvements-which were simply replacements/upgrades made by my friend of existing fixtures when he owned the house. My buddy is wondering if as the previous owner- can he have any liability in this issue as the toilet/sink and the separately roomed shower seem to be an issue now? Any thoughts? By the way, the house was in NJ.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I would think those opportunities reset themselves when the house was sold...ie local government had there chance to make their case at the prior sale....this should now be grandfathered....its hard enough to sell a home now a days...local gov wants there $$$$ too I guess..


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

In our city a basement cannot be added into the sq ft of the home - so how does that increase the value (and taxes) on your home? we had our basement done and the job was done with less than $200 in permits. The inspector caught several items on the plans that we would never have thougth of as a problem.And would have cost alot more than $200 to fix. If you have a fire or water damage - believe me your insurance company is going to grill you over non permitted work. They are always looking for a way to NOT pay your claim. we just bought a home in a different area - and if the house is vacant more than 90 days they are required to do an inspection of the home. If they find non permited work done in the home - the new home owner must "fix" what ever they find. Much like a CO in many areas. Not to mention many county auditors now list what work was done on your home - well at least the permited work.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

Hi everyone,

is it possible that if there were no permits pulled to finish a basement, that one can get away with a bathroom, walls, and flooring when selling the house?

when I'm selling the house, do I have to take down everything I built in that basement, or can I sell it as is?

or if I want to bring the basement up to code, the bathroom as an example, should be rebuilt from scratch or is there another way to bring it up to code?

thanks for your help


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

We have done dozens of basements in the last 12 years, and only two were with permit, one was an insurance restoration; another was a preference of the owner.
Now that the cities in Ontario are relieved of Electrical Inspections, the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority), a separate Inspections service is required and a good idea to obtain it is a cost based on scope of project.
We have had several ESA inspections made without city building permits, of two natures one where a license electrician has performed all the aspects including obtaining the electrical permit and providing proof of inspection final, passing with their license attached, this is a higher cost of service.
The other is where the Home Owner makes the application (assumes all responsibility) for the Electrical permit and does the job themselves with or without guidance, it is important that the home Owner has good knowledge of the installation process and local code requirements in their area.
The ESA inspectors have made many inspections over the years and unless the individual inspector is new or a �jerk� (yes some are out there and you will know them quickly either by experience or word of mouth) the experienced inspector will on site know the degree of inspection detail that will be required, upon a quick visual and brief Q and A, for example if the license electrician that has a 'zero' deficiency report on record will general have a brief inspections and permission to cover-up the rough work and the inspector may or may not be back and sign off final on the word on the licensed electrician, this may not be the correct/normal process but there are few inspectors that practice this with good licensed contractors.
Either way you go about it you can always do you own research online and see what �Joe� Holmes says about the way to go, take in mind that some of their programming is extreme cases and should not be interpreted as the norm.
PS/ 90% plus of the basement renovations done to date have had no permit whatsoever.


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

I have a slightly different situation. I've been on the fence on pulling a permit. I'm in Georgia, where I understand homes are sold under a buy beware clause. I bought my home via a short sale, looking at the records later I see that the basement appears to not have had a permit pulled and is shown as unfinished on the tax record. I want to finish a bonus room ( attic space but on the same floor as the other bedrooms). But if an inspector comes in he'll probably go in the basement to check out the plumbing connections that were made there. So it would seem I might open a can of worm with the rest of the basement (very large) if I pull a permit for the new bedroom and bath. Any thoughts?/


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RE: Finish basement with no permitt

The inspector only inspects what work you list on the permit.


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