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Check Town Hall... Or Else

Don't take it for granted that the permits have been obtained for any work performed. Many people will add to the original construction or make repairs without filing for permits.

Years ago the records at local municipalities were all kept on paper and in file cabinets so it was a lot more work to find what you needed. Now everything is in computer databases which greatly simplifies checking the records on a property. Don't just take it for granted that the permits and approvals have been obtained for any work performed. Many people will add to the original construction or make repairs without filing for permits. They might do the work themselves or else they hire a contractor who doesn't know what he's doing, or else he's too lazy, and he won't file any permits for the work. Recommend to the client that he/she verify this information, plus you might want to check it out as well. If it's true and all permits and approvals have been obtained, then great, everyone's happy. But if it's not true, then you don't want to get stuck holding the bag for the problems that will come up later.

Don't let any Realtors or other third parties talk you or your client out of verifying this information at town hall.

Don't let any Realtors or other third parties talk you or your client out of verifying this information! Almost always a seller or a Realtor will say:

"Oh, yes they have all the permits for that work,"  or "Oh, you don't need to file a permit for that in this area, "  or "Yes, we do have a C of O, "  or "The asbestos was removed by a licensed EPA contractor."

Verify everything they say by looking at the written documentation with your own two eyes and tell the client to do the same!!!!  (You're not required to go to town hall for a home inspection. However, if you do, you'll certainly gain some brownie points with your client and you can charge an additional fee for this service). If the third party's information is wrong, then you and your client will end up paying the price for it. Just because someone has a Certificate of Occupancy it doesn't mean that the building department has approved all of the work done at the site. A C of O is issued when the house is built and it's generally only used to state the legal occupancy of the house. That's why it's called a Certificate of Occupancy. Even if a C of O is required for any repairs done at the site, this does not mean that the contractor or the homeowner had the C of O updated to include the repairs that were done. If town hall isn't notified that the work is being done, then the C of O doesn't magically get updated on its own!

Even if a C of O is required for any repairs done at the site, this does not mean that the contractor or the homeowner had the C of O updated to include the repairs that were done. If town hall isn't notified the work is being done, then the C of O doesn't magically get updated on its own!

In some areas, a new C of O is not issued when repairs or upgrading is done at the subject property. These areas will just require that the homeowner obtain permits and approvals from the town building and zoning departments. So don't make the client think that because there's a C of O, there are no violations or no missing permits and approvals.

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