Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Is There a Permit on File?

During the housing boom, buyers would often forego home inspections and not take time to do their due diligence for fear of missing out on a property; while they were taking the time to be smart and careful someone else was getting their dream home (or so they thought)! These days, it’s just the opposite; buyers are taking their time and scrutinizing every detail; home inspectors are suggesting that buyers ask about permits; and in Massachusetts many attorneys are asking to see the permits for work done in addition to sellers’ disclosures, etc., and buyer agents have to be more careful too.

If you are a homeowner and you plan to have any work done, make sure the contractor pulls a permit and that the inspector from the town signs off after the work is done. It’s very easy to find out if one is needed; towns have the information about permits on their web sites or you can call the building inspector. Most people don’t think about it. They assume that their contractor will take care of everything and especially because most contractors include the cost of a permit in their quote, so of course everyone assumes contractors do their job.

Unfortunately, contractors often do not follow through with applying for the permit(s) and scheduling the inspection after. Whether it’s laziness or lack of time or they’re keeping the money you’re paying for the permit (hope that’s not it!) but the bottom line is that you are paying for the permit(s) and they are required for your protection, protection of the town, and the protection of future owners. When you sell your house, if a home inspector sees a problem and there is no permit on file, even though it’s not your fault, it raises suspicion that will ultimately cost you; buyers will question what else is wrong or missing and start looking for reasons to reduce the price! This has happened to many of my clients in the Wayland/Sudbury area who paid top dollar to reputable contractors who never followed through on the permit.

Advice to homeowners and sellers: ask the contractor when the inspector from the town will be coming by to sign off on the work done. If they can’t answer, make sure you follow up with the contractor. Or, you can call the inspector yourself then you know it will be done.

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