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Finish basement with no permitt

sn002
15 years ago

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!

Comments (99)

  • buckeye1
    15 years ago

    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!

  • timmybets
    12 years ago

    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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  • worthy
    12 years ago

    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.

  • brickeyee
    12 years ago

    ""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.

  • worthy
    12 years ago

    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.

  • brickeyee
    12 years ago

    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).

  • worthy
    12 years ago

    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.

  • velvetfoot
    12 years ago

    The problem is taxation based on property value.

  • tracey_b
    12 years ago

    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

  • brickeyee
    12 years ago

    "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.

  • mrhouse
    12 years ago

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

  • schreibdave
    12 years ago

    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.

  • mike_kaiser_gw
    12 years ago

    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.

  • lovinghusband
    12 years ago

    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.

  • kaffine
    12 years ago

    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.

  • andrelaplume2
    12 years ago

    ...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!

  • brickeyee
    12 years ago

    "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.

  • pstorlien_hotmail_com
    10 years ago

    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.

  • brickeyee
    10 years ago

    "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.

  • daveho
    10 years ago

    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.

  • dfaustclancy
    10 years ago

    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?

  • doug_gb
    10 years ago

    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'.

  • dfaustclancy
    10 years ago

    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.

  • andrelaplume2
    10 years ago

    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?

  • chris8796
    10 years ago

    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.

  • sleuthscribe
    10 years ago

    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.

  • andrelaplume2
    10 years ago

    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..

  • columbusgardener
    10 years ago

    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.

  • benbak
    9 years ago

    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

  • TheHandymanIsIn
    8 years ago

    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.

  • Recker
    7 years ago

    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?/

  • geoffrey_b
    7 years ago

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

  • Jeff Moreau
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I would highly suggest pulling permits. The small fees are worth the hassle that could be if you don't have them. In my situation, we are in the market to buy our first home. We found a house and put an offer on it. When going through the inspection we found some double tap wires in the finished basement. Our inspector raised concerned about whether permits were pulled. We asked the sellers, and the basement was in there before they moved in. We looked with the village and permits were never pulled. Our Credit Union guy told us without permits it's going to lower the value of the house (as these sellers have it included), which affects how much they will lend to us. So in our case without permits we can't buy the house. Our insurance guy said they will not insure us without the permits and if they did, if there was ever a fire that started in the basement, they would not pay out. From this standpoint, it's not worth the risk for us. We put it back on the sellers to fix it and pay the penalties (which are double the current permit price) plus the hassle of needing to draw up plans and have it re-inspected, with the chance of tearing down walls, and possibly everything. This became a headache for them, as well as us. They can't sell without going through this trouble. They could take their chance and put the house back on the market...but they might run into another buyer like ourselvers...where they can't buy either because the lending appraisal or insurance guy will ask for permits. If the chance they don't find out...then we could have the problem down the road. And because building codes are always changing and permit fees going up, there is a very good chance we will have to pull everything down later. Not worth the risk.

  • geoffrey_b
    6 years ago

    @Jeff - ya know this thread is from 2006 - 9 years old.

  • Jeff Moreau
    6 years ago

    Haha. I know! But I stumbled upon it when googling no permits for finished basement when looking for advice. So if I got here, I'm sure someone else would as well. I decided to leave my two cents just in case. But I totally realize this doesn't help the original poster.

  • Vith
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    As far as getting sued if you renovated the basement and then sold, and then an issue occured, you could put in the purchase agreement that the seller will not be held liable for any future failures and any damage that occurs due to those failures upon purchase. I think that should be in the purchase agreement anyhow. People buying a home should assume that it is their baby now and any issues that come up is their problem. Major problems should be found during inspection (if possible) and the price lowered to address the problem.


    Even if people do things correctly and to code there can be failures. People that renovate to code and sell should not even be an option to foot the bill to for damages.

  • Mick Mick
    6 years ago

    After some thought, I went ahead and pulled permits. It helped me because my first contractor was a total hack. I used the permit codes as a basis for a mutual walk-away agreement.


    It is a hassle to go through the bureaucracy.

  • Vith
    6 years ago

    Permits help homeowners verify work was done correctly, that is what they are primarily for. However, permits allow the local gov to realize your house is being remodeled and needs to be reassessed for taxes. The OP was talking about not pulling permits so they dont have to pay more for taxes with the remodel increasing value to the home.

  • bry911
    6 years ago

    Your insurance guy lied to you. They will pay out for work done by a previous owner even if the work is ultimately responsible for the damage. Your homeowner's insurance will protect you from third party negligence, assuming there is no specific knowlwdge of a hazard. Essentially, your homeowner's insurance protects you from everyone except yourself and certain acts of mother nature.


  • Jeff Moreau
    6 years ago

    Thanks, that's good to know.

  • betaiota
    6 years ago

    Almost 9 years later and this thread is still alive! I love it. I guess an update is long overdue...

    I decided to pull permits and I must say, it was extremely easy, relatively inexpensive, and I would do it again if I had the chance. Since the start of this thread, it took a few more winters to finish framing, electrical, and plumbing rough-ins. I then waited until I was ready for drywall, then contacted my building and health (for plumbing) departments. I drew basic plans, submitted them, and the inspectors came out. I got my OK and I took most of the year to pick away at the drywall, drop ceiling, and the finish trim. They were just fine with me starting the work and waiting until the walls were ready to be closed up, and also giving my final CO before I finished the flooring.

    Many call it a hassle but in the end, I just figured that with so much money put into the largest asset that I own, it's pretty amateur to not pull a permit. And putting myself in a buyer's shoes, I'd be glad to know that important items such as electrical and plumbing have been inspected and passed code. I'm going to be selling in a few years, and this will set my house apart from others in the neighborhood-for a couple hundred bucks-it's a no-brainer.

  • Jeff Moreau
    6 years ago

    Thanks for the update!

  • rocknrope
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I'm going through this dilemma right now. We moved into a new house (brand new construction) last August with an unfinished basement. I interviewed at least 6 contractors for the job. 90% said they would want to pull permits. The remaining 10% said they would do whatever I wanted. Here's the problem. I live in one of the highest, if not the highest taxed counties in the country (you can guess the state.) I pay an obscene amount of property tax on a relatively small lot (your jaws would drop if I told you.) My taxes would likely go up 2K/year. The reason why the developer didn't finish the basement was to avoid adding to the crazy tax assessment we already have.

    We're not planning on moving for at least 15 years, so the way we figure it, when it comes time to sell, we'll deal with a fine and any adjustments we may need to make, and it still probably won't amount to 30K. That said, all the work is still being done professionally and up to code.

  • Jeff Moreau
    6 years ago
    last modified: 6 years ago

    I have a friend whose in a similar situation as rocknrope. When they decided to do updates, they decided to go without the permits to avoid the dramatic increase in property taxes. They are not planning to move anytime soon either. The one issue down the road is if people do ask about permits and because codes continually change, you may have to rip out sections to make it up to code. It could cost you lots. More than likely you won't have to do that. In my situation, the city didn't ask to go behind walls, but to just fix anything they can see immediately...needed different (safer) recess lighting canisters (old ones would have been fine if there were original permits) and a vent to the outside. It still cost the sellers about $2000 with the labor/materials. So chances are you won't have to do major work later on. My suggestion is when it comes time to sell, just have a contractor or electrician just go over stuff in your basement. If it looks good to the eye, chances are the buyers won't question the permits. The only reason we questioned our permits was because the electrical box had oblivious signs of being done wrong...like missing caps on empty slots, too many wires into the circuit. If it was cleaned up a head of time we would have never thought to check out the permit situation with the city. And that was done only because our home inspector recommended it when he saw the electrical box.

  • schreibdave
    6 years ago

    Having done three basements myself without a permit I would do the next one (not going to be a next one) WITH a permit. The sale of my second house nearly fell through over the lack of a permit to finish the basement. Considering that I was moving to a different city for a new job, that was a serious problem. I would also question the professionalism of a contractor who was ok doing the work without a permit. My sense is that the guys who are successful and in it for the long haul value their reputation and standing with the municipalities enough that they wouldn't want to risk that for a small basement job. You might be surprised how little pulling a permit would raise your assessment - I would innocently ask my tax assessor what a finished basement would do to my bill.

  • theresse
    6 years ago

    In my town, a few years ago I did a PARTIAL remodel of my small kitchen, in my neighborhood which has recently become historic and is a very rapidly gentrifying, popular place for all the new transplants to move to - ugh don't get me started. This partial remodel involved 12' of new lower cabinets made to look similar to the hundred year-old cabs throughout the rest of the kitchen, a new stainless countertop, new farm sink, new faucet, new marble subway tile backsplash, new disposal, new Samsung fridge (what a piece of crap, by the way), a new dishwasher, a couple of new lights plus under-cab lights along that 12 feet - and admittedly we also got a new electrical panel to support these new things, and also at that time ended up getting a new water heater and new water main from the street as well as new outlets in the kitchen. The permits alerted the assessment folks who came to see what was what about 6 months later. Clearly, I had a smallish kitchen and hadn't expanded it as most of our neighbors have, and he saw I had all original cabinets everywhere except those new lower ones, as well as a crappy electric stove and crappy old fir floors. But he noted the new water main, electrical panel full of all its power and glory, etc etc. I of course pointed out that it was just a basic partial remodel and I'm sure he laughed on the inside. Anyway, our taxes went up by about a thousand per year. PER YEAR. I'm sure some of it was due to the neighborhood and whatever else but me thinks a hefty amount had to do with that damned inspection. After all, the taxes had been steadily rising for about 10 years at that point - but never so much as after he came. He even said "good thing you let me come over" or "good thing you didn't forget and weren't home, because based on these permits I would have assumed you had a larger whole kitchen remodel done and your taxes would go up much higher than what they'll likely do from this inspection." Yeah, no. What really kills me is that I was talked into getting the new water main and water heater because the faucet wasn't getting the water out well enough and they thought it was a water pressure issue. Turns out the faucet was clogged! I had to get the water heater because they said the sediment probably ruined the old one when getting the new water main.

    I'm terrified now about the basement job I want to do very soon here - adding a full apartment or at least studio that we can rent out so that we can have some extra income...ironically due to the tax increases that are all but displacing us neighborhood natives out to the burbs as so many others have had to go before us!! : - / I'm glad the value of our house will go up but DANG IT we can't afford to have those taxes hike up much further!

    Sorry for the rant...

  • swatia15
    6 years ago

    I partially finished a basement and did not know about getting a permit. How do I go about getting one after the fact now?

  • mday40
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I just contracted on a home in which the seller did not disclose that the 1/2 bath and updated kitchen were not permitted. Needless to say, she included these updates in the asking price. During inspection, we realized that the bath is not completely up to code; zoning also does no permit a 1/2 bath to be located in the basement. The kitchen remodeling was poorly done; cabinets and counter top not leveled, backslash pieces missing, plumbing not done up to code and an electrical outlet is needed. Needless to say when I called the permit office to see if she had permits for these updates. She did not. Therefore, not only am I not paying the price agreed upon for the home but now she has to rip out the bathroom and get permits for the kitchen prior to trying to sell them again. The city said she will be fined and her taxes will go up (slightly). I am also asking for her to refund my inspection cost; because I never would have put a bid in on the home if I had know the bathroom was not permitted.

    WARNING: Buyers are checking on these things, especially when they are paying extra for them. Either be upfront when disclosing or your taking a huge risk.

  • HU-57835620
    last year

    A neighbor listed his house with a finished basement that does not show up in the tax records. Is it fair that I pull permits and pay my taxes while the other house doesn't?

  • schreibdave
    last year

    I think it's unlikely that a finished basement has much impact on the assessed value and therefore the tax bill. And making an improvement without a permit can make it harder to sell the house - I know that from experience.


    But to answer your question, no it's not fair.