What to Do About Unpermitted Work
Some homeowners have work done without knowing the permitting rules that apply to them before it's too late. In other cases, a homeowner will decide that the work is insignificant enough that they can sneak by without the permit. In still others, unscrupulous contractors will do work on a house without pulling the right permits and leave the homeowner in the lurch. The end result is the same no matter what: the owner of the home is in a precarious condition until they have gotten right with their municipality and county about work that wasn't properly permitted, whether you live in the Durango Resort Area or elsewhere.
Why Address Unpermitted Work?
Confessing to having work done without permits can seem a little counterintuitive. Wouldn't it be better to leave well enough alone? While many people never discuss the unpermitted work they have done and never suffer any problems because of it, in other cases, work done without permits can come back to haunt you later.
If you decide to sell your home, any unpermitted work will likely be discovered during the closing process. This can cost you thousands off a buyer's offer or even prevent a sale from occurring. If a city or county worker discovers the unpermitted work, you could be subject to fines and have to have it removed. When this occurs at a time you do not expect it, it can be inconvenient and costly. Finally, if a fire or flood affects an unpermitted area of your home, your insurance company may deny any claims associated with the damage. Your costs could wind up being far higher than the cost of the permit in the first place.
How Do You Address Unpermitted Work?
In most cases, it is as simple as going to the relevant city or county office and asking to talk to someone in code enforcement. They will have dealt with other homeowners with unpermitted work and will know the necessary steps.
In most areas, the city wants to help homeowners. Unpermitted work can hinder a home sale later on, and they want it to be easy for new residents to move into the city. Additionally, they'll be happy to reclaim the revenue that they did not get from permitting fees when the work was first done.
What Are the Consequences When Unpermitted Work Is Discovered?
The chances are good that your local government will be more likely to work with you if you disclose the unpermitted work yourself than if it is found during an inspection. In most cases, you will have to pay the permitting fee and a small fine. The fine is often about equal to the cost of the original permit.
If the work is deemed not up to code, you may have to remove any improvements that were made. Discuss any work that you had done to the house with a licensed contractor to learn whether your work meets the requirements of current building codes.
In some cases, such as electrical or plumbing improvements, city inspectors may have to look over the work before they can give after-the-fact approval. This may involve the removal of paneling or drywall so that they can get to the area that was completed.
Addressing work done without a permit can be intimidating. However, handling the problem on your own terms and your own timeline can save you money and headaches later on.