Get the proper permits! Or you may pay dearly later.

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Planning on making modifications to your home? You may want to check if permits are required. And don’t count on a contractor to do it for you. Sometimes they may apply for the permit but the final inspection is never completed. Being involved and overseeing the permitting process yourself can help in avoiding big problems later on.

Obtaining the proper building permits from your local county/city, prior to making any modifications to your home that may require permitting, can save you money and time. A lot of frustration and stress can be avoided when it comes time to sell your home. Some of the things that may need permits are finishing an attic, basement, renovating a kitchen, changing from an electric to gas range, replacing your HVAC system, even adding a ceiling fan!

Building permits for home modifications has become a hot topic. Especially over the last few years. Recently I had a conversation about this with another local real estate professional. As it turned out we had similar situations, in the same area – the Town of Cary in North Carolina, but ended up with dramatically different outcomes. Both of us were dealing with sellers that had made modifications to their home without obtaining the proper building permits from the Town of Cary in this case.

First a little bit about Cary, NC. The Town of Cary is thriving community in the heart of the Triangle area of North Carolina, between Raleigh and the renowned Research Triangle Park (RTP). It is ideally centrally located – about 10 to 20 minutes to the surrounding cities of Chapel Hill, Durham, Morrisville, Apex, Raleigh and the RDU airport. Cary has been highly ranked as one of the best cities to live in America for years.  Exceptional  schools, tree-lined streets, well groomed subdivisions and office parks, greenways, parks, recreation and cultural resources, national and local restaurants (organic too) and shopping. These are some of the reasons many families choose Cary as a place to call home.  Learn more about Cary by visiting

Back to my conversation with the other real estate agent, which for the purpose of this post we will call Mary. Each of our clients had enclosed an existing screened porch – adding drywall, insulation, windows, electrical and tied in to the existing heating/cooling system. Now it came time to sell. In the state of North Carolina, sellers, with few exceptions, are required to complete the State of North Carolina Residential Property and Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement. On this disclosure there are specific questions in regards to modifications and obtaining permits

If the seller(s) failed to obtain proper permits then the seller(s) should disclose and check the “Yes” box for these questions and provide an explanation. Both of our clients checked the yes boxes and provided an explanation. The difference was, fortunately for us, our clients actually acted on our advice and went through obtaining the proper “after the fact” permits. Whereas Mary’s clients, against her wishes, decided not obtain permits.

Homes in Cary, North Carolina generally sell fairly quickly. Typically a home in Cary that shows well and is priced right will go under contract within the first couple of weeks of being placed on the market, and in many cases within the first 48 hours. Our client’s home, after only a few showings, went under contract within the first few days and we closed about forty-five days later.

Our clients did have to make some modifications to the work they had done in order to comply with current codes, which we will talk about in later posting.

Mary on the other hand is still sitting on a listing, over three months on the market to date, that should have closed long ago. Last time I spoke to Mary, she said they have had over 100 showings! That many showings is virtually unheard of in the Cary area. They have received a few offers for significantly less than the list price because of the unpermitted space. If Mary’s clients want to sell within the normal timeframe for this area and at true market value they will need to go through the permitting process. Mary said she told her clients “you can go through the pain now or later. But no matter what, you are most likely going to have to go through the permitting process unless you are willing to potentially sell your home for much lower than you anticipated.”

Our clients have been enjoying their new home for months now, including some beautiful renovations which were all done with the proper permits in place.

Whether you are selling or buying, if you have questions about modifications done or permits feel free to contact us at TruBlu Realty.