Permits and C.O.'s in Connecticut real estate transactions.
A thorn in the side for many of us, home owner, real estate agent, home inspector, attorney, appraiser, loan officer, underwriter. The lack of a permit or certificate of occupancy can put the brakes on a real estate transaction faster than you can say "I sold my house".
In Connecticut it is the responsibility of the contractor doing the work to obtain the proper permits and certificate of occupancy (if required). But as a very smart real estate attorney pointed out recently, trying to track them down after the fact can be almost impossible.
The home owner would do well to make sure all is as it should be with the building department. After all, it will affect them in the long run.
But the field card says I have a finished basement and I am being taxed on it. Doesn't that mean it is legal?
In a word... NOPE!
Some people have the misguided idea that if the building department doesn't know about work that has been done on a home, they won't be taxed on it. NOT TRUE! That pesky tax assessor will tax you on what you have, they don't care if it's legal or not! They don't "speak" to the building department, they don't rat you out. They just want money for what is there!
If you have had work done on your home it is well worth a trip or a call to your local building department. Make sure the correct permits were pulled, make sure they were signed off on, and certainly make sure where needed a certificate of occupancy was obtained.
If you are thinking of selling your home this is a must. No permits, no C.O.'s can stop a deal dead in its tracks until you do what your contractor should have done in the first place. If you had the work done a few years ago and building codes have changed... well... you will have to get the work up to today's codes!
How is anyone going to find out there was never a permit for work done on my house?
Your listing agent should know, we visit the building department and see what is on file for the house. Comparing that to the list of work you have done on the house, we can advise you if something is amiss.
If it got past the listing agent, the buyers agent might be the one to figure out that deck doesn't have a permit. They also visit the town hall to check on these things for their clients.
If not the buyers agent, the appraiser should be making a visit to the building department. They will certainly let the buyers lender know if something is amiss. And there are times when it shows up at the 11th hour and the attorneys have to be involved. No fun at all, at any step of the process.
FYI, the people at the building department won't bite. They will pull the information on your house, they will let you look at it, they will even go through it with you if you aren't sure of what you are looking at! You want to know all the proper permits were pulled for work done, that they are not still "open", that the town came back and checked on the work when it was finished. And where a certificate of occupancy is required, that it is in place.
True story... I had a buyer for a home a few years back. I went to the building department and found a curious thing. The 2 story cape was listed in the building department as a 2 story colonial, with no certificate of occupancy for the second floor! The poor seller was not guilty, the house had been through a few owners before him. But he had to jump through hoops to get the C.O. for the second floor, which had 2 bedrooms and a full bath! If I hadn't found it, the appraiser would have and it would have caused problems for sure. By the time the appraiser made it to the building department all was well. There was a certificate of occupancy for the ENTIRE house on file. Whew... crisis averted and just in time.
Even if you and Uncle Bob put that beautiful deck on the back you needed to obtain a permit for the work. And the building department needed to be notified when you were finished so they could come out and check out your fantastic work. Just to make sure it was up to code. And by the way, that wood stove you put in required a permit!
Litchfield County Connecticut Real Estate Information. Permits and Certificate of Occupancy in the real estate transaction.
Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate
2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors
2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776
© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain