Retroactive Building Permit
UPDATE: Q Sterry – Inspired Architecture, LLC is no longer performing these services.
Well intentioned homeowners often begin working on their homes without a clear understanding about the type of improvements that will require a building permit. Weather they are trying to add a simple custom design element, or something larger like a full-blown remodel or addition, it is always recommended to have a preliminary discussion with a local City or County Planner, (or other design professional/ Architect).
Here is a typical scenario. A homeowner completes a construction project on their home without permit. Everything seems fine until they decide to sell their home. A competent Real Estate agent listing the house discovers a discrepancy between previous listing information and the current listing or appraisal information. This may be anything from an additional bathroom or bedroom to an increase in Square footage. The agent searches City and/or County records and determines that the work has not been properly permitted. The discrepancy is brought to the attention of the homeowner who says, “I didn’t know I needed a permit for that!”. Conventional lending may not be available to a prospective buyer once the unpermitted work comes to light, and the Real Estate Agent is required to disclose this information to any prospective buyer.
Fortunately there is hope! At the City of Eugene in Oregon, City Planners and building officials take a cooperative and reasonable approach to retroactively permitting these projects once they are properly documented. All retroactive building permits are unique and will likely generate their own list of items that will need to be modified in order for the new structure or components to pass inspections. Documents must be drawn, and sometimes structural Engineering is required.
If the unpermitted work was constructed to current standards it won’t be too difficult to document and permit the work, but a certain amount of demolition may be required to verify and document all of the components used. If the construction was substandard, some demolition and reconstruction may be required in order to bring the structure and it’s components up to compliance with minimum code requirements. Sometimes code requirements can’t be met due to the construction methods employed, but this does not always result in demolition as the City is usually very helpful in finding a reasonable cooperative solution. Life-Safety code requirements are NEVER, (and should never be) compromised.