When buying a property, due diligence is very important. If you are buying a property that was recently renovated, you need to ensure that the renovation was done properly and that the proper permits were applied for and obtained. Here are 3 important questions to ask:
Was a permit required?
This is the first question and it is the most important. Unless the renovation consisted of painting, putting down new flooring, or doing aesthetic improvements, a building permit is needed. Do not let anyone advise you that you don't need a building permit as long as the work is done correctly. Here is the issue: without a valid permit, you don't have confirmation that the work has been done properly. If you are unsure whether or not you require a permit, give us a call or send us a request, and we will be glad to advise you.
Do you have a copy of the permit and approved plans?
When buying a home, you become responsible for all the work done by the prior owner. If the seller says that a permit was obtained, ask to see it, or call the local jurisdiction to find out if permits were applied for. Write down the address on a piece of paper and call the City. Ask the customer service agent for all of the permits associated with the property you are looking at buying. Once you know that a building permit was approved, you have two choices: you can trust that the permit matches the improvements or you can request to view the building permit file to validate that the permit matches the existing conditions.
Very often, permits are applied for, but, no inspection was completed which makes the permit invalid. This means that you have no confirmation that the work was done properly. Unfortunately, we see this issue quite frequently.
Can you apply for your permits now?
You can apply for a building permit even after it is completed. The challenge is to pass the inspections. If the work is already completed, the city inspector may need you to open portions of the walls to see that the construction was done properly. Unfortunately, we see this happening very often and it adds cost and time. However, this additional cost and time should not deter you from requesting the permit before buying
Happy buying :)
(exerted from the permit pros, Brian Romansky)