Permit? We don’t need no stink’n permits!

August 4, 2005 · Print This Article

Bob Kille Acuspect Home Inspection A fellow home inspector gave me a call late last night with a bit of information about one of my past inspections. Apparently, he was hired to inspect his old residence and to his amazement the house had been added to by about 2000 square feet. The owner of the house was, or claimed to be a builder.

The house was a real looker except for a weird floor plan off the master bedroom and my inspection revealed a number of common and not so common problems like inadequate combustion air supply.

On to the point, during the home inspection I had asked the owner if he had gotten permits for the additions and he said yes, they would be available to the new buyer (not to me). Of course this deal fell apart and now comes our next inspector, the x owner, who asks the same thing and gets the same response. However, having been the previous owner and curious to boot at the dramatic changes, he’s looking at how the additions were done in a more structural way.

One of the things that he noticed that I didn’t was that the owner had erected an adobe block parapet wall at the rear of the building to give it some character. To support the load a huge wooden beam was used. Here’s the kicker and what I failed to notice, you can’t support a masonry wall with wood.

Back to the permits, come to find out that the owner only had a permit to add a small room addition off the garage. We never know when a permit has been issued or not and we really shouldn’t care except to note that our customer should receive and review all permits issued for construction. Our job as home inspectors is not plan review but documentation of what we see and to that end we should be putting the onus of any permit or review back into the realm of buyer due diligence.

I do this with a simple comment in my home inspection report when I suspect an addition.

Consult Seller: The building has had one or more additions or modifications for which a permit may have been issued. Municipal building permit research is highly recommended if permits are not provided for review.

Would this comment protect me? What do you say if anything? Feel free to comment on this entry.

Copyright © 2005 by Bob Kille. To read other home inspection related articles or to view home inspection software and book publications by Mr. Kille, click on this link.


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