Let’s first tackle the reasons why some homeowners do not obtain permits. Three main reasons come to mind. First, the homeowner is not aware that a permit needs to be pulled. This assumes the homeowner is performing the work themselves. Second, the Contractor performing the work does not pull the permit and the homeowner is unaware it is required. Third, the homeowner does not want their property assessment to increase which ultimately increases their taxes.
So, why pull a permit if work is being done?
* It is required – that is a simple reason.
*When you eventually sell your home, if you want to highlight all those wonderful updates and renovations, any good Buyers Agent and Buyer should take themselves down to the Town Hall and review the file for your property at the Building Department and make sure all applicable permits were pulled and signed off on. I do this for any Buyers I am working with. Now, in a competitive market, that favors Sellers, Buyers may need to overlook this or risk losing a property, but the Buyer should at least know if permits were pulled
*It creates a record that the work was done and when it was done. Often helpful when memories get fuzzy. Exactly, when was that roof replaced or that water heater replaced?
*It protects you, the homeowner. If the work needs to be inspected, it gets inspected. Sometimes, Contractors do not want to deal with the extra steps of pulling permits and having the work inspected. Fair enough. Does this make those Contractors less reputable? Most likely not. Might a Contractor charge more for the extra steps and time involved in pulling permits and having the work inspected? They should.
*If you have an insurance claim and the insurance company determines there was unpermitted work they can deny your claim.
*When a house is new to the market, the Assessors Office and Building Department sometimes cross reference the Listing Details against their records. If Assessor’s Office sees a discrepancy, they may increase the assessed value. If the Building Department finds unpermited work then may require you to pull a permit and have the work inspected or work case scenario have the work torn out.
Pulling permits keeps everyone honest. There is a record that the work was done. The work gets inspected and signed off on. When the homeowner eventually sells, the buyer can know the work was done appropriately. Can this be a hassle? Yes. Although not pulling permits in the long run often causes more issues than it solves
Doug McNeilly is a REALTOR® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Wayland, Massachusetts. He specializes in Wayland, Sudbury and the Greater Boston Metro West Area. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dougmcneillyhomes.com