Results 1 to 18 of 18
  1. #1
    Bob Sisson's Avatar
    Bob Sisson Guest

    Default Non-Permitted Work wording???

    I often come across "improvements" that "seem acceptable" but did not have permits pulled for them. Some are easy to see the issues on such as decks... but others have the work hidden such as basement remodels that involve hidden plumbing and electric components.

    Does anyone have a nice "Boiler plate" that says eloquently that the improvements do not appear to have been done with a permit and may have hidden defects and violations...." that I can copy from?

    My clients are always also asking me "what is the risk...can they make the buyer take it out later... can I get an "as built permit" and so on... and I don't have eloquent answers...

    I am in MARYLAND if it makes a difference...

    Similar Threads:
    Inspection Referral

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    1,258

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    It's almost every house with me. I have this at the beginning of my report:

    Note: The determination of the proper building permits and paperwork is beyond the scope of the inspection. It is recommended that you make sure that the proper permits were applied for and finalized with the county government.




    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  3. #3
    Bob Sisson's Avatar
    Bob Sisson Guest

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    The issue is that we already KNOW that the proper permits were not applied for...

    "NOW What?" is what my clients ask...

    Getting permits on work already done is not possible, it may not have even been this owner who had the work done...

    Detailed specific inspection (Plumber, electrician...) may not be possible either without tearing out walls and scoping pipes in floors...

    Price reduction for unpermitted work...Maybe... and then they will need to deal with the same issue when THEY go to sell....

    I am hopping to find an eloquent paragraph or so that sums up all of these issues and presents them well...


  4. #4

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Robinson View Post
    It's almost every house with me. I have this at the beginning of my report:

    Note: The determination of the proper building permits and paperwork is beyond the scope of the inspection. It is recommended that you make sure that the proper permits were applied for and finalized with the county government.

    So, I assume that is in your disclaimer. So, if I even read it, I won't understand what it means because it does not identify which work I need to check for.

    Why not just say "the new repairs to the xyz" do not look professionally done and would have required permits and inspections. Check with the town." or some such direct language.


  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Sisson View Post
    I often come across "improvements" that "seem acceptable" but did not have permits pulled for them. Some are easy to see the issues on such as decks... but others have the work hidden such as basement remodels that involve hidden plumbing and electric components.

    Does anyone have a nice "Boiler plate" that says eloquently that the improvements do not appear to have been done with a permit and may have hidden defects and violations...." that I can copy from?

    My clients are always also asking me "what is the risk...can they make the buyer take it out later... can I get an "as built permit" and so on... and I don't have eloquent answers...

    I am in MARYLAND if it makes a difference...
    You can get a permit for about anything already done. Now of course it means there may have to be dismantling or opening up or removing drywall or waht ever the case so they can determine what has actuially been done.

    Depending on the type of work done it may be a simple task. But then again everything may have to be pulled apart in order to satisfy the AHJ.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    You can get a permit for about anything already done. Now of course it means there may have to be dismantling or opening up or removing drywall or waht ever the case so they can determine what has actuially been done.

    Depending on the type of work done it may be a simple task. But then again everything may have to be pulled apart in order to satisfy the AHJ.

    In some cases the result is two options: 1) tear it down; 2) tear it down and rebuild it right. Option 2) is not always available as the unpermitted structure may have been encroaching on a property line or easement and the AHJ may not allow option 2), the AHJ may simply state option 1).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Mitchell Toelle's Avatar
    Mitchell Toelle Guest

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Sisson View Post
    The issue is that we already KNOW that the proper permits were not applied for...

    "NOW What?" is what my clients ask...

    Getting permits on work already done is not possible, it may not have even been this owner who had the work done...

    Detailed specific inspection (Plumber, electrician...) may not be possible either without tearing out walls and scoping pipes in floors...

    Price reduction for unpermitted work...Maybe... and then they will need to deal with the same issue when THEY go to sell....

    I am hopping to find an eloquent paragraph or so that sums up all of these issues and presents them well...
    Actually Bob, you have no idea whether something has had a permit issued for it "unless" you have already done the permit research. You can, however, determine that one or more deficiencies are present that appear to indicate that work may have been perfromed without obtaining the proper permits. We see these red flags all the time.

    It is always important to inform your client of what you are seeing, describe why it is considered a deficiency, recommend what to do, i.e. refer. If there are enough deficiencies regarding a certain area, areas, equipment, system, or systems then you have an obligation to tell your client that you believe a permit may not have been issued, and that they should inquire with the Owner in that regard or do a permit research.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    2,797

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Here's an example of how I report such suspicions:

    Observation: The defects listed in the "Structural-Findings", "Plumbing-Findings" and "Electrical-Findings" sections of this report (below) - especially the electrical defects in the kitchen and bathrooms and the plumbing and structural modifications in the basement - suggest to me that some work at this property may not have been done by experienced trades persons and/or that this the work may not have been performed in accordance with the requirements in effect when the work was performed.

    Analysis: In my experience such "nonstandard" work is sometimes performed without required permits and inspections. If so, at a future date the the local authority having jurisdiction ("AHJ", such as a local building department) may require that such work be redone to current standards. If that happens, as the current owner you will be responsible for obtaining permits and inspections and for the cost of repairs even if the non-compliant work was done by a previous owner. In addition, you could be required to perform the work to current requirements and standards, which is some cases could be considerably more expensive than just correcting the work to the older standards in effect at the time it was originally done.

    Recommendation: Request that the seller or their agent document that this work was permitted, inspected and accepted by the AHJ. If the seller cannot provide such documentation, request that they have the property inspected by AHJ for compliance with current requirements. If this inspection cannot be performed, research the permit history of this property at AHJ to determine if all required permits were obtained and all required final inspections were performed for all work done since construction. If permits and/or all final approvals were not obtained determine if any additional upgrading or improvement is currently required to bring the property into compliance with state and local requirements, and obtain quotes to perform this work.

    As such work could be a significant or major expense expense I recommend you obtain this information prior to the expiration of your inspection contingency period and/or consult with an attorney regarding steps you can take to protect yourself from unexpected expense to perform these repairs.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  9. #9
    Justin Nickelsen's Avatar
    Justin Nickelsen Guest

    Smile Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Sisson View Post
    I often come across "improvements" that "seem acceptable" but did not have permits pulled for them. Some are easy to see the issues on such as decks... but others have the work hidden such as basement remodels that involve hidden plumbing and electric components.

    Does anyone have a nice "Boiler plate" that says eloquently that the improvements do not appear to have been done with a permit and may have hidden defects and violations...." that I can copy from?

    My clients are always also asking me "what is the risk...can they make the buyer take it out later... can I get an "as built permit" and so on... and I don't have eloquent answers...

    I am in MARYLAND if it makes a difference...
    I would say something like this:

    "It appears possible that the addition on the west side of the home may have been completed without proper permites. Recommend that you request permit documentation from the seller. If unable to provide, recommend collecting information concerning this addition from the local regulatory bodies."

    Or...

    "Recommend that the seller provide all applicable permits for the addition on the west side of the home."

    Doing it this way allows you to make your statement (questioning the whether they were permited or not), yet doing it in a way that puts all of the pressure on the seller. If the purchaser asks the seller to provide the permits and he/she can not... well... then you are already working towards a solution.

    If the seller, by contract, agrees to provide permits and can not, THEN THEY HAVE JUST AGREED TO DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THEM FOR YOU... WHICH MAY MEAN CORRECTING ANY PROBLEMS WITH THE STRUCTURE.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Lake Barrington, IL
    Posts
    1,363

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    What? Permits will make a difference as to whether something is right or wrong? Some of you may have too much faith in the municipal system.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by fritzkelly View Post
    I just say " Determination of whether proper building permits were obtained for this conversion (addition, etc.) is beyond the scope of this inspection. I recommend researching building permits prior to close of escrow.
    Honestly, it's not your job.
    Agree.... In 10 years of doing this I've yet to be in a house older than about 10 years that doesn't have some work that should have been permitted and wasn't and is done wrong. It's just a can of worms way larger than we're paid to open. Report what you see and go home.


  12. #12
    Justin Nickelsen's Avatar
    Justin Nickelsen Guest

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Certainly it "isn't our job"... that said, very few really stick to the basic, stripped down version of home inspections that are provided in State of Association SOP's. Some use "tools", others use "words", others add this or that.

    I have no blanket way that I handle it. The other day I had an addition on a home that was only 10 years old, and it was very obvious that it didn't have permits taken out on it. While my work in construction and my work as a home inspector give me some understanding that Code inspectors often do not do a good job, I could tell there wasn't a permit.

    I wrote down the problems that existed, but I added: "Recommend that the seller provide all applicable permits for the addition or that the work be performed deemed necessary, in addition to what was noted in the report, by the applicable regulatory bodies."

    I did this because if the purchaser, in my market, asked hte seller to fix X Y and Z they would have said no. However, if the purchaser asked what I told him to ask and the seller agreed to it, he would end up having 1) the County notice, 2) would have to finish the work to obtain applicable permits (there wasn't even a certificate of occupancy provided for this house!?).

    So, in a round about way, the buyer may be able to get the work done because the seller will be pushed into it not because of the buyer alone, but because the County will be on him.

    This is just an example. Different situations call for different things. Everything comes down to what you are writing and how you are writing it.

    I never said it "didn't" have a permit: I told him to collect the applicable permits.

    jn


  13. #13
    Restoration's Avatar
    Restoration Guest

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    The hidden work as you said gets difficult.The basement needs a lot of attention and should be asked for separately.


  14. #14

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Why do these discussions about code and permits keep coming up over and over again? It is outside the scope for any home inspector to determine code violations or if permits were obtained. That is not our job or jurisdiction. We don't legally have that authority. As has already been stated, whether there was a permit or not doesn't mean that it was done right OR wrong. It only means that the local agency got their money for the permit. I find things not done up to standard all the time on bran new houses that have been "inspected" and signed off by the code inspectors. Anybody who has spent any time in the building trades knows that code people are not always very thorough or even know all the codes they are supposed to be enforcing. How many times have you seen them go into a crawl space or attic or climb a ladder onto a roof? Furthermore, if they know the builder, or maybe golf with him, they sometimes don't even get out of their truck, especially if they are late for lunch or anxious to get home to watch the game and have a beer.
    I NEVER use that four letter word C##E, especially not in an official capacity in writing. It doesn't mean you can't protect your client and that you are not a good inspector because you don't claim to have the authority to determine code and represent yourself as an expert of everything. We are supposed to be acting as general practitioners. There is no sham in being a good GP. In my opinion, if a home inspector is actively promoting themselves as an expert in everything and offering to do multiple specialty inspections, including being a code specialist, it could be motivated more by increasing their bottom line than by protecting their clients. Being a knowledgeable, competent generalist is a specialty unto itsí self.
    You can communicate the same thing by using terms like: modern best practices, acceptable standards, safety hazard, unprofessional, or the like.
    If I didn't follow inspection sops and red flagged everything I thought might not have been permitted, there would probably be red flags in almost every report, and it wouldn't necessarily be doing my clients a service. If every house in my area that had non permitted work was required to get one, the state wouldn't have a budget surplus and if they were required to be torn down the homeless population would be staggering.

    Brent Lerwill, Coos Bay, Oregon

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    One of the big problems show up if the seller pulled a permit and never had it finalized. Then the inspector shows up after closing to inspect the work and makes the new owner correct the issues.

    I had an issue like this happen a few years back. New Hardy Plank siding on the entire exterior. All installed incorrectly. No window flashing, no corner flashing, open but joints, etc. It all needed to come off and be redone. I advised the sellers of it and advised further review and to check for the permits.

    Long story short, it turns out the agent was representing both the buyer and seller and she convinced the buyer I didn't know what I was talking about and that all the appropriate permits were pulled and finalized. Two months after the buyers moved in the city inspector shows up for the final inspection, sees it's all done wrong and gives the new owner 30 days to correct the siding. She got three estimates, the lowest being $14,000. The agent's broker ended up paying and the agent was fired.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago IL
    Posts
    1,984

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Lots of good suggestions so far for wording. I'll let Bob and others figure out that aspect of this thread.
    Bob, you need to contact your municipal building and law departments to determine what the local position is. This is vital for any suggestions you may make in a report.
    In Chicago, any violations 'run with the property', NOT with any past owners, contractors, etc. The 'current' owner is responsible for any violations, permits, removal, re-installation, plans, blah, blah. It is key to know how your Muni handles this. Since the violations run with the property here, costs for past mis-deeds by others can cost a new owner significant $.
    The new owner has the option of pursuing legal action against the previous owner for such costs. However, that is usually a waste of time. I have discussed such options with clients, some have opted to sue, others have decided to move on and deal with the situation. Those that have opted to sue don't usually end up happy or whole.
    I let clients know whether work appears to have been done with or without permits and what the implications for them are. Sometimes I'll do permit research, other times I won't. Depends on the client.
    For those that don't address such matters in their report, that's really a shame. Maybe your locale or clientele don't justify it, I don't know.
    For those of us who inspect bungalows or other SF with basements, addressing such issues is almost a 'requirement' for survival. A previous storage attic or utility basement that has been converted to occupancy space without Plans, Permits or proper work can easily cost a new owner +/-$50K if they get busted.
    Do you really want to be the HI saying, 'Oh, your honor it's not part of my contract or SOP'?

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,252

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    Quote Originally Posted by brent lerwill View Post
    Why do these discussions about code and permits keep coming up over and over again?
    Because home inspectors SHOULD KNOW the code to which what they are looking at was SUPPOSED TO BE constructed - how else would you know it was right or not right?

    It only means that the local agency got their money for the permit.

    Actually, getting the permit means that whatever work which was proposed to be done was reviewed and received approval for being done as specified.

    Without follow up inspections, no, it does not mean the work was done as permitted. Then again, as we have seen many times, even having been inspected does not mean the work was right. In fact, having been "permitted" does not even mean it was inspected, having been "permitted" really only means the first part of the process was done - the application, review, and approval to do as was permitted ... having been "permitted" does not mean the work was even ever done, or, if done, inspections were called in to be inspected.

    Also, having been permitted does not mean that only the permitted work was done.

    It is much more complex than "just give me the money and I will give you the permit". To think otherwise is quite incorrect.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Columbus GA
    Posts
    3,746

    Default Re: Non-Permitted Work wording???

    "You can communicate the same thing by using terms like: modern best practices, acceptable standards, safety hazard, unprofessional, or the like"

    What "acceptable standards" are you refering too, if not Codes"?

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •