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Washington, DC suburbs in Maryland Calvert County, Charles County, Montgomery County, and Prince George's County
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Old 06-06-2022, 03:28 PM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, 615' Elevation, Zone 8b - originally from SF Bay Area
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If you watch Holmes Family Rescue or any other of the Mike Holmes home renovation TV shows, you will see that at least in Canada, there are many problems missed by inspectors. A lot of problems are just not visible without tearing down walls, such as bad wiring or plumbing. Asking for a permit on a garage conversion or obvious addition is one thing, but a lot of work could have been done inside without a permit and you wouldn't know that it was not original to the house. Even removing a load bearing wall without a new beam is not obvious without seeing the original blueprint of the house.
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Old 06-06-2022, 04:00 PM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
15,142 posts, read 27,760,706 times
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Isn't looking at permits just a standard when buying real estate???
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Old 06-07-2022, 09:19 AM
 
Location: It's in the name!
7,083 posts, read 9,561,771 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamingo13 View Post
Isn't looking at permits just a standard when buying real estate???
That's what I thought.
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Old 06-08-2022, 10:41 PM
 
Location: Prince George's County
44 posts, read 46,051 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flamingo13 View Post
Isn't looking at permits just a standard when buying real estate???
When you say looking at permits is "standard", I gather that you mean as a matter of course in purchasing a home one would check for permits. It probably is standard for someone who has purchased a property and gotten screwed. Having learned their lesson they may check for their next purchase. I started looking at real estate ads for renovated/flipped houses, noting the renovations - e.g., creating open floor plan, adding a deck, recessed lighting added to an older home, new addition to the house - and then checking the county database for permits. There were so many renovated homes where there were no permits issued. A common one is a listing that shows photos of a basement kitchen and a bedroom. No permits for installation of a kitchen and no egress window )or other exit to the outside) for the basement bedroom. No permits. Try this little experiment and see what you get. And if you go to pgc311.com you can scroll through the "status" of service requests for "Private Property Concerns" and see the number of reports for construction without permits. Scary.
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Old 06-08-2022, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Prince George's County
44 posts, read 46,051 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
If you watch Holmes Family Rescue or any other of the Mike Holmes home renovation TV shows, you will see that at least in Canada, there are many problems missed by inspectors. A lot of problems are just not visible without tearing down walls, such as bad wiring or plumbing. Asking for a permit on a garage conversion or obvious addition is one thing, but a lot of work could have been done inside without a permit and you wouldn't know that it was not original to the house. Even removing a load bearing wall without a new beam is not obvious without seeing the original blueprint of the house.
Some renovations are very easy to spot on an older home. You'll know when walls were removed for an open floorplan. You'll know recessed lighting is not original to the house. You'll know a basement kitchen should have been permitted. When these homes are listed for sale they often indicate "complete renovation, top to bottom" or some such. There ought to be permits for a lot of the work. For example significant electrical renovations require inspection along the way before the work is finally approved and walls or ceilings are closed up. If there appears to be a heavy-up on the circuit breaker or even the first-time installation of a circuit breaker panel and there are no permits, well.... Not saying that permits are a guarantee of everything being OK but I need to see that the work was "professional" and meets code., especially for a total renovation. And, especially given cost of homes - completely renovated in particular - in the DMV now.
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Old 06-08-2022, 11:07 PM
 
Location: Prince George's County
44 posts, read 46,051 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayHammer View Post
Poor enforcement? PG county has some of the strictest codes in Maryland. We dreaded working there in my electrician days. Much of the nonsense that we had to do in Baltimore City, County, or PG county were arbitrary and simply increased the cost of the project (for example: "insulated" staples at 5x the cost versus the regular kind that were acceptable everywhere else) rather than provide for any real improvement in safety.
Yes, poor enforcement. There are housing additions being built by unlicensed contractors/handymen who don't get permits. Poor enforcement means that a concern can be reported to the county and they do nothing to enforce the codes. Depending on the renovation, permits are to be affixed to the front window of the house. You can see the dumpster in the driveway filled with construction debris. You know the renovation is major. There are no permits on the window. Report it to the county and wait, follow-up, wait, follow-up, wait. Meanwhile the addition is steady being built without one permit and it's in violation of several codes. No enforcement. And if the county ever gets around to investigating I'd bet they are not going to insist it be torn down because there were no permits. I've seen this happen too many times. Build it and ask for forgiveness.

I know some of the codes in PG are seen as unreasonable and there are contractors who will not work here. That may contribute to folks hiring contractors to do work without permits. For me though, if I'm buying a $500K newly renovated 1950's home, I want to know that permits were issued. I don't want my house to catch on fire, or to fall through the deck to the ground below because somebody decided to cut corners.
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Old 06-09-2022, 07:58 AM
 
1,810 posts, read 897,070 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCBornAndRaised View Post
Flipping homes is popular. But, there are a number of homes for sale where the renovations made have been done without permits and the work is illegal. Because Prince George's County has such poor enforcement of county codes, it would be wise for anyone purchasing a home to ask to see the permits for renovation work done. Chances are high there are none. Just because it's listed on a realtors web site doesn't mean everything is OK. Don't always expect your realtor to be forthcoming about the need for permits and keep you from making a big mistake. Some just want the sale and they aren't going to ask. So when you see these houses with renovated kitchens, new deck, new driveway, recessed lighting, open concept with walls removed, you'd better ask "show me the permits". What say you? Any buyers of flipped homes who have regrets? Oh, and if you are living in a "basement apartment" you'd better check to see if you are living in a fire trap. Are you sleeping in a basement with no way for an adult to escape out a window?
A lot of those renovations you listed a homeowner can do themselves without a permit.
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Old 06-09-2022, 09:33 PM
 
Location: Prince George's County
44 posts, read 46,051 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ketchikanite View Post
A lot of those renovations you listed a homeowner can do themselves without a permit.
I'm speaking specifically to work in Prince George's County that requires a permit. I'm fairly certain what I've listed requires a permit. Here are the details of permit requirements in the county: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.go...ntial-Building

Yes, Prince George's requires permits for the simplest things. As a home buyer I would sweat the big stuff - e.g., electrical, home addition - only because I know these days too many people think they can flip a home making cosmetic changes, sell it fast and make considerable profit.
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Old 06-11-2022, 05:06 AM
 
18,323 posts, read 10,648,066 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DCBornAndRaised View Post
In Prince George's County you can find out what work requires permits here: https://www.princegeorgescountymd.go...ntial-Building

You can find out whether a permit has been issued for an address here: https://dpiestatus.princegeorgescoun...itySearch.aspx
You keep saying "you can find out", no, my agent should find out it's why they are getting paid!
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Old 06-14-2022, 11:03 PM
 
Location: Prince George's County
44 posts, read 46,051 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G1.. View Post
You keep saying "you can find out", no, my agent should find out it's why they are getting paid!
One of the points I was making is that "some" agents do not bother to check on such matters and/or they are not going to bring it up. Revelation of that kind of information can open a can of worms, so some don't want to go there. (Don't want to paint all agents the same.)

Since the agent won't/may not bring it up, the buyer should ask the agent to confirm that permits were issued where they were required or the buyer should check before agreeing to write a contract for purchase. There are listings online whose descriptions indicate "renovation from top to bottom" or something similar. When you check the permit history, no permits were issued, even though the county would have required them for the work. So buyer beware.

Also, when the agent is working with a client and in the course of negotiating it's determined that required permits were not obtained for the work, I think the seller will then be obligated to disclose that finding to future buyers. A real estate agent can correct me if I'm wrong and it likely depends on the jurisdiction.

In the meantime, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclope...your-home.html

"Once you know that unpermitted construction was done on your home, you must, by law, disclose the issue to all potential buyers. You'll most likely do this on a state-specific disclosure statement, which typically (in most states) asks the seller to report any known legal issues or unpermitted construction on the property. See "Required Disclosures When Selling U.S. Real Estate" for more information.

Also, your published listing (on the MLS or within other marketing materials) should clearly indicate if there is an unpermitted area of the house (such as "one bedroom plus unpermitted second bedroom)."
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