As the premier master-planned city in the United States, Irvine runs a pretty tight ship in terms of building permits and code compliance. The Irvine Building and Safety Division is constantly busy issuing permits, reviewing plans, and responding to code violations reported by inspection teams deployed across the city. Even with all the close attention paid to code compliance, deviations from the rules are known to happen from time to time, and you may even realize this after you have purchased a house for sale in Irvine. If you suspect or discover unpermitted work has taken place in your new Irvine property, here are a few recommendations you should consider.
Determine How Much Unpermitted Work Was Performed
Many homeowners suspect work may have been done without permits when something seems a little different about their properties. In a carefully planned city such as Irvine, it’s easy to tell when something looks radically different from other homes in the neighborhood. If your house is the only one with a covered lanai and a summer kitchen in the entire subdivision, you should take a look at the blueprints, which you can get from the Building and Safety Division at the Civic Center Plaza. Any structures that do not appear on the drawings were probably built without permits.
Assume Responsibility for the Work
There are various degrees of code violations that may be related to unpermitted work. For example, a small wine cellar next to the kitchen island is not the same as a wine chiller that has been directly wired to the stove’s electrical outlet without a permit or inspection. Regardless of the extent of the code violation, you need to assume responsibility for it, which in many cases means bringing the work to compliance now that you are the homeowner.
Consider Legal Action
You may have some legal recourse regarding the unpermitted work you discover. If it was egregious, you may want to discuss your options with an attorney. If real estate agents were involved in the sale of the property, they should have informed the buyer of the code issues. In some cases, the title insurance policy should have caught the problems and provide coverage, but this is largely confined to premium owner’s policies and not the standard title insurance issued to the mortgage lender.
Bring the Work into Compliance
The most important aspect of unpermitted work involves seeking a remedy. If you are lucky, an inspector may determine the work performed is up to code. In this case, you will only have to pay for the permits and not for the fines arising from violations. The worst-case scenario will involve enforcement, which may include an order to tear down existing work or perform extensive modifications while adhering to a deadline. The upside to this situation is that permitted work will be recorded with the potential of increasing the value of your property.
Unpermitted work is just one of the many things you should watch for when hunting for real estate. Irvine, CA, real estate agents can help you find the home you’re looking for and avoid those that might be problematic. Contact one of the friendly agents at Irvine Residential Living today at 714-454-6304.