My wife and I bought a new house with an unfinished basement because
the builder wanted 25K to put in just a some basics. They did do the
rough in for a bathroom. We ended up spending about 15K after we
moved in and paid cash to a plumber and a carpenter to get a nice
large bathroom, a small bedroom and a rec room with a wet bar. My
father-in-law is a retired electrical engineer and he and I did all
the wiring. I never got any permits for any of this stuff but it was
done by professionals according to local building codes. My question
is can I now go somewhere to get after the fact permits and
inspections or are we in trouble with the local authorities and should
just keep quiet. Everything is working great and has been for the
last 3 years. Thanks.
I don't know where you live, but in New Jersey this issue usually comes up
when the house is sold. The inspectors want to see everything that wasn't
inspected at the time of construction. I know of at least two instances
where the electrical inspector wanted all of the electrical boxes opened up
and wanted all of the wires meggered by a testing agency. Of course the
sellers are usually responsible for getting all of this done. I suppose
some localities may impose fines as well.
There is also a liability issue. If you have a fire, your insurance company
may not pay for damages since the work was never approved. I had one
customer who bought a house from a do-it-yourselfer and had an electrical
fire. Even though they were not responsible for the work, they got nothing
from their insurance company. It was up to them to sue the previous owner
for damages. Also, the mortgage holder on your house may seek damages from
you since technically they own the property until it is paid off.
In my opinion it is never worth it to bypass the legal system as it usually
comes back to bite you where it hurts.
I'll start by saying not getting the permits to start with was foolish
for a number of reasons. Save a penny then pay a dollar later. BTW I would
worry about any professional who would do a non-permitted job.
OK, well no one can tell you what you want to know since it goes from
one extreme to the other depending on the locality where you live. You need
to find out locally. You could call the local office administering permits
and see what they say. You could contact an attorney to see what they say.
You could have a lot of money riding on this, I suggest you take care of
it and check out your options before taking any action, which it sounds like
you are trying to do now.
If it's all done, I wouldn't do anything at this point. The only
times the municipality may find it would be when you need a CO or they
do a property revaluation. The downside is depending on what they
find, what they can see without tearing things apart, etc, you could
have some big problems. The issue is inspection is supposed to be
done at various stages, while the work is visible, before be covered
I read all these doom and gloom scenarios. I've been a homeowner for 38
years in two different states. I've done plumbing, electrical, interior
remodeling, replaced a deck, etc. Never got a permit except for when the
electrical service was upgraded. No one have ever questioned anything, done
an inspection during re-evaluation, check things at time of sale or
purchase. Everything is done to code so I don't worry about tragedy from
failure any more than any pro work.
When I had a new roof put on, the contractor got a permit. No one ever came
around to check anything, just took the $25. I'm going to put up a shed and
it requires a permit and I will get one. It will also comply with
regulations as to setback from property lines.
Soon there will be guys in brown shirts following you as you leave the Home
Depot and arrest you when you put in a new faucet.
In your case, I'd go to bed tonight and sleep well.
Just go get an inspector and pay him the pittance it takes,
to inspect and sign off on the plumbing and wiring. Then
you'll at least have the backup you need to show that the
work met codes and was signed off by legit inspectors.
In my experience, when they discover something "new",
they inspect it. If it meets, great. If it doesn't meet,
tear it out. After that it takes court actions.
This is upstate NY. Also lived in Chgo. Never got a permit
for basement wiring/plumbing, but did get a city inspector
out to sign off on the stuff., Never heard a whimper from
anyone about anything and made no secret of it.
One other thing you might want to take into
consideration: House Insurance claims can be a problem if
there turns out to be non-code work done. And, it's
non-code until it's inspected and approved, whether it was
"done to" code or not. AFTER the fire, it's pretty hard to
tell what's what. That's IL, > 12 years ago, I think.\
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