Buying Home Without Building Permits

Buying Home Without Proper Building And Construction Permits

Gustan Cho Associates are mortgage brokers licensed in 48 states

This article is about Buying Home Without Proper Building And Construction Permits

When shopping for a home, buyers will run into situations where the property they want to place an offer has many renovations that were done without Proper Building And Construction Permits.

  • Remodeling kitchens and bathrooms without Proper Building And Construction Permits are no big deal
  • However, there are homes that had full renovations without Proper Building And Construction Permits

Typical Renovations Done Without Building Permits

Here are some examples of buying a home where home sellers have done without Proper Construction Permits:

  • Renovated a basement and/or attic into a recreation area where is now living space
  • Renovated basement or attic into an in-law apartment with a functional full bathroom and full kitchen
  • Opened up the attic and installed a dormer where the square footage of the home is now substantially larger

Adding additional bathrooms and bedrooms.

Laws And Consequences Of Renovating Without Proper Building And Construction Permits

Besides buying a home without proper building and construction permits, many homebuyers have grand plans of decorating and remodeling their newly purchased home after their close.

  • Some home buyers who have recently closed on their new home purchase decide to remodel their home prior to moving in

Common Renovations By Homeowners

Basic remodeling such as the following does not require permits or even if it does, most homeowners do not get building permits:

  1. Painting
  2. New Appliances
  3. New flooring
  4. Remodeling Kitchens and Bathrooms
  5. Exterior remodeling such as painting, siding, landscaping
  6. Driveway remodeling
  7. Small one level decks and porches
  8. New windows
  9. Sofits/Fascia/Gutters/Downspouts
  10. New Doors/Millwork

Many Homeowners Renovate Homes Without Permits

However, many homeowners knowingly do repairs and major renovations to their home without proper building and construction permits:

  • Remodeling can be basic such as painting the interior and/or the exterior or interior of their home
  • Or it can be more extensive such as remodeling the kitchen, bathroom, or converting an unfinished attic or basement
  • Basic remodeling such as painting does not require building and construction permits from the city or county building departments
  • However, building and construction permits may be required if major electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work is involved as well as structural changes to the home
  • Although doing a complete remodel on a kitchen may be basic, the city or county may require that homeowners pull a permit

The building department normally requires electricians and plumbers who work on a property to be licensed and bonded.

Remodeling Home And Permit Requirements

These days, almost every remodeling project requires getting a permit.  Most homeowners disregard this and just do the work without getting building permits. City and/or County Building Departments get a large portion of their revenues from issuing building permits as well as levying fines for homeowners caught doing remodeling without permits.

The county or city building department may even ask homeowners for architectural drawings along with license and bonding information for electricians, plumbers, and heating and air conditioning technicians.

What Happens If I Do Not Get A Building And Construction Permits

Although the county and city may require building and construction permits to remodel kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and attics, many homeowners just do these projects and do not get the required permits.

  • In the event homeowners get caught doing such work without obtaining the proper building and construction permit, the city or county can do a stop order
  • Homeowners will not go to jail
  • However, homeowners will be required to get the proper building and construction permits before they are able to restart work again
  • The city or county building department may impose a fine for doing work without the proper permits

Most of the time the way the city or county building departments find out is because a disgruntled neighbor calls the building department to complain about construction debris in the yard or due to noise.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Obtaining Building And Construction Permit

What Happens If I Do Not Get A Building And Construction Permits

City and county building departments have two main goals in issuing and requiring building and construction permits.

  • First, it is a safety issue and the government want to make sure that all work is done per code and there is no safety issues
  • I totally agree and recommend that homeowners get proper building and construction permits especially when there is electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work involved
  • Secondly, building and construction permits cost money and it is a revenue source for the city or county
  • Whenever there is a permit taken out and major improvements are done to a particular property, the value of the home increases
  • With increased property values means higher property taxes which mean more revenue to the government

It is up to the homeowner whether they want to chance to do construction on their new home without getting the proper required building and construction permit.

Buying Home With Illegal Basement Apartment In Chicago

The City of Chicago, Illinois has many two-unit buildings.

  • Home Buyers buying a two to a four-unit building in Chicago will most likely run into a situation where there is a basement that has been converted into an illegal basement apartment
  • By illegal, it means that the unfinished basement has been converted to a basement apartment without permits
  • The City of Chicago Building Department normally ignores this and does not enforce it
  • However, there are some mortgage lenders that will have issues when a home buyer buys a two to four-unit building with an illegal basement apartment
  • Home Buyers can get 2 to 4 unit mortgage loans with illegal basement apartments
  • Worse comes to worst, the appraiser will require that the plumbing of the kitchen be disconnected and will classify it as a finished recreation room

Home Buyers who need to qualify for a mortgage with a property that has been renovated without proper building and construction permits, please contact us at Gustan Cho Associates at 800-900-8569 or email us at We are available 7 days a week, evenings, weekends, and holidays.

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