Home inspectors

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Home Inspectors Caution Against Unpermitted Additions

March 8, 2000 (San Diego, Calif) The California Real Estate Inspection Association advise homeowners and potential homebuyers to exercise caution regarding unpermitted additions to a home.

Many property owners have avoided the standard building permit process when embarking upon additions. The three most common reasons for such avoidance are:

1) Some homeowners wish to make structural improvements to their properties, while avoiding costly municipal assessments; 2) Some owners seek to improve their properties but are afraid of the bureaucratic steps through which they might be obliged to jump in order to satisfying code requirements; and 3) A misguided few are determined to make substandard building alterations, which would be denied outright by the local authorities, regardless of the number of step the applicant might be willing to engage.

The main problem with "boot-legged" additions is that they are illegal and must be disclosed to prospective buyers. Inspection, correction, and municipal approval are the only procedure by which it can be legitimized. A qualified home inspector will recommend that application be made to the county for an "as-built permit."

As-built permits have become an increasingly popular method of last resort for "confession and correction". Once you begin to initiate this process, it must be completed.

If repair requirements become too costly or complicated, there is no other choice but to proceed. The as-built permit cannot be canceled. As the process unfolds, you may be required to expose internal portions of the construction for inspection and analysis. This could mean excavating sections of the foundation, opening walls, ceilings, and roof surfaces for examination of the framing, waterproofing, plumbing, electrical wiring, insulation, etc. Conditions deemed to be in conflict with local building requirements would be subject to appropriate changes, and needed improvements could be costly. Furthermore, all fees applicable to new construction, such as assessments for local schools, public sewer lines, etc., would become due and payable. The possibility exists that the additions or alterations could be judged inappropriate to the property and summarily disallowed. In such cases, demolition or re-conversion could be mandated.