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Old 06-17-2014, 12:39 PM
 
Location: Chester County, PA
1,077 posts, read 1,427,128 times
Reputation: 1033

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The older the work, the less I would personally be concerned about unpermitted interior work. It seems to me there are 3 primary concerns with unpermitted interior work.

One, the county code compliance office coming after you. The older the work, the more unlikely I think this would be. Where you have the biggest problem is like what led to my opening post - recent construction where a neighbor had reported the construction to the county as suspected of being unpermitted. I really don't think the county code compliance office is in the business of inspecting work that was done years ago and under a different homeowner. If the work was done more than several years ago and the county has never received a complaint or investigated, I don't think they are going to do anything about it now. I would not necessarily say the same about exterior modifications to a home - because exterior modifications are visible to anyone and everyone, I think the county could receive a complaint about that anytime.

Two, the unpermitted work actually posing a safety hazard because it wasn't up to code. A good home inspection may reveal this to some extent, but you will never fully know with some things like electrical/plumbing/HVAC that is behind walls. But, that can be said about any of the plumbing/electrical/HVAC systems in a house - even those systems that were fully permitted. It's a risk you take with any house that, at some point, a problem with one of those systems will arise and need to be fixed. Honestly, I don't even know that I would assume permitted work was completely any better than unpermitted work. If you weren't in charge of hiring the contractor and overseeing the work, you will simply never know.

Three, the unpermitted work causing liability/insurance issues should you ever experience a safety hazard or loss. I am no expert on this, but I think in order for you to have liability or for insurance to deny a claim on this basis, there would have to be both proof that the unpermitted work was the proximate cause of the loss and that there was some sort of negligence on the homeowner's part - i.e., you actually hired the contractor and told them you didn't care if they got a permit or you discovered that the electrical wiring posed a fire hazard and did nothing. I am skeptical of claims that unpermitted work completed by a prior homeowner would lead to a total denial of an insurance claim. Maybe it has happened under certain circumstances, but I just don't think this is something that is widespread.

In sum, while I think making sure properly permitted work is done to your home, I would also not personally be too terribly worried if I could not find out how/when/if the finished basement in a house I was considering buying had been fully and properly permitted. Recent unpermitted construction or a seller refusing to tell you when it was finished or properly permitted or something to that effect would be different. Just my two cents which is probably worth the price you paid for it

Last edited by airjay75; 06-17-2014 at 01:09 PM..
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:52 PM
 
529 posts, read 541,888 times
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Thanks again airjay75 for your detailed post.
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:10 PM
 
Location: Chester County, PA
1,077 posts, read 1,427,128 times
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No problem - I hope it's helpful.
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:26 PM
 
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Hmmm...I looked at that site and it appears to have some inaccuracies on any number of properties that I'm aware of....I don't think that the electronic record is completely accurate...
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Old 06-17-2014, 01:30 PM
 
5,210 posts, read 9,099,983 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuvVA View Post
Thanks.

This is what I want to hear.

I am not sure I understood you correctly. On what basis you are saying this?
The basement bathroom had the old (builder provided) sink and toilet. We have pictures . A number of other clues as well. But - yes. The builder did it as far as I can tell.
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