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Barry Stone: Sellers worried about failure to obtain permits

By Barry Stone, Certified Building Inspector Published: May 17, 2014

DEAR BARRY: We are trying to sell our home and are concerned about the various improvements we have done over the years without obtaining building permits. For example, last year we hired a handyman to install a new furnace, before that we installed new kitchen cabinets, and seven years ago we removed the bathroom window so that we could install a new shower. Will these be an issue when we sell the home?

— Shawn

DEAR SHAWN: When you sell your home, you will need to disclose the lack of permits to the buyers. Some buyers may accept these conditions as-is. Others may insist that you obtain as-built permits as a condition of the sale. And some may be unwilling to buy a home that has had unpermitted work.

One option is to obtain as-built permits before selling your home. This will enable you to eliminate issues that require disclosure. Here is how that approach would apply to the three issues that you listed.

Hiring an unlicensed person to install your furnace was not a good idea. There are too many ways to install a furnace incorrectly, and some of these could jeopardize the fire safety of your home or could allow combustion exhaust to vent into the building. Furnaces should always be installed by qualified professionals, and permits should be obtained so that the building inspector can verify proper installation.

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