Verify Everything With The Documentation
Often the seller or the Realtor will tell you or your client that something, such as the roof or heating system, was just recently replaced. Another example is that they will tell you that the asbestos was removed by a licensed EPA contractor. That's fine, then just tell the client to get copies of all of the receipts and documentation for the work performed. Recommend that the client call the contractors personally. This will enable them to talk with the contractors to find out important information. They should ask the contractors if there was anything about the work they did at the subject property that would be helpful or important for the client to know. Sometimes the contractor will inform your client that the seller wanted to save some money on the job. This could be due to the fact that the house was on the market for sale. As a result, the seller may have told the contractor to cut corners and not do the proper repair work. This is done to cover up a problem so potential buyers won't see any inadequate repair work.
The client also needs to check with the local building department to make sure that this information is accurate and if any permits and final approvals were required. Almost always permits and approvals are required so don't take it for granted that everything was properly filed and taken care of. Often you'll have the seller, the Realtor, or another third party tell you or your client that all the building permits and approvals have been obtained for some work done at the site. Or else many times third party people will say that building permits and approvals were not needed for some work done at the site. That's fine, then just tell the client to obtain all receipts and documentation for the work done. Also, tell the client to check with the local building department to make sure that this information is accurate and that all permits and final approvals were obtained if they were required for the work done.
Whenever you make any changes to a house or a site from the time of the original construction, you have to file the necessary permits and obtain all final approvals from the local municipality.
Whenever you make ANY changes to a house or a site from the time of the original construction, you have to file the necessary permits and obtain all final approvals from the local municipality. (Contrary to popular belief, this is an accurate statement and I'm the only guy I know of that tells his client's the facts about checking the records at town hall. Realtors don't want your client checking town hall records because then he may know too much and be an educated buyer.) This pertains to all repairs done at the house and site, such as: replacing the heating or air-conditioning systems; upgrading the electrical system; replacing the roof shingles; finishing a basement or attic; putting an addition on a house; adding a deck or a swimming pool; installing or updating a bathroom or kitchen; and anything else other than minor maintenance like painting. The reason you have to obtain permits and approvals for this repair work is that the local building department inspectors have to check the work out. They have to make sure the work is done properly and safely.
Local building inspectors are needed to ensure that all construction and repair work at least meets the minimum building codes in that town. By meeting the building code standards, it will help protect the occupants of the house from unsafe conditions. For example, let's say an electrician installs new branch wires and outlets in a remodeled bath or kitchen. How do you know the wires and outlets are properly installed? The answer is - you don't!! Once the walls are sealed up there's no way for the house occupants to see any loose or exposed wires. Unsafe electrical conditions could lead to a fire or someone getting electrocuted. This is why the local building inspector has to sign-off on repair work in stages. In most areas, the inspector will view the contractor's work before it's sealed up with a finished covering, such as sheetrock, flooring, etc. Then the building inspector will give the OK to seal up the work. A final inspection is conducted when the repair job is completed. It's similar to new house construction. The building inspector goes out to view the work in different stages during the construction process. Each inspection must receive an approval before further construction can continue. This process allows the inspector to sign-off on work that will be covered up when completed.
There is a second reason why the local municipality wants you to file for permits and approvals for all repair work. When you put an addition on a house, add a deck, a pool, or upgrade the house, you're then increasing the property's market value. As a result, the local tax assessor may want to raise your property taxes because now the house is worth more money.