Selling a home can be a time-consuming and stressful task, especially if it is your first time selling one. Selling a house with unpermitted work can make the process even more challenging.
What exactly is unpermitted work? This term refers to any project or construction that has not been approved by the city and does not have the proper permit for the work to be done.
Permits are required to ensure the safety of your home and surrounding property. Your local municipality must be assured that any repairs or construction will meet the minimum safety regulations required by the city.
In some cases, a homeowner knows a permit is needed but doesn’t bother to get one. Some people may do work on their homes after a permit has been denied. Unpermitted work doesn’t necessarily imply ill intent, though. It may be a do-it-yourself project that you are indeed skilled at doing. It could also be a minor alteration that you don’t even know you needed a permit for.
Either way, unpermitted work can be a hindrance. If unpermitted work is discovered after the home’s sale, the buyer could potentially sue for fraud or breach of contract.
Unpermitted work could even affect the buyer before the sale of the home. The potential homebuyer could have their loan denied by the bank if additional structures were added to the home and no longer match the property records.
So, can you sell a home with unpermitted work? Is there a way? The answer is yes, there are things you can do.
What if a House Seller Didn’t Disclose Unpermitted Work in Nebraska?
If you are a home buyer, checking for unpermitted work before making your purchase is a must. It could be a nightmare to discover that your new home is not up to code and that you have to spring for expensive repairs. For example, if your electrical wiring is not up to code, your insurance company may not cover fire damage. You could even face a lawsuit from the city just because the seller didn’t disclose that unpermitted work was done on the house.
It could be costly to have to fill in a pool, tear down a shed, or even demolish a room because the previous owner never got a permit to build those structures in the first place.
What happens if you buy a house with unpermitted work? It depends on whether the omission of the work was intentional or not.
The Nebraska Revised Statute 76-2,120 States that “A seller is not liable for any error, inaccuracy, or omission in a disclosure statement which was not within the seller’s personal knowledge. Thus, violations of this section must be done knowingly.”
It also states that “If a conveyance of real property is not made in compliance with this section, the purchaser shall have a cause of action against the seller and may recover the actual damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees.”
In essence, if you want to recoup any damages caused by buying a home with unpermitted work, you would need to prove that the seller had knowledge of this work and deliberately omitted it before the sale took place.
Remediating a House With Unpermitted Improvements in Nebraska
Unpermitted work may not be covered by insurance, so some sellers choose to remediate their homes before putting them on the market. Remediating your home is a great way to maximize your earnings during the sale of your home.
The process of remediation involves hiring a contractor who specializes in identifying potential issues and unpermitted work. They will make the necessary changes, removing or modifying the work done so that it complies with regulations. Sometimes, it may be wise to hire an inspector to prove that your home is up to code.
If you are not sure whether an improvement that you have done to your home could get a permit or not, you can always try to get a retroactive permit. This means that the government may give you the authorization to keep what you have already built if they don’t consider it dangerous.
This option can be costly due to having to rebuild any deconstructed projects and fixing any violations that have occurred. But, if you have the money to spend, remediation will ensure that your home is safe and up to code, making the process of selling it a lot easier.
Nebraska Home Improvement Permit Laws
In Nebraska, building permits are required for new buildings, as well as add-ons to existing buildings. They are necessary for internal repairs, for things such as plumbing, sanitation, and electrical repairs. Most home alterations require a permit, especially ones that affect the structural integrity of the property. Adding an external structure like a porch or outdoor pool, or building sheds or fences requires you to get a permit as well.
Bear in mind, too, that some of these permits are specific to the work you are doing, so if you are doing extensive improvements, you may need more than one permit.
Permit requirements vary depending on where you live, as they are usually issued by the city and not the state. Sometimes they may even be issued by the county, so it’s best to check with your local municipality when requesting permits.
Selling a House With Unpermitted Work in Nebraska
The Nebraska Revised Statute 76-2,120 states that “Each seller of residential real property located in Nebraska shall provide the purchaser with a written disclosure statement of the real property’s condition.” This means that the condition of every part of the home needs to be disclosed to the new buyer. Nebraska’s Seller Property Condition Disclosure form provides a list of everything you will need to disclose.
So, can I sell my home with unpermitted work? Yes, you can, but you may need to do a few workarounds before doing so. Here are a few things that you can do to sell a house with unpermitted work.
One option, as we mentioned earlier, is to get permits retroactively for any unpermitted work. The city will have to inspect the work to make sure it is up to code, and if it isn’t, they will let you know what repairs are needed or whether or not the whole project needs to be torn down and redone accordingly.
You can also sell your house without a realtor, as-is, disclosing any unpermitted work to the potential buyer. If the buyer is open to getting the retroactive permits themselves, selling your house at a lower price could offset the money that the buyer would have to put in to obtain the permits.
Another good option as to how to sell a house with unpermitted work is to get an inspection and receive an estimate of any needed repairs. After getting an estimate, you can complete the repairs before selling your home.
An estimate is useful to have if you find a homebuyer who’s willing to purchase your home and make the repairs themselves, and it helps the buyer factor in the complete cost of purchasing the house. If you offer to pay for some of the work yourself, it might entice the buyer to close the deal sooner.
Sell your home to investors who have the money to cover any repairs. Companies that buy houses in Nebraska purchase houses in any condition and provide a cash offer for your home.
Selling your house for cash is also a good option if you’re looking to avoid selling with a realtor and paying a commission fee.
Tips for Selling a House with Unpermitted Work in Nebraska
Here are the most important aspects you need to consider.
- Be honest when disclosing the condition of your house.
- Offer homebuyers lower selling prices, if they are willing to get permits retroactively and do the repairs themselves.
- Sell house to cash home buyers – search online for companies that will buy homes in any condition.
- Remediate your home as much as possible.
- Retroactively get permits for your unpermitted work and make any changes if needed.
- Get an estimate of the repairs and use it as leverage for selling the home.
Selling a home with unpermitted work can be a bit difficult, but it is not impossible. Following the tips above can help make the process easier. For additional information, check out Thrasher Foundation’s Permits: What Nebraska Homeowners Need to Know.
If you are a homebuyer, it’s a must to be diligent in checking for unpermitted work so you don’t end up spending more money to correct the mistakes made by the previous owner.
Do your research by visiting your local building and safety office, either in person or online. Million Acres real estate investments offer great information on Why You Need to Check for Unpermitted Work Before Buying.
At the end of the day, whether you are the seller or home buyer, getting the proper permits for any home repairs, no matter how big or small, will save a lot of hassle for everyone involved in the long run.