Homeowners are responsible for ensuring that contractors file for and receive construction permits and that final inspections are complete. Failure to do so and document the permits may result in expensive and time consuming work when trying to sell a house, according to Michael Downing, principal broker with Windermere Stellar Realtors in the Lloyd Tower.
“When their house is sold, there will be a home inspection by a home inspector hired by their buyer,” Downing said. “That inspector will point out items that have been done since the house was new and recommend that the city be checked for permits.”
Downing added that buyers often make it a condition of purchase that the seller obtain permits after the fact, “… and that can be very difficult for sellers, because the city will want proof that the work done was up to code. For example, if plumbing and/or electrical work has been done, and permits were not obtained, the city may require that walls be opened for inspection before the work will be sanctioned.”
The expense for that extra work will fall on the seller, Downing pointed out.
Downing recommended that, when working with a contractor, homeowners require at least 25 percent of the total cost be contractually held back until the contractor obtains final approval on all permits. He cautioned homeowners about contractors who offer two estimates: with and without permits.
“These contractors will do the job for less money without permits because it saves them time and their work is not scrutinized by a governing authority. Do not trust contractors who do business like this because the homeowner is ultimately going to be found responsible,” Downing counseled.