I know "terrify" is a strong word, but unpermitted work is a really big deal. Not only can it mean big safety concerns and big costs--but you may also run into the issue of building code violations.Ever heard of building code violations? After more than a year as a property analyst, I've come by them more times than I could count.
Most people have little-to-no understanding of what a building code violation is until it becomes a problem for them. People hear the words "code violation" and automatically think it has something to do with unmowed grass, or dead branches, but a building code violation is actually the result of a permit issue.
Building code violations are often reported only in permit searches. When a building code violation is active on your property it means either (1) the permit was not properly completed, or (2) a permit was never opened for the work done in the first place--both of which can mean BIG problems.
Here are some examples of buidling code violations resulting from work with no permit should worry a new owner:
- Someone put up a fence without a permit -- that's a BUILDING CODE VIOLATION.
- Someone got a permit for a 4-ft fence, but installed a 5-ft fence --also a BUILDING CODE VIOLATION.
So, why should you care? Buyer, Title Agent, Realtor -- whatever -- building code violations can be problematic for closings because:
- Extra work needs to be done
- The property itself may not be safe
- Extra fees may be due
- That building code violation can also result in a lien (meaning even more $$$)
Building code violations aren't inherently terrifying, but NOT knowing about those permit issues -- that's what is terrifying. Don't fret, though. It's easy enough to avoid that fright by just doing a permit search during the inspection period. ;-)