Building Without a Permit can be very expensive   Leave a comment

Lots of people want to avoid the hassle of the permitting process, thinking it will save them time and money.  Every day we Realtors see the costly aftermath of this when the banks won’t loan on homes with unpermitted additions or lacking final permits….My Grandmother had a saying “Penney wise, pound foolish”  You might save a few dollars in the beginning, but if you ever want to sell your home, after the fact permitting can cost you a lot!  My friend Alan Van Zee at Hawaii Mortgage said I could share his article about the implications of building without a permit in today’s lending climate, thanks again Alan for these very wise words!

Building Without a Permit

The percentage of single family homes for sale that have unpermitted improvements is staggering.  As lending regulations have tightened over the past 8 years, sellers and homeowners are learning the harsh reality of not playing by the rules.

 

It really makes no sense to do work without a permit.  While permits may take some time getting through the building department, the cost for one is relatively low.  I’ll just be bold and say – If you proceed with building anything without a required permit, you are dumb.

 

Sorry to be harsh, but what time and money you may save going the “cheap and dirty” route, will not only cause problems for you in any future financing, but you may never really reap the reward of added value.

 

Appraisers have a tough job when valuing a home with unpermitted improvements.  No matter how nice, an enclosed lanai or transformed garage can never be counted in the calculations of living space square footage.  That could change your 3 bedroom 2 bath home into a 2-1.  The value placed on living space is significantly higher than non-living space.  If someone is trying to buy your listed home for sale, the appraisal may not support the sales price.  SO unless the buyer is putting a substantial amount down, it could cause the transaction to collapse.

 

While this phenomenon of unpermitted improvements occurs on every island, what’s up with Maui and Hawaii Island?  The incidence of unpermitted improvements is almost like a contagion.  Recently I had a client wishing to buy a beautiful ranch property on Maui for $1,300,000.  The owner/seller constructed a 1,700 square-foot shed/barn/garage on the property without a permit.  Why?  The permit was not that expensive.  They obviously had a contractor build it, as it was not some piece of junk.  Now the seller has to go and obtain an after-the-fact building permit.  Not only does it slow down the transaction process, it could derail it if the county comes back and doesn’t approve what was built.  If you are selling something valued at almost 1½ million dollars, are you nuts to think you can build an illegal structure larger than many people’s home, and it won’t cause any problems?  Maybe the thought of selling was not on their radar when they built it.  But selling or not, here’s a fact – rarely does a property stay in one’s family without the need for financing.

 

I get the idea that you may work in the trade and have friends that can help on the side, but get a permit.  Maybe you don’t want to get a permit because certain specialty areas need a licensed contractor to perform that work?  For the specialty areas like electrical and plumbing, get a licensed contractor to do the work.  If I were buying a home and found that someone other than a licensed contractor did the electrical or plumbing, it would not sit well with me.  After all, what could happen?  The place flood or go up in flames?

 

The bottom line is that lending and unpermitted improvements don’t mix.  If you want to see your “investment” reap the greatest reward from the time, money, and effort you put into a renovation or expansion, do it right, and get it permitted.”

for-blogReprinted courtesy of Alan Van Zee, Hawaii Mortgage Company, Phone: 808.988.6622

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