What EVERY Homeowner Needs to Know!

What to Know Before it Becomes a Headache and Useful Information
Joe and Jane try to sell their house with open permits
Information every homeowner should know

Every homeowner, whether you live in Southborough or in any city or town, needs to know a few basic things about permits and working with a contractor that you have hired to do work at your house- before it becomes a problem.  

All too common scenerio: homeowner Joe and Jane want to sell their house in Southborough.  They accept an offer from the McGregor's ( a lovely couple) and the closing date is scheduled.  The bank that is financing the purchase of the home tells the McGregor's and their realtor to make sure that there are no open permits on the home.  The McGregor's realtor gives us a call here in the Building Department and discovers that a Building Permit, and the associated Plumbing and Electrical permits, was never finalized for the big kitchen remodel Joe and Jane did about 15 years ago.  It's panic time.  What happens now?  There is a hard deadline in the closing and everyone is stressed out. 

Joe and Jane assumed, as most homeowners do, that the contractors they hired to do the work would make sure that the permit was pulled, the required inspections completed, and the permit finalized and closed out.  Ethical contractors always do what is required by law, however, many skip one or more of these steps.  Contractors are required to ensure that permits for their work are issued and inspected. If not, they are in violation and can face suspension or revocation of their license.  But here is the kicker - the homeowner is ultimately responsible to make sure that the contractors they hire are 1.) properly licensed, 2.) the appropriate permit(s) are pulled, 3.) the required inspections are performed at the correct intervals, and 4.) that the permit is closed out and finalized.  Your town's building department is your best resource in making sure these things are in place.

So now back to Joe and Jane.  They are now in the hotseat to deal with this issue of open permits from 15 years ago.  New permits will need to applied for, paid for, issued, and inspected. All work must comply with today's codes, and not the codes from 15 years ago which could result in even more money spent, more delays, and possibly the loss of the sale.Thankfully for Joe and Jane, everything was up to code and they were able to close on the house on time. 

Phew, that was stressful. Joe and Jane could have avoided this whole ordeal and saved themselves, and everyone else involved, a lot of sleepless nights if they found out within the last 15 years that the permit was never closed.  Lesson learned - don't assume the permit has been closed or even pulled in the first place.  You can save yourself a lot of costly issues down the road by making sure you are fully involved and informed about the work being done on your property.

Key take-aways:

  • Your Building Department is your biggest resource of information.  Call, email, or stop by anytime during business hours to find out all kinds of information about your property. Didn't take "Permits 101" in school??  Don't worry, we did and we are here to answer your questions.
  • Be fully involved with your contractors, the work they are doing, and the requirements and guidelines they need to follow.

Click on the links for some helpful information as well as resources for additional information.