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Residential Real Estate Buyers

How to avoid a remodeling nightmare

By February 19, 2020August 15th, 2023No Comments

Remodeling a home is a big deal. It can be expensive and disruptive. When you do it, you want to make sure you get it right.  

In a prevous blog I talked about how to pick a good contractor for your remodeling project.

Now, I want to talk to you about making sure you have the proper permit. If you don’t have it, you may end up having to tear everything out and start all over.

I know permits can be a hassle. Going down to city hall could feel like standing in line at the DMV (i.e. waiting for hours to fill out seemingly pointless paperwork).

You might deal with an inspector who insists that you submit ridiculously detailed drawing of your remodeling plans. You know, someone who seems intent on making everything more complicated.

I experienced this myself when I bought a house with an unfinished deck. I assumed I was free to finish the remodeling job so I did. But then I got a notice from the county that the prior owner never got a building permit.  

That was a sign of trouble. 

First, I had to apply for a permit that cost double. Then I had to measure the spaces between all the supports, and  submit a detailed drawing of the deck. They also made me figure out the exact wood that had been used. 

After a month of navigating this tedious red tape, I got so frustrated that I tore out the deck and replaced it with a small landing.

After I cooled off from my frustration, I realized that the compliance officer at the county was in a complicated position. An approved permit for the deck meant that it was safe to use. In their mind, they were protecting all the future users of the deck. That was why they needed to know exactly how it was constructed.

If you are using a contractor, it is still important to discuss permits with them. You should also get a copy of the permits. I’ve seen real estate deals fall apart when a buyer sees recent improvements, like a 3 season room or finished basement, does a permit search and finds out they were done without proper permits. Sometimes, the seller even had a contractor do the work and didn’t realize they never applied any permits.

The lesson here is that part of your remodeling planning process needs to include getting all the required permits. When it comes to building permits, permission beats forgiveness.

Adam Diamond Law works with sellers throughout McHenry County. We pride ourselves on performing excellent client service with open communication and transparency. If you would like to sell your home, call our office at (773) 217-9623 to schedule a consultation. 

Disclaimer:  This blog post is for informational purposes and is not intended to be legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship.  Every situation is unique and it is always best to review your individual situation with a local attorney to understand your options.

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