Problems with Unpermitted Work

Posted by Justin Havre on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 at 5:11pm.

Why Get Worked Up About Unpermitted WorkIt may not be obvious to a home inspector that unpermitted work exists prior to the purchase of a home. Some projects lie behind walls or other areas not easy to access or hard to observe. Even though sellers should be disclosing any projects that were performed without necessary licensing and permits, this does not always occur and the seller may be unaware that such issues exist. This still places a homeowner in a stressful situation when they uncover such work on their own. Should a homeowner leave the work as-is or take steps to remediate the problem?

Homeowners In for a Surprise

Sellers are under the obligation of disclosing unpermitted work to potential buyers. However, there are cases when unpermitted upgrades and structural changes were performed without necessary approval and licenses and the information were not provided to sellers. Those in the midst of a renovation may have to halt work in order to get necessary permits or even take down existing unpermitted improvements.

Finding unpermitted work can cost Westbank Centre homeowners time and money as they may attempt to get retroactive permits, work with previous owners or take down upgrades that do not meet necessary codes. In addition, some choose to leave the work as it stands and not get the permit(s) required. This may make it difficult when it comes time to sell a home, as the owner is aware of the situation, must disclose it to potential buyers and may have to sell a home for less than its value. Finally, unpermitted work may place occupants at higher risk of injury. Safety hazards appear significantly more likely for work without a license or proper permits.

Who Is Responsible for Unpermitted Work?

Homeowners are essentially the party responsible for such work. When working with a licensed contractor they should make sure that the contractor will get necessary permits for work. A homeowner can also get the permits for work performed but it may be easier for the contractor to do so as they may be more familiar with the process. Unpermitted work can be found in existing homes and in new construction and some contractors may not attend to getting permits even when obligated in a contract to do so.

Know More About Canadian Building Permits

Look into the building codes in one's province before tacking a major renovation. Building permits are often required when it comes to load-bearing structures, such as additions and decks. In addition, a permit may be necessary when it comes to changes to plumping, electrical work, heating systems and more. A Canadian homeowner may need to correct deficiencies. In such cases, it may be necessary to show project drawings for approval at a municipal building permit office and schedule on-site visits for final approval. Even though a property owner is responsible for work performed on a structure, other parties may be held accountable for unpermitted work that occurred in the past.

Options for Homeowners

Check the province for more information and potential options for recourse. In some instances, vendors, builders, engineers and other parties may be held responsible, as in the case with work defects. However, a relatively short timeframe may apply to these situations. It may be necessary to remediate electrical issues or problems with load-bearing structures personally and seek out required permits in order to reduce potential hazards and personal liability should someone get injured on a homeowner's property.

Justin Havre

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