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What to do when you have not pulled the proper permits

Recently, I was working with a client and we ran into a problem.  About 2 years ago the seller decided to convert his  single car garage into a bedroom.   The garage door was framed in, new outlets were installed, heat registers were added in the ceiling and a closet was added.  The room looked great and it added heated living area to the house.  The problem is none of the work was permitted.

As the listing broker the phrase “I didn’t pull a permit” is sombldgpermitaething you do not want to hear.  So I told the seller that he had a choice.  He could get the work permitted and count the space as  heat living area which could possibly increase the sales price or we could disclose the space as non-permitted space and go in with a lower sales price.  The seller decided to get the area permitted.

These are the steps that it takes to get work that was completed without pulling a permit permitted.  Let me make it clear if anyone tells you that it will be an easy process and that it will not cost that much is lying.  Be prepared for it to be a major pain and to be expensive.

Step 1: Make Phone Calls

Call the local inspection department and find out what is required to pull a building permit. Some counties require that you post a bond to insure that you pay the permit fees.   If you need a bond go and get one.  Expect to pay about $100.00 for a bond. Other counties do not require a bond and all you have to do is pay the permit fees. Make sure find out everything the county will require before pulling the permit.

If you have any electrical, plumbing or hvac work find  licensed subcontractors that are willing to  permit the work that you have already completed.   The problem will be finding a subcontractor that is willing to take on the  risk of permitting a project that they did not work on.  Be prepared to cash in every favor you have.

Get your check book out because all the subcontractors will insist on coming out to check the project before they commit to helping you.  You can be assured that you will be paying a premium for their help.

Step 2. Pull the permitBuilding-Permits-and-Commercial-Remodeling

When you have the subcontractors in place you are now ready to pull the permit.   You will be acting as your own general contractor and you will list all the  subcontractors that you will be using.  The State of North Carolina will allow you to be your own general contractor as long as the total value of the project is less than $30,000.00.  If you go over that amount you will have to find a licensed general contractor.

Step 3. Start the work

Once you have negotiated all the work with the subcontractors get on their schedule so the work can be completed.

Be prepared to tear out and replace the majority of the original work.   In order to pass an inspection all work has to be brought up to today’s code.  Best case scenario is that the subcontractors can knock holes in the walls so they can get access to wiring, pipes and etc.   However, do not be surprised if you have to completely tear off sheetrock or other finishes.

Step 4:  Call in the rough inspection

This will be the first call made to the inspection department.  The inspector will be looking at all rough-in work that has been completed.  The key here is to make sure the inspector can see the work.  The inspector will also give you an idea of any other work that has to be brought up to code.

Hopefully you will pass the inspection on the first visit.

Step 5.  Finish the project

Once the rough inspection has been passed you can finish the project.

Step 6.  Call for final inspection

Once all the construction work is completed you can call for your final inspection.  The inspector will come back out and take a look to make sure that all work has been completed.  Once you get the approval from the inspector you are done.

Take my advice.  Whenever you decided to do a renovation project make sure you get the necessary permits.  My client estimated that it cost him at least $5,000.00 to get the permits and bring the project up to todays code.  If the permits had been when the project was original installed 2 years ago would have been $500.00 for the permits.

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