Monday, March 17, 2008

Are You Permitted?

"Don't pull permits, it will just drive your property taxes up." "Why get permits? It's not like anyone is going to come out for an inspection anyway." "I don't typically pull permits for my work because it takes too much time, it's too much trouble and it just ends up being an extra expense to you." Has anyone ever said anything like this to you? None of these comments are totally without basis. But none of these comments are necessarily well guided either.

Many times, the "party line" on the purpose of building permits and zoning regulations includes terms like "public safety," "public health," "life safety," "conservation," or even "property value," but let's take a minute to consider why proper permitting is important from a slightly different angle. As you enter the planning stages of your upcoming Renovation project, don't think of permits in terms of scheduling or budget, but look beyond to re-sale or re-financing or even estate planning.

When it comes time to sell or re-finance your home one or more appraisers is likely to get involved. If you've completed a Renovation project that has added significant and most likely very valuable, square footage to your home, what will the appraisers find when they search the public record for the recorded square footage of your home? If permits weren't secured for your project, that new kitchen expansion which was supposed to be the major selling point of your home, may not figure into the appraised value. If you live in an historic area and didn't receive a Certificate of Appropriateness for your project, matters could be complicated even more. If your Renovation project violates a setback requirement or an easement and you didn't go through proper Zoning or Variance procedures, extreme measures could be required to rectify the deed. Any one of these scenarios could easily derail the sale or re-financing of your home or the distribution of your estate.

To be honest, many Renovation projects are completed, homes sold, financed and re-financed without a hitch and without going through proper permitting processes. But the next time that you undertake a major project and someone suggests foregoing proper approvals, seek out better advice and the expertise of a qualified professional that can guide you through the proper channels. After all, delays, fines and penalties could be the least of your worries.

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