Selling my home with unpermitted work

Your Questions Answered

At Ashlar, I firmly b that an educated home buyer or seller is best equipped to make their own decisions. That’s why I take time out of my day each and every day to answer someone’s real estate question.  And, when I think the answer can be useful to you as well, I share it here.  So without further ado:


Can I sell my home with unpermitted work?

Unpermitted work is a required disclosure in Florida as it materially affects the value of the house. And basically you will get pennies on the dollar for the work you’ve done because it’s not permitted.

Your best bet is to try and get it permitted after the fact but just know that depending on where you’re at the city / county may require you to open up walls to show them exactly what you did. They may also require you to redo stuff if you did it wrong. Or, maybe you built it to code back then but now code is changed and you need to update to current code.

How annoying, right?

Well let’s workshop this a bit. Let’s say you don’t disclose it and then something happens. Maybe the next owner (or 2nd, or 3rd) plugs maybe one thing too many in an electrical outlet in that bedroom, the house catches fire and burns to the ground. Now is where the real fun begins! Their homeowners insurance could do some bare level research, find out that hey that addition was never permitted and not legal living space and now either the insurance company or the current owners now can sue you because you didn’t disclose it. Let’s throw some added fun on there and maybe 1 or two people died. If it was permitted you’d be fine. Since it’s not, you could potentially be fully liable depending on the problem.

Not disclosing this is fraud. And your liability for fraud doesn’t end at the closing table.

So now the only sensible alternative is to disclose “This is an unpermitted bedroom and Florida Room”. Which usually results in most buyers walking due to unknown risk and thus the improvement selling at a drastic discount to someone lax enough in their understanding of the situation to buy it.

Adding actual livable square footage is about the only sure fire way to add positive ROI to your home value (renovating kitchens and bathrooms you only get about 50% of that money back) and by not getting this permitted you’ve shot yourself in the foot. SO your best bet is to get this permitted after the fact and benefit from all that hard work, disclose it and hope you find a sucker, or roll the dice on this coming back to bite you in the ass 5-20 years from now.

Kyle Sasser

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