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Hi,

We have been house-hunting for almost 6 months and we finally came across a house that we fell in love with and can actually afford (Toronto, ON) b. There is one problem though, it has a finished basement with a bathroom as well as a bathroom in the second floor which were done without a permit. We are scheduling our inspection for next week, but we are still uncomfortable with the fact that the basement and upstairs bathroom where renovated without a permit.

What would you do? Would you buy a house with renovations without permits?

Is there anyway for me to now get permits for a renovation that was done almost two years ago?

What kind of penalties or fees would I have to pay for buying a house with renos without permits?

Do you think there will be problems with the insurance company and mortgage company?

Thanks in advanced for all your help
 

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R.I.P. Don - 06/21/2020
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Why not make the city permits and inspection a condition of sale ON THE CURRENT OWNER? Why should you worry about it? If the owners want a sale, they should know they would have to have documentation from the city the work has been approved. Darned if I would pay for it.
 

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Why not make the city permits and inspection a condition of sale ON THE CURRENT OWNER? Why should you worry about it? If the owners want a sale, they should know they would have to have documentation from the city the work has been approved. Darned if I would pay for it.
It's Toronto. No owner would pay, there's always another buyer who won't condition, especially if the property is affordable.
 

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This is an odd first post?! Why would you choose an Apple/Mac forum to register to post a question about Toronto building permits?!
 

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You can get a permit after the fact; they will charge you twice as much as it would cost to get it beforehand. (How much that is varies by the square footage of the renovation.) Also, to get the permit passed, you would likely need to open up some walls, so there is some cost there in opening and repairing them.

Note that just because there is no permit, that doesn't necessarily mean that the work is bad. It's just that without a permit, you cannot be assured one way or another. But my point is that is may not be an expensive fix.

Honestly, I'd get an estimate about how much it would cost to get the permits done and cleared, noting that without opening stuff up, it will be very difficult to estimate this accurately.

But if you can come to a rough figure, I'd see about getting the cost of the house lowered by that much, and then getting it done yourself to ensure that it's done right. (And hey, while you are at it, you could make a few improvements.)
 

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How would you even know it was done without permits? If I were buying a house, the last thing I would ask is to see the permits for any renovations, whether done two years ago or 25 years ago.
 

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How would you even know it was done without permits? If I were buying a house, the last thing I would ask is to see the permits for any renovations, whether done two years ago or 25 years ago.
I was wondering the same sort of thing... in QC the municipality doesn't inspect your house except even 10 years or so... and only very superficially.
 

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How would you even know it was done without permits? If I were buying a house, the last thing I would ask is to see the permits for any renovations, whether done two years ago or 25 years ago.
You legally have to disclose that information when selling your home... You can't sell a home with a finished basement if it was done without permits...
 

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So does not then not mean that even it they sold it, the cost of the after the fact permits would then be the responsibility of the seller?
Nope. As long as you disclose that the work was done without permits it's akin to selling with an unfinished basement (and the price usually reflects that).
 

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You legally have to disclose that information when selling your home... You can't sell a home with a finished basement if it was done without permits...
I'm not even sure that this is the law, and even if it is, that doesn't happen in practice.

I could buy an apartment building that had been renovated top to bottom without permits, and would I know? Not unless I went looking for the information. (Yes, it's happened.)
 

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I find that buiding permit requirement a bit hard to swallow.

I did a major renovation about 20 years ago, got a building permit and had the inspections done.
I sure as heck don't have that paper work anymore - the township here has changed borders, name, the municipal offices have moved several times - do you really think they still have a record of that if I went looking.
 

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Tritium Glow
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Home inspections and permits mean nothing in a seller's market.

If you look closely at many listings, they'll specifically disclose that "retrofits are 'as is' and there are no implied warranties" which basically means the bathroom or basement was done by the home owner and/or without city permits by a third party. The only time a permit is necessary is when there are major structural changes to the house...such as an addition where the architectural plans may contravene city by-laws and therefore need approval prior to any work being performed. Retrofits of existing structures and spaces is not as stringent, provided they are brought up to current code. A permit under the latter scenario does not protect you from inferior work, it just indicates the work was done to minimal code requirements.

If you have a rickety old garage and want to tare it down in order to build a new one, you'd need a permit, no ifs ands or buts, but if you are retrofitting a 30 year old bathroom you can get away with not getting a permit provided you bring it up to current code standards and you're not making structural changes (such as removing a load bearing wall). Most of these bathroom retrofits are cosmetic in nature, but need to be updated in proper placement and number of new GFI circuitry, plumbing vents, fans, etc.

Wait for your inspection and hope the inspector you hired knows what he/she is doing. I personally would not sweat the retrofits unless they are blatantly poor, shoddy and visibly not up to current code.

Also, if you do buy the home, do not attempt to obtain permit approval for these previous retrofits. You do not want to go down that road.
 

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peek-a-boo
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home inspections and permits mean nothing in a seller's market.

If you look closely at many listings, they'll specifically disclose that "retrofits are 'as is' and there are no implied warranties" which basically means the bathroom or basement was done by the home owner and/or without city permits by a third party. The only time a permit is necessary is when there are major structural changes to the house...such as an addition where the architectural plans may contravene city by-laws and therefore need approval prior to any work being performed. Retrofits of existing structures and spaces is not as stringent, provided they are brought up to current code. A permit under the latter scenario does not protect you from inferior work, it just indicates the work was done to minimal code requirements.

If you have a rickety old garage and want to tare it down in order to build a new one, you'd need a permit, no ifs ands or buts, but if you are retrofitting a 30 year old bathroom you can get away with not getting a permit provided you bring it up to current code standards and you're not making structural changes (such as removing a load bearing wall). Most of these bathroom retrofits are cosmetic in nature, but need to be updated in proper placement and number of new gfi circuitry, plumbing vents, fans, etc.

Wait for your inspection and hope the inspector you hired knows what he/she is doing. I personally would not sweat the retrofits unless they are blatantly poor, shoddy and visibly not up to current code.

Also, if you do buy the home, do not attempt to obtain permit approval for these previous retrofits. You do not want to go down that road.
+100
 

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You must satisfy yourself

You legally have to disclose that information when selling your home... You can't sell a home with a finished basement if it was done without permits...
That is absolutely false. I sold l houses and appraised houses for 20 years or so.

1. I estimate that perhaps 10% of basement renos had permits. They sold openly on the market. Apartments are another matter. Multi family housing conversion has serious safetly issures as you stretch out the utility of the existing systems.

2. The vendor has no obligation to declare. They do have an obligation not to deceive or lie. Realtors ask for disclosures from vendors and may give all sorts of reasons for it but the main reason is CYA. They want all responsibility and hence liability to lie with the vendor.

3. The purchaser does have an obligation to satisfy themselves. If you are spending a kazillion dollars, you do due diligence. Later on, if you do find that you have been hosed in some way, you also have an obligation to mitigate your losses. You cannot let a problem run rampant so that the house will fall down and you get to force the vendor to build you another.

4. If a vendor is forced to sign a disclosure I have long maintained that the proper disclosure is:

a.) I know nothing

b.) I hired this agent because I am firmly of the opinion that he knows less than me.

c.) Satisfy yourself.

d.) I warrant nothing.

See what the house inspector says.

Your worries are primarilly

- wiring (get yourself a polarity tester and test each plug yourself and see if the basement is on separate circuits or did they just cram off the existing when they did the work)

- plumbing (mainly wanting to assure yourself that it is properly vented. Leakage should be fairly self evident)

- structural (did they tamper with the main beam or bearing wall and if so, how).

If you want extra assurance, bring in your own carpenter, electrician and plumber.

Most work that I saw done by owners was actually of very good quality. There were very few jackpots and usually there would be signs. If they did one thing wrong, they most likely did everything wrong.

Do not even thing of asking for a guarantee that the property is up to current code. Codes change over time. There may be things in there that were absolutely top of the line as the time of construction (both of the original and the renos) that are no longer sanctioned.
 
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