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What happens to a house that's been added on & there's no permits?

I bought a house many years ago when i was young & didn't know any better. The house I bought was built in 1945 & has been added onto from several different previous owners. Someone told me when he was looking up tax information on my house that it showed there's no permits. How can this house have been sold so many times with all these additions without permits. It's now a four bedroom 2 bath with a family room that's now 1950 sq ft.  Originally it was a 3 bdrm one back that was 1350 sq. ft. He kept questioning me why my house still says it's a 3 bdrm 1 bath. I don't know why it still says that, I haven't added anything on. He claims it's because the house doesn't have permits. What does this mean? Does this mean I have to tear out the additions even though I've lived here 20 years now? I've had a new roof & AC unit put in & got permits, so why wasn't something said to me from the city permit department. On zillow it also says my house is 3 bdrm 1 bath & shows what they think it's worth according to that.

9 Answers

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  • 1 month ago

    Many tax assesor sites will have the appraisal information which includes a drawing of the exterior walls.  What does your site show?

  • 1 month ago

    Don't trust Zillow to be accurate. It's not. 

    And what happened to your house before you bought it isn't relevant to what it is now. The reason your house shows up as it does on the property records is not the permitting department's fault either. It's the Real Estate Appraisal office's fault that they have not updated their records. You can call them and explain the situation, but this will result in you paying more property taxes--when there are additions, extra bedrooms, more square footage or other modifcations, they will have an appraiser come and look and add those things--and that will make your taxes go up. You're not going to have to tear out anything. 

    Permits don't COUNT any more after the property has already been modified--and many counties don't even keep records back that far. So stop worrying about permitting.  You got permits for your work.  You can't worry about what previous owners did or didn't do now. It doesn't matter. 

    The only thing you will need to worry about is the accuracy of your property records with the county. Go to the county or online to their website and contact them about the inaccuracies and when they have time they will probably fix the issue. However, expect your tax bill to rise accordingly. 

    Also note: most counties have hearings that homeowner's can attend that address these discrepancies.  Most of the homeowners who attend are doing so to LOWER their property taxes because of various things.  They are trying to DEvalue the house, not make the value higher. But If you are trying to sell your house, I would suggest getting the records corrected even if this happens. You may have a harder time selling if the records are NOT correct. It will result in many delays or problems with agents, buyers and county officials. 

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    This is a matter your lawyer should, and probably did, look into when you purchased the property. Lawyers have a duty to ensure that no future problems can arise from the purchase. Anyway who is this 'someone' that's poking their nose into your business? If he is a tax official you will have to agree to change the description. If he isn't tell him to take a hike. In any event time has passed so the alterations can't be be challenged. 

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    First off, the house WAS built to code.  All houses are built to code, or they could not have been built.  The only thing that may not be built to code might be an addition, and just because it was built without a permit, does not mean it was not built to code.  We built an addition.  We were ripped off by someone who claimed to have worked for the county and knew how to get plans approved the first time, so we hired an architect, had plans drawn up and this louse submitted them.  Six attempts and thousands of dollars later including an initial $300 bonus for getting it all done right (which was WRONG, over and over again), we finally went to the county ourselves and learned how messed up it was and fixing one thing each time still left several other issues. This louse was a con-artist.  We were so fed up, we had it built without a permit and we built it TO CODE, and the insulation was BETTER than code.   No permits - no problem.  If you find the work shoddy, you can have it redone right or get a permit to tear it out and redo it - your choice.  The permits ensure that the building will be to code, but lack of them do not mean that the building was not built to code.  It just means that you don't know, unless you know.  When you buy a house, it is your responsibility to inspect it.  It is not the seller's responsibility to update you on what is the original build, what's an addition, what was done every year, how times it was painted, etc.  All they or a realtor does is present you with the "house for sale".  If you have questions, you are expected to ask.

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  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Look, this happens a lot and its not really clear any permits were missing, its quite possible the county records are wrong (and also quite possible that the permits were ignored, just impossible to say at this point).  Anyhow, who cares. If you have been there 20 years, then nothing is likely to happen. If the taxing authority figres this out, they may or may not want to inspect everything, but all they are likely to do is raise your taxes. When you go to sell the place, the real esate agent will list everything correctly, and any buyers won't check or care about possible permitting issues from over 20 years ago, regardless.

    Forget it, it's been 20 years. Nobody cares about this anymore and since the possible addtions are at least 20 years old it appears all the work was done fine.

    Oh, and tell your "friend" to f*** off.

    By the way, i buy a lot of houses and I'd say about half of them have issues like this (and 75% of them when I'm finished with them - if you get what I'm saying here).

    Also, the reason the former owners may not have gotten permits is because city inspectors are annoying and pretend there are problems which really don't exist and anyone who has ever worked with city inspectors would have to be brain dead to get a permit when they can get by without one.

    One more thing. If a city inspector does come by asking more questions then I'd flat out refuse to even discuss it and tell them if they would like to enter your house to check things out then they need to get a search warrant or otherwise they cannot enter your house.  

    Never, never, never invite a city inspector into your house.  You are shooting yourself in the foot.

  • 1 month ago

    Zillow is not accurate anyway.  There may have been no permits because at the time of an addition they were not required for the work being done.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    SMH, NO, not ALL houses are built  to code...seriously!  and NO, lawyers don't look into things like permits, they just  handle the sales contract.

    if the additions were not built to code at that time, yes you may need to tear them down. usually, towns will allow it, sometimes with upgrades to current code.  it was no one else's job  to say something to you, it was your adult responsibility to ask.

  • Maxi
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    Normally you would have to pay and apply for retropective permits...however this can be expensive and if they refuse you woud have to 'put the house  back' to pre permit standard at your own cost........... I agree with you "how can a property be sold legally without permits for the extentions".... comes down to bad legal advisors not doing the job they are paid to do

  • 1 month ago

    If this 'person' represents the city tax department, it could mean that you will higher taxes in the future.  Other than that, your life will go one the same as usual.  Even if your additions were on your neighbor's property , after that amount of time with no objection you would have the right to leave it there.

    If this person is neighbor, they seem intent on causing trouble and worrying you. 

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