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Question DetailsAsked on 10/5/2011

Can we get a building permit after a room addition was built by a contractor?

We had a room added to our mobile home but the construction firm did not get a building permit. Can we get the firm to get a permit retroactively? In the meantime, our appraisal went down, possibly because of this. What should we do?

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7 Answers

Voted Best Answer

Yes, but you won't like what will probably happen (this is a worst case scenario, hopefully you will avoid most):

The purpose for a building permit is to ensure meeting the minimum standards for construction practices and minimum safety standards. A contractor who works without a permit, does so because they know they are not in compliance (and to save money at your expense). They knew they should have had inspections and permits for their work. Who ever built the addition should be reported to both the building official as well as the Better Business Bureau. It is ultimately the homeowner who is responsible for ensuring the proper permits have been applied for, though.

So when you apply for your permit, you will be pretending as if the work is not completed (you do not hide this fact, you just have to follow the correct process as if it hadn't been built). Your first stop will be with zoning; can you even add an addition, do you have the proper clearances from the side, front and rear property lines. If it is a bedroom, does the septic system (perk test) support an additional bedroom. If your building already meets or exceeds the amount of building allowed on the site or if you do not have the clearances required from the property line, your addition may be required to be removed. There are appeal processes and variance requests you can try before tearing down the addition (Get an architect).

If your zoning review is fine, next you go to permitting. Here you will submit plans (drawings) of what was built. If you do not have these plans, consider hiring an Architect to generate As-Built drawings for this use. Hopefully the plan review comes back with no changes, or you will alread know your addition is not in compliance and may face rebuilding. Depending on the type of construction, your zoning and your local building requirements, you will be required to have inspections of your foundation / footings, the framing, the electrical, mechancial and HVAC systems, etc. affected by the work.

This may require digging the ground back up so the inspector can confirm foundation depth, size and draingage requirements. The interior wall finishes (gypsum board, panelling, etc) may have to be removed in some or all areas so the framing and electrical can be inspected (If one area fails, be prepared to pull all areas down). At each inspection, if the work is found to be lacking, then you will have to correct the work before getting permission to use the room. If there is an electrical or safety violation found, it is possible the Building Official could declare the entire property inhabitable until the offenses are corrected (IE you are homeless until it is fixed).

As you can see, you have to hope beyond belief that the builder constructed everything correctly and that the building officials will work with you to minimize the amount of deconstruction necessary to inspect the work.

Also, you will be charged all the fees associated with plan review and permitting, and you will be charged for each inspection visit (as your builder would have been charged initially had they followed the law).

As for value, here is the real concern: If your home burns down or faces some similar disaster, your home owners insurance will balk at paying; they will blame the illegal construction as the cause. As for the value of your building, not having a permit will make any buyer have a difficult time getting their own insurance, thus harder to sell. The room itself will add value to your property, if it isn't a hazard (IE permitted).

Also, taxes are based upon assessments, which use the land records. Building without a permit, can be seen by local officials as an attempt to avoid paying property taxes, since the land records do not show the addition. Until the official tax records reflect an accurate statement of your building, you may face fines, tax fees and other costs associated with the improvement depending upon how long it has been there unreported.

You may wish to contact a local, licensed Architect who works with the local building department. They will know the personel, know which forms you need to fill out first and how to protect you from an overzealous Building Official (there are exceptions and options within the Code that the Building Official may forget or ignore that an Architect can request be used to prevent tear down or damage). Next time you go to build get the Architect first to protect yourself from what this construction firm did to you.

Good luck!

Answered 8 years ago by Kenny Johnson


Yes you can apply for a building permit retroactively, but the town will charge you a penalty for the after the fact addition. Your town will probably require a blue print of your addition and a current survey of your home. They will want the room to be up to code so you may have to make modifications. You may also need a variance if you exceed the approved land area ratio for your area. I recommend that you use an expeditor that is familiar with your town. They should know the ins and outs of the town regulations and expeditie the whole process.

I hope you found this helpful, if you have anymore questions, my name is Sandra Riegel, Licensed Sales Agent for Re/Max Signature


Answered 8 years ago by sandyriegel


The other answers have lots of good information, which is only applicable in a certain jurisdiction, time, and situation. In my main jurisdiction, City of Houston, there is no fine for non-permitted construction, but you must go through the hoops as if you are building from scratch. You need to meet with the building official before you do anything to find what they require, requirements vary based on whether residential or commercial, easements, flooding, fire, more stuff than you know. Then decide if you can handle it yourself or need to hire someone.

Answered 8 years ago by iamgerardj


While there are local zoning requirements, the building Code is the International Residential Code (IRC) (It is the only Code allowed for Construction in the US) and each state will adopt a Uniform Building Code that is based upon the IRC and modifies this code to meet state performance issues. You specifically stated it was a home, so you would not need to worry about the Commercial Building Code (IBC).

Contrary to other posts, I would not recommend meeting with the Code Official (Building Inspector) prior to knowing what you will need. Once the Buidling Official takes a stance, and says what they want you to do, it is very difficult to get them to allow options or alternatives. A licensed design professional will know which permits are required, what options the Code allows and the process for appeals. Just as you would not walk into a court room without a lawyer, don't walk into the permit office without a knowledgable professional. The couple of hundred dollars you will spend to reimburse an architect for their time to review your building and meet with the building department could save you thousands of dollars in fees, inspections, and fines. The Permiting offices on the Northern East Coast often "require" drawings and calculations that are outside of the Code requirements, and when this is brought to their attention they will usually rescind their request. Without knowing this you may spend a lot of money getting drawings or calculations done that you don't actually need. Hire a pro.

You didn't mention how long ago your addition was made, but almost every jurisidiction I've worked in has charged fines for unpermited work, and any back taxes. In one case the home owner was also charged an 'assessment fee' for a drive by assessment to confirm the work. Hopefully your area will be more forgiving. Generally the Permit Office is very willing to work with you; you aren't the first, won't be the last. But they also need to generate revenue (fees) and justify their job, so we work with our clients to provide what is required, and to clarify anything additional that is requested.

Hire an architect, have them review the building and any plans you have. Then have them meet with the buidling official to confirm required permits and inspections. Peace of mind alone will be worth it. You can find an architect near you by going to the bottom of the website and choosing Archtiect Finder. Put in your zip code, and select a local firm. Good luck.


Answered 8 years ago by Kenny Johnson


Don't listen to anything SANDY RIEGEL has to say regarding property.
She is not a very good agent nore does she know anything about home repair or improvements. She has given me and my wife a lot of false confidance regarding permits in the Babylon Village. The Village requires many permits for things you and Sandy consider exempt or unnecessary.

Answered 7 years ago by leon


Who ever added this room on ,was to get the permit.. The inspector wil come out to check the work when it is done, to make sure they did it right and up to code. If they did one thing wrong, your property will go down. The reason for the permit is so the inspector will come to make sure. You should call the city and let them know he did not get the permit, and if you did not know they were to have one. Anyone that does construction work know they are to have a permit. They can be fined for not having one. I just went through that with the siding of my house. They had to go get the permit and the inspector showed up to make sure they did put everything on right, it did pass. But the inspector told us it was not are fault because the company doing the work knew he was to have one. He had to go to city hall and pay for the permit. So if I were you I would call city hall, if they don't so if their are any problems they can be fixed. Your choice. Good Luck


Answered 7 years ago by Guest_93493994


If it's already been done, why do you want a permit now?


Answered 6 years ago by Guest_9209816


Guest 9209816 - the reason for getting the permit is when you go to sell, or maybe at a periodic drive-by inspection by planning and zoning (orsimilar department) the addition that is not on the plat will come up. If found as part of an inspection, the fine is frequently much higher than if you get a retroactive permit.

Also, when you go to sell, the survey for the property transfer will show the added construction, and if it turn out it is not permitted can hold up the sale, or render it cancelable because you cannot effect transfer as contracted. Some mortgage lenders check permits on things that pop up on surveys that are not on the plat.

So - better to do as soon as possible rather than cross your fingers.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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