Any risk in buying a house with finished basement without permit -Please advise

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On 12 Nov 2003, Basha wrote:

I didn't sift through all of the sub-replies, just the top level. In case nobody mentioned these things:
1) The need for "permits" varies in every single municipality in the land. Some require a permit for everything, some have a specific list of projects, some classify need based on "changing the structural integrity..." or some similar wording. Check with your muni, that's the ONLY safe way to answer that.
2) As others have pointed out, don't confuse permits with the quality/safeness of the work. It may still be OK, you need an inspection to tell you that.
3) That's a lot of living space, and you can almost bet that it's not documented for tax assessment purposes. Count on the taxes going WAY up after the cat is out of the bag.
HTH.
--
Baisez-les s'ils ne peuvent pas prendre une plaisanterie
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Sounds too much like what a certain relative of mine did...their new house's basement and roof leak and rather than fight with the builder, they finished the basement themselves, and covered the water damage stains, etc. They are planning on selling without disclosure, and now deny, even to family members who are well aware of all this, that it ever happened. In some areas codes are not really enforced, but lenders may feel otherwise about accepting this. It is up to you but at least get an inspection. Good luck, hope you find a good house soon.
Basha snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Basha) wrote in message

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--
The admission of ignorance is the first step on the road to knowledge.
The beginning of understanding is an open mind.
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Thanks for all your comments.
The first step I am going to do today is going to the muncipal office and enquire about this. I will also talk to one of the city inspectors.
I will post the happenings.
Thanks again.
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OK. I went to the city office directly and talked to one of the inspectors and few other guys in community development, construction and engineering dept. They said, once the construction is done they are not going to give any permit and they are not going to come to the house to check it. They also said the previous owner completed the basement and may not have reported to city to save some taxes. I asked is part of the house "ILLEGAL". They said it is not called illegal but improper, also said there are quiet a no of people who don't report their enhancements to their houses which may involve adding a bathroom or bedroom etc. The risk is whether they have done the proper electic and plumbing work or not. I asked him how to ensure whether it is done in a proper way. He told me it is very difficult to find out once it is done. It may involve tearingup the sheets covering the electric and plumbing work. He also advised me to ask the seller to put a $10k in an escrow account which cover up the costs if anything happens in the next 3 or 5 years. If nothing happens at the end of 3 or 5 years, seller will get the money back.
Anyways, my realtor brought a market analysis of the houses in this area (Plymouth, Minnesota) and we came to an amount which we can offer. We offred the seller 5k more than the average selling price and also I bear all the minor repairs in the house. The average price is 20k less than the seller's list price. Repairs in the house are: One of the closet door broke may need a replacement, all the sloset doors are stick to the carpet and are difficult to open and they may need a half inch cut at the bottom of the doors. Family room doesn't have the the air intake, hot air comes from the furnace but there is no vent to take the air from that room. It's a closed room. Back side of the house some of the vinyl sheets came out of the wall. It needs a fix and there are many other small things. Those I can do myself. (My realtor said the total may cost around $3000). 2 days back we bid with condition-asking the seller to put the money $10k in escrow account. Seller rejected the bid asking $10k more and didn't like the condition of keeping the money in escrow account.
That's what happend in the last week.
The house is 1994 built, split level completely finished (2260sft) in Plymouth, Minnesota. (suburb of Minneapolis)
-Basha
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On 17 Nov 2003 11:26:50 -0800, someone wrote:

inspector.
Chances slim to none that any seller would agree to skip $10,000 for 3 to 5 years, based on the buyer not coming up with "ANYTHING" in that time. What a crock of bull, you showed yourself to be a fool if you tried to impose this under those circumstances.
(BTW, what did your bank think of the $10k escrow? Or didn't you ask them yet.)
-v.
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v wrote:

You're just full of yourself aren't you? It must be an awesome task to be omniscient. "The seller won't do this". "The seller won't agree to that". You should write some books to share your amazing grasp on human behaviour.
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On 17 Nov 2003 11:26:50 -0800, Basha snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Basha) wrote:

No matter WHAT happens in the basement?...and no matter WHAT causes the damage? Would YOU agree to such a thing?
1. If its CERTAIN that yer gonna be the only bidder on that house in the next 3-5 years, then that proposal MIGHT fly! If not, he'd be just as well off just keeping it listed...and taking his chances.
2. If he's mentally incompetent to sell the house, he may indeed go with that idea. I don't think anyone in his right mind would go for it, however.

A market analysis is interesting to look at. Other than that, it has no real value to the buyer. The seller MIGHT have looked at one before he listed...or even did one of his own. But the buyer usually buys the house thru emotion...or that of the spouse.
If you want the house bad enough...and if you don't piss off the seller so that he won't sell to you...you'll buy the house.

If he would have accepted, I would have been REALLY worried if I were you! lol

$10k more than WHAT?. I lost track! lol
What amount is on the table? What's the offered selling price now?

No sane person would...who has an otherwise saleable property. You can buy extra insurance if you think this may be a problem.

If yer SERIOUS about buying this house...and are not just posting here for your health...and all those minor problems are the only problems you could find...and you REALLY want the house...then...
I'd buy the house. Life is a crap shoot, anyway. The homeowner seems to be conscientious.
Yer there...and its your money! So...you decide.
Have a nice week...
Trent
Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity!
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Just some friendly advice:
Real estate people don't give reliable estimates of what repairs will cost. Especially when you are the buyer, and the recipient of these estimates. It's not their area of expertise, really, but they do have ample motivation to answer those questions and smooth things over. $3000 may cover it, maybe only if done poorly by a very low quality contractor. It may not even cover it then. Also, asking a seller to throw $10k in escrow against unknown problems is pretty wishful thinking - think about it, given reversed roles, would you be willing to do it? There's always someone, somewhere, who will buy as is.
The bottom line is that any house is a risk. Even one unmodified by the owner, in apparently good shape could have killer black mold hanging around somewhere waiting to bloom. You'll drive yourself nuts trying to cover every liability. In the end, you have to seek trusted advice about what real problems the house has, use your own eyes, and make a decision. Find or hire an independant handyman, and pay to have him estimate the work that needs to be done - then you know, and you have a somewhat documented case for adjusting the price to cover repairs. Also, the handyman/contractor's advice about the house would be a valuable addition to the inspector's. Inspector's are good for checking some major things, and certain safety things, but they miss some very obvious things you will end up having to fix.
Just remember, when you are the buyer, and the agent says "Oh, that? That's no problem!" they really mean "Oh, that? That's no problem....for me!"

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Hi, WOW! This thread drags on so LONG. As a seller, if he did not hide anything from buyer, he did his job. As a buyer, if you want to buy after collecting all the info and inspection of the house, just make a conditional offer. Then you two negotiate, if it does not work out, go find another house. Or build a house to your heart's content like I did. That is not the only house you can buy. If you like that house SO much, then by all means, buy it and take the consequences. Let's move on. Tony
Steve wrote:

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Speaking from experience: My current house had a third bedroom added and a garage finished into living space and a new garage built without permits (at least that I can tell). All done by a DIY'er. It even made it into a national magazine as a model project. THings that were done wrong: Grade raised above the top of foundation, Hot and Nuetral reversed in the garage refinish, Skylights installed wrong, Bay windows installed wrong, THe upgrage to 100 amp service did not upgrade the wire leading to the house (so it burnt out when I turned the AC on), Roof flashing installed wrong, septic tank sized for a 2 bedroom house, high effiency furnace with no flue liner, lack of GFI's, radiant heating system incorrectly installed. I could go on but I'm too busy scratching my head on why some things were done.
Don't get me wrong, I love my house and am slowly correcting things but the home inspection only caught 2 of the issues. Proper permits and inspections would have found most of them. Flags should go up if the work was done by a DIY'er and a more thorough inspection performed. My bank did not even care if there were permits for past work.

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On 12 Nov 2003 11:14:15 -0800, Basha snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Basha) wrote:

1. What kind of risk are you talking about?
2. How old is the house? How old is the city?
Have a nice week...
Trent
Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity!
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Basha wrote:

I would contact the local building inspection department to see if there is any way to have it inspected after the fact. If there is, insist that the seller do this, and correct any violations, before you close. If not, insist that the seller pay to have the basement checked out by a qualified building inspector and pay for any safety problems uncovered.
Chuck
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Having just sold and bought a house, the buyer pays for any inspection that he wants. The seller's obligation is to disclose truthfully what he knows about the property.
At least around here that is the how it is done.
--
Ron
Port Dover Ontario
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Ron wrote:

If finishing the basement requires a permit and the seller did so without one then what they have done is ILLEGAL. This could create a mess for the buyer. In a situation like this it should be up to the seller to prove that the improvements were done safely.
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It may be against the town's regulations, but it is hardly "ILLEGAL." It's about as illegal as speeding.
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said...

Actually, IF work was done, that required proper permits, and they were NOT pulled, then, the local jurisdiction CAN have the work removed....fines will be issued in the least...here it is twice the original amount. IF the work was done by a non licenced person, in the event that a licenced person was required to do it, and no permits (of course) pulled, then the person that actually did the work can be hit with a felony charge, and jail time. Happens ALL the time in areas that follow the law...particularly here...in his particular area, it might not be the case.
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Brad wrote:

I'd love to be in the courtroom when you try to use that kind of argument.
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C G wrote:

Some folks have very interesting attitude towards law/regulations. Maybe law is there because of people like that. Very funny! Tony
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On Sat, 15 Nov 2003 01:46:53 GMT, someone wrote:

Here at my office, my landlord got summonsed in to court for letting me move in before the handicapped rails were installed in the bathroom!!!!
-v.
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