Permit or Not to Permit?

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  #1  
Old 02-03-12, 11:12 AM
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Permit or Not to Permit?

Just to provide a little back history...I bought a house with a finished basement/bathroom (Well...at least thats what they called it). That next summer I got a lot of water in my basement and decided to gut the basement to stop the mold from growing. I installed french drains and have taken care of the water problem. I now would like to re finish the basement. I've been going back and forth on whether or not to get permits. One of my major concerns is that my basement ceiling height is only 6' 10". I have heard that you need a minimum of 7' in order to finish a basement in the state of NJ. If thats true would the town not allow me to finish this area even though I paid for a home with a basement and 2nd bath?
 
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  #2  
Old 02-03-12, 11:25 AM
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Different municipalities usually have different laws and requirements. If you go to your city/town's website, you should be able to email the L&I dept. and ask them. They'll probably respond right away.
 
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Old 02-03-12, 01:39 PM
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If you bought the house thinking the basement was refinishable, then that's on you. The Realtor should have known and should have told you. It should never have been listed if the ceiling height was less than the AHJ would allow. That is what a home inspection is for. Not a home inspection from a Realtor's grab bag, but one you choose independently. Sorry for not having better information for you, but if you finish it without permits, and the AHJ finds out, they can make you tear it all out, I mean all of it. Not only that your insurance rates will increase, and any problem normally covered by insurance may not be covered if permits aren't acquired.
 
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Old 02-03-12, 05:48 PM
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How can the town recognize it as being finished if you arent allowed to have a ceiling lower than 7 foot? It didnt stop them from assessing taxes based on having 2nd bathroom and finished area?
 
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Old 02-03-12, 05:54 PM
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You may surely have a basis for an appeal. If they won't approve construction for a ceiling of less than 7', yet are assessing taxes on a finished area they didn't inspect, then they would have some answering to do, IMO
 
  #6  
Old 02-03-12, 06:42 PM
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If you appeal, you could get the valuation reduced.

Unfortunately, the usable square footage will be less, the market value will decrease and you will have a more limited sales market when you go to sell, especially when it comes to financing for buyers.

If the the remodeling was permitted somehow and approved, you would have the "golden certificate" of occupancy to justify a legal livable space. This is one of the areas where a permit is valuable in the future, if you can get approval.

Dick
 
  #7  
Old 02-06-12, 03:45 AM
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There was no mention of age, but wouldn't this be grandfathered in. And wouldn't you be able to repair the damage without bring it up to current codes. Where I live, if your remodel doesn't exceed curtain percentage, you don't need to bring the whole house up to codes.
 
  #8  
Old 02-06-12, 07:00 AM
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For code violations, very often the conditions are "grandfathered" and accepted.

When it comes to selling, the appraiser looks at the value of the home for value on the market and a low ceiling may be legal, but limits the amount a home can get on the market. Most appraisers are not dumb and recognize that the change of use creates different standards. A prime example is adding basement bedrooms without and egress window (life safety item) that makes the usable square footage less, so the value is less and the allowable loan amount could reduce the number of people that could be qualified by the loan company.

Sometimes it is hard to separate the code items from the market value items and the financial items.

Dick
 
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