I'm constantly getting emails from people asking why I harp on the lack of permits on the houses I review so I thought I'd explain my reasoning.
Why Permits Are So Important.
1. Its the law!! This should be a duh kinda thing but people don't seem to care that they are breaking the law when they do certain kinds of work on their houses without permits. Sure they are saving themselves some money and some hassle but its not worth the trade-offs.
2. Any work done without permits can not legally add to the value of the house. You converted your attic into a fabulous master suite without permits? So what, its not legal living space and can not count in an appraisers view of the house...and that house has to appraise out if you want to sell it.
3. Insurance companies don't cover losses on unpermitted work. If you don't think your average insurance company is looking for ANY reason to deny your claims you are sadly naive. Heaven forbid that your unpermitted electrical work causes a fire and burns down your house...your insurance company won't pay you a dime. This reason alone should make people never want to buy a house with extensive unpermitted work. Go ahead, call your insurance agent and ask him/her what the companies policy is regarding unpermitted work. I'll buy everybody an icecream cone at Tuckers who can get their agent to say in writing that unpermitted work will be covered.
4. Its not safe. With out the benefits of inspections you have no way of knowing if the work was done up to code, better than code, or waaaaaaaay below code. Having the work inspected is no absolute guarantee that the work is of high quality but it should guarantee a minimum standard. How do you know that you won't get electrocuted in the shower or that your furnace is not slowly killing you with carbon monoxide? You can't! and its hopelessly naive to think that, 'most work done with out permits is better than code.' Which is what the realtor showing 1417 Central actually told me!?!?!?!!?!?
5. If you get narc'd on and the city decides to take a hard line they will force you to remove all the unpermitted work, pay fines, pay the permit fees and then pay to have the work done legally! If you don't think that's like 4x as expensive and 10x the hassle of just doing it right the first time you are sadly mistaken.
#4 and #3 Really pertains to the house I recently reviewed on Central.
So that's why I harp on unpermitted work.
One thing that bugs me about people dodging permits is I think that they are trying to get out of paying their correct property taxes. If you do a lot of work on your house the assessor is going to revalue your house and the property taxes are going to increase. People do not want to pay more taxes so they try to cheat. Man, just in my neighborhood there are a multitude of illegal duplex's that if they were legalized would increase their property taxes. I wonder, if across California if all the people cheating on their property taxes where made to pay their fair share how much effect that would have our current budget crisis...?
Can y'all think of any other reasons I might of missed?