It's time to sell your home, you've done some major renovations and your house has work done that doesn't have a permit. Can this affect your value, what's the purpose of permits, and what should you do now that you're ready to sell, and are there remedies to address this?

Lets start off with addressing the biggest question:

Are permits important? 

The short answer is that YES permits are very important, they protect buyers, sellers, and occupants from living in places with potentially unsafe conditions. Permits are setup and designed to ensure that any construction or renovation work done on your home is done in a safe (to code) manner. When permits aren't present, and work isn't checked, you could run into changes of a home that could have serious flaws, from structural to electrical, the potential for leaks, fire, mold etc. This can lead to unsafe living conditions for new buyers, current occupants, renters, and when it's time to sell having unpermitted work can reduce the value of your Calgary home.

What types of permits are there? 

Generally speaking, in residential you'll usually deal with two types of permits, those are building permits which cover and address any structural changes, or changes to gas, plumbing, or major electrical work. You can also deal with development permits, which covers the erection and construction of new buildings, retaining walls that are over 1.2 meters in height, swimming pools and hot tubs, demolitions, relocations. 

Why are permits not obtained, and when is this usually discovered? 

Quite simply, we often hear from home owners that permits cost money, and can be time consuming as the biggest reasons they're not obtained, sometimes it comes down to simply not knowing they're needed as well for certain types of work. The reason permits cost money is because they require government oversight during and after the construction and development periods, you'll have inspectors come out to review work at various phases throughout your project. With bigger renovations and jobs, some homeowners will skip permits to save on the already high costs they've incurred. 

Often it's when a home owner decides to do work on a home that has had work done without permits, that they encounter issues, this is because their home is then seen as not being to code or potentially unsafe. 

What are the remedies for work done without a permit in Calgary? 

So you're thinking about selling your home without permits, you really only have a few options at this point. The first is getting a retroactive permit, these are often a lot more expensive than your typical permit, and if the work cannot be seen or isn't to code, a contractor could be required to come in and fix or remedy the work, which could then turn into further permits required for additional work costing you more money. 

The second option is to sell the home without a permit, which can be just as costly. A buyer with this knowledge can leverage the lack of permits in comparison to other properties that are similar to yours, and negotiate against you. This can lead to your home sitting on the market longer, as well as cut into your profits. 

Should I care about permits in new communities like auburn bay in Calgary? 

In a community like Auburn Bay, which is relatively newer in the city of Calgary, you'll want to take note and see if permits were pulled from work done after the home was purchased from the builder, your Real Estate Partner REALTOR can guide you through this process. In newer communities, some buyers will often purchase a home from the builder without a developed basement to save on their purchase price, giving them freedom to develop once they've taken possession, this work though, would require a permit. 

Disadvantages of selling a home without a permit

Buyers love ease and unknown barriers or hurdles can easily send them in another direction. To some, the permitting process and permits may be common knowledge, but for others it's a foreign concept, and having a home without permits can create barriers that some buyers simply are unwilling to take on. 

Homes without permits can be subject to fines from the city or work previously completed, could be requested to be taken down / repaired or removed. 

Remedies for unpermitted work

When it comes to selling your home with unpermitted work, you really only have a few options. 

Sell the home without permits - Your biggest risk is that you'll potentially push buyers away once they've seen your disclosures of unpermitted work. It's important that you work closely with your agent to ensure that proper disclosure of non permitted work is disclosed to ensure you don't face any legal ramifications in the future. 

Obtain permits retroactively - You might be thinking, why wouldn't I just do this? The reality is, retroactive permits can be expensive. If the work wasn't completed to code, you could be subjected to fixing the work done, opening up walls, or major demolition expenses.  If the work was done to code at the time but isn't presently up to code, the work will not be grandfathered in, and you will be required to bring the work up to code. 

Where to find permit fees for Calgary

You can find the latest fee schedules and information for obtaining permits below: 

2021 Permit Fee Schedule by the City of Calgary 

Any questions about permits? Utilize the city of Calgary live chat from Monday - Friday 8am to 4:30pm 

Building and development lists and forms by the city of Calgary

Posted by Cody Tritter on
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