368. How To Sell A House With Unpermitted Work In Florida

We buy houses in Florida

We buy houses in Florida. You’ve been working so hard to get your Florida house ready to sell. You have replaced the roof, did a bathroom remodel, and now you’re putting the finishing touches on a fresh coat of paint. But did you make sure the work that was done didn’t need permits? We are your local Florida home buyers and we offer cash for houses in Florida.

Whether you just forgot or had hired someone to do the work and thought they would do it, having unpermitted work done to your home definitely puts you in a bind, especially when you’re about to sell your house. If you have found yourself in this situation, you can do a few things to address selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida. Let’s look at what unpermitted work in Florida is and what some of your options are when selling a house with unpermitted improvements.

House With Unpermitted Work In Florida

inspector inspecting a house with no permits for repairs

What is Unpermitted Work in Florida?

Unpermitted work in Florida is work that has been done to a property without getting proper permission or following guidelines required by the city or county you live in. Usually, each county has its own set of rules and regulations when it comes to building. The building permits are typically divided into categories of mechanical, electrical, structural changes or new construction.

Before applying for these permits, you should have plans drawn up that meet local codes and ordinances. These are necessary because certain repairs will affect the property’s structure as a whole. Town authorities will want to make sure that your home will support the work you plan to do and that you aren’t selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida in the future. 

There is a good chance that you will need a permit if you plan to make significant changes to your house’s footprint. This includes things like room additions, bedrooms, garages, most decks, some sheds, and even lawn sprinklers. Furthermore, any project that changes your house’s support system- changes to decks, balconies, porches, and load-bearing walls – also requires a permit. 

 Here are a few other cases where you may need a permit in Florida:

  • Fences- Not all fences require permits, but different counties often have height restrictions on non-permitted fencing; for example, in Broward County, fences require a permit, and certain fence materials have height limits. A wooden fence should not exceed 6ft in height, and a chain-link fence height limit is 12ft. All other fences (aluminum, iron, PVC, etc.) have to be designed by a Florida Registered Architect/Engineer. And to apply for the permit, you are required to have two (2) complete sets of building plans to get a residential fence permit.
  • New windows: replacing an existing window usually doesn’t require a permit, but cutting a hole for a new window typically does. This would include a new door and skylights. 
  • Electrical and plumbing: If you remove existing or install new plumbing, a permit will probably be required. Any work that includes the installation of new electrical to your property also requires a permit. This could even mean something as simple as moving an outlet requires getting permission from the codes.
  • Siding: Most counties require a permit for any siding work
  • Water heater: You probably need a permit if you need to replace your water heater. You could also need a permit for any changes in the ventilation system.
  • Cost: Some counties require a permit if construction or renovations cost more than a certain amount- usually $5,000 or more. 

The best way to figure out if the work you’re doing needs a permit is to search for your local counties’ building permits online. You will also be able to find what information needs to be submitted to get a building permit. 

Improvements That Do Not Require a Permit 

Some good news, there are things you can do to your home that don’t require permits. These renovations are pretty minor and most of which you can do without hiring a contractor. Here are some of the projects that typically don’t require a permit:

  • Wallpapering or painting
  • Installation of carpet or hardwood flooring
  • Minor electrical repairs- as long as they don’t involve adding new or moving existing services
  • Installing new countertops
  • Replacing a faucet 

How Permits Can Get Missed

It’s one thing to have unpermitted work done to your house knowingly, maybe to save a couple of hundred dollars, but it’s another thing entirely to have unpermitted work done and not even know about it. Here are a few ways unpermitted work can go unnoticed. 

Permits on Construction Can Be Expensive

Construction permits aren’t cheap, especially if you have to get plans drawn up for your project. So what ends up happening, some homeowners may choose to hire an under-the-table contractor that can do the work for cheaper. 

Those contractors are less costly because they aren’t following the proper guidelines required by local building codes. So the savings you’re getting from hiring them comes from not paying for proper permits. 

Sadly there are times when contractors lie. Dishonest contractors charge homeowners for the building permits, but they never go and get them. When contractors bill the homeowner for building permits that were never pulled, it leaves the homeowner liable for unpermitted work, possible lawsuits, and hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs. 

In that type of situation, not only will you have unpermitted work in Florida done to your home, but you will have to start from scratch and hire another contractor to fix the previous job. So when you go to list your home you don’t end up selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida. More than likely, they will have to redo the previous work because renovations that need permits are usually in walls, framing, insulation, electrical, and plumbing. 

The newly hired contractor will need to replace the work that the first contractor did without the proper documentation to make it legal.

Suppose you find yourself in a situation where the seller didn’t disclose unpermitted work in Florida. In that case, the first thing you should do is try to contact the previous owner; when you do, try to get more information about the renovations they had done to the house while owning it.

When you reach out to them, make sure not to accuse them of knowingly doing unpermitted work. Remember, there is a chance that the contractor they hired lied to them as well.

If you aren’t sure how to get a hold of them, an easy way to get their contact information is by having your real estate agent contact their listing agent for their phone number. Usually, with some explanation, the listing agent is understanding and willing to share their contact info.

Florida Permit Requirements are Always Changing

As mentioned earlier, each county has different laws in the state of Florida, and those laws can frequently change, which is what may have happened to you or the previous owners. Staying up to date on local permitting requirements can be tricky because they are continually being modified. 

While having construction done to your home, verify with your contractor if any work needs to be permitted. If the contractor says the work being done doesn’t need permits, have them show you precisely where that building code says that particular repair doesn’t require one. 

If you do end up needing a permit pulled for renovations on your home, have the contractor show you proof that the construction permits were pulled. Do be cautious, though; building permits can be faked and replicated. 

To cover all your bases, call down to your local building codes office and ask them to confirm the permit number the contractor provided. By verifying this information, you will ensure that your contractor isn’t doing unpermitted work, and you won’t end up selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida in the future. 

Knowingly Skipping Permits

People may not want to admit it, but it happens; some homeowners are cheap, even a bit rebellious, and don’t feel like spending money on construction permits. And then they turn around and sell a house with unpermitted work in Florida. 

The thing is, there is no way to tell for sure if someone intentionally or unintentionally had unpermitted work in Florida done to their home before selling. 

If you do find yourself in a situation where the seller didn’t disclose unpermitted work in Florida, as mentioned before, start by contacting the previous owner. When you speak to them, make sure not to accuse them of unpermitted work. Coming at them aggressively or implying they had unpermitted work done to their house will surely make them defensive, resulting in no cooperation on their part.

Start by asking them who the previous contractors were that worked on the house because you’re looking to hire someone to do some extra work to the home. Once you get that information, you can call the previous contractor and ask them about the home’s construction permits. 

If you cannot get any details from the homeowner and the contractor, a simple call down to county code enforcement will result in a full permit history on the property. 

If you discover repairs were completed without permits being pulled, ask the contractor to prove that the permits were indeed pulled. Sometimes they will have documentation of it, and it was just a clerical error. Other times, it brings to light that the homeowner and contractor knowingly skipped over that detail to save some extra money by doing unpermitted work to the home.

At the end of the day, unless you’re in the construction industry, most people don’t know that permits are required for certain home renovations. Some people may be aware when they get estimates for home renovations but choose not to pay the extra expense, so they end up going with a contractor willing to do unpermitted work. Unfortunately, there are other situations where a contractor says they will pull permits for the work and end up pocketing the money instead. 

Whatever the case maybe, it puts you in a tough position, and you don’t want to get stuck selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida.

Selling a House with Unpermitted Work in Florida

Now that you know what home repairs would qualify for a permit and which renovations may not, you may have realized there has been some work done to your house that wasn’t permitted, or the previous seller didn’t disclose unpermitted work in Florida. 

So what should be done next to sell a house with unpermitted improvements in Florida?

Unfortunately, most potential buyers will pass on buying a property with unpermitted work. Can you blame them?

The issue that comes up when selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida (that is if someone is willing to buy it) is that you more than likely will need to take less for the property. Probably not something you like hearing, but the prospective buyer will have to put in their time and money into having the renovations redone and pull permits for the repairs to be completed. 

So you’re probably thinking, “can’t I just try selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida? They surely won’t ever find out.” And yes, maybe they won’t find out, but is it really worth it? Here is what could happen in that instance, you could get sued over selling a house with unpermitted improvements in Florida, which could cost you thousands of dollars in legal fees and hours of missed work. And once all that is over, you still will need to go back and pay for the unpermitted renovations to be correctly redone and apply for permits. 

Sound worth it to you?

If you are selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida, you really should disclose upfront all the repairs that have unpermitted work done to them. For example, if you added a porch and didn’t have a permit, you should share that the porch is completed but unpermitted. 

By disclosing unpermitted work, it could save you from legal trouble down the road. If you are in a situation where you’re selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida, it wouldn’t hurt to contact a local real estate attorney to go over what your legal obligations are.

Another Solution: Sell to a Florida Home Buying Company

Instead of being stuck selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida, sell your house to a local home buying company. Homebuyers buy houses that have unpermitted work all the time. It is in situations like this where a homebuyer can come in handy. They buy properties in as-is condition and usually have a team in place to handle fixing unpermitted work in Florida. This solution will save you time and money that it would take you to redo the unpermitted work, find a reputable contractor, and apply for permits. 

Say you were to go to all that trouble, the work could take months to fix, and you would still have months of uncertainty waiting for your house to sell. And depending on your situation, you may not be able to wait for your home to sell. Instead, sell to a local homebuyer like Florida Cash Home Buyers

Florida Cash Home Buyers is a real estate solutions company based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. They are a family-driven business and want to help homeowners like yourself find win-win solutions for whatever problems they’re facing, including selling a house with unpermitted improvements in Florida. When you sell directly to Florida Cash Home Buyers, you won’t have to deal with the hassle of repairing your unpermitted work. They can even close quickly, getting you on your way to your next home.

If you’re interested in getting a fair and free-no pressure cash offer, please contact us! We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about how it works or about our company. We are also accredited by the Better Business Bureau and have an A+ rating.

Sell My House in Florida

Instead of worrying about selling a house with unpermitted work in Florida, sell to Florida Cash Home Buyers today! If you think you need to sell your house in Florida fast, then you may need us. We at Florida Cash Home Buyers are local homebuyers in Florida, and we’re helping local homeowners have a quick and hassle-free sale. If your Florida house qualifies, we can make you a quick and fair cash offer.

Omer Reiner

Omer Reiner is one of the owners of Florida Cash Home Buyers. He has been featured on many online publications over the years as he has extensive knowledge and expertise of the Florida Real Estate market.

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