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Put Down Your Hammer… Did You Get A Permit For That?

Posted by Kassandra Carrazco on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 at 1:13pm

Before congratulations are in order for that new enclosed patio or outdoor kitchen, let’s verify that what you expected to add value to your property won’t actually be costing you more money in the long run…

It has been my unfortunate experience to encounter many sellers disappointed to hear that the $20,000 they spent on renovations to their home might not have raised their value, but in fact, will be a hindrance in the sale of their home. This disadvantage can come in many forms such as insurance problems, required repairs, major appraisal issues, and the fact that most buyers are simply too intimidated to purchase a property without the proper building permits.

The temptation of avoiding permits can be strong, especially when you consider that your property taxes might go up when the city finds out about that new bathroom or additional square footage… It can also be a hassle to follow building safety codes and have the work inspected at every stage of construction.

Additionally, many homeowners avoid building permits because of the misconception that permits are expensive! Sure, the cost is more than just a few dollars, but the return on investment can be so much more valuable than just knowing that you won’t have to worry about a neighbor complaining about the smoke from your new firepit and having the city require you to remove it.

An example of the high value a permit can add to your property is my recent experience with Allan- a seller with an enclosed patio on his property in the Yuma Foothills. When taking the listing, Allan was proud to show me the beautiful craftsmanship that went into building the enclosed patio. Complete with tiled flooring, insulation, and a window unit, this extra room was impressive!

Unfortunately, despite the high-quality construction, Allan had not applied for a permit for any of this work. As an experienced agent could tell you, this may not have been a total loss. In some cases, you can apply for a variance or apply for a permit retroactively. But because Allan had not followed the building safety codes like footings around the patio slab, and treated wood at the base, we were faced with two options – rebuild the proper way or remove everything.

In the end, the beautiful walls came down and the debris was cleared away. Now there is a nice open patio with tile flooring and an insulated roof. The home is still beautiful and went under contract within a few weeks. But what a shame it was to have to take down such an attractive selling point that would have added thousands to the value of the home with its appeal and additional square footage, had it only been permitted from the start…

Let this true story be a warning to anyone considering skipping the nominal fee to permit even the most minimal home improvement project, like a shade structure. Contact the Building Safety Division of the City of Yuma Department of Community Development for more information about permitting fees and procedures.

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