Is your house paperwork ready for sale?

Along with preparing a house for sale, it’s important for a homeowner to make sure their property is paperwork ready. Some realtors will research a property at the building department before listing but not all do. Homeowners should ask to view the building file for their property to check for any issues. Some municipalities may require a FOIL (Freedom of Information Law) request to view the file.

The Code Enforcer

Linda Nilon, Certified Code Enforcement Official with New York State

Homeowners should look for: Any known open Violations that were never addressed, any expired building permits that were never closed, all Certificates of Occupancy and Compliance for work the resident knows they’ve done and completed.

Work done without permits pops up as violations. Did the resident put in an above ground pool, finished their basement, put on a new deck? This requires permits and the banks will want to see those permits. If work was done without the permits the homeowner should contact their local building department to rectify it before it pops up a week before closing.

I’ve had violations pop up last minute, which have caused delays in closing. The violations can be time consuming that buyers walk away. It’s really important to be paperwork ready so if issues arise, they can be addressed immediately.

The Architect

Kathleen Rifkin, Architect

Whenever a homeowner does renovation work on their house, they should check first with their municipality to see if a building permit is required. I often get calls from people who are either selling their house or from a potential homeowner who wants to buy a house about open permits or work done without permits. The building inspector will recommend calling an architect to certify the work that was done and may require the work to be brought up to the current code vs. the code that was in effect at the time the work was done. The architect has to go in and ask to have things uncovered to see what was done and then do drawings and/or a letter to show remedial work and once that work is completed, to certify that the work complies. The code changes every 3 years. If work was done many years ago, there will most likely be remedial work. Remedial work takes time, and as Linda stated, this could cause a delay or cancellation of a sale.

The things we have to check for are egress, all basements and bedrooms require a second means of egress meeting a certain size (besides the entrance door into the room under the current code – bedrooms always had this requirement but it was just added for basements under the last code update, light & ventilation (all habitable rooms require a certain percentage of their area to be lit and ventilated), energy (insulation values in walls, ceilings & floors from work done a long time ago often do not meet current codes), and structure (sizes of floor joists, roof rafters, etc.).

The Realtor

“No one likes going to the dentist but if you have a cavity, eventually you’ll have to go. The longer you wait, the more pain you may experience so you might as well go sooner than later”, John Olivero of Griffith Olivero Realtors, Goshen