Selling a House with Unpermitted Work

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Performing a home improvement project is a perfect way to bring you more home value and attract potential buyers. Unfortunately, the home renovation process can get complex, and numerous remodeling projects require a building permit. 

You may negatively impact your home sale by trying to sell it with unpermitted work completed. Also, doing so could negatively impact the buyer’s ability to gain a loan and purchase the home. 

Unpermitted work involves home construction that does not comply with the city ordinances and building regulations. In such a case, some renovations on the home were completed without the local city building department’s knowledge. 

Selling a house with unpermitted work may spell legal trouble for you. Even if the previous homeowners were the ones who completed the unpermitted work, if you don’t disclose the information to home buyers, you may face legal consequences when the new buyers eventually discover it. 

You will find that some major and even minor renovations require a permit. The permit shows that you complied with your local region’s zoning and land-use rules. While permit requirements differ by state, most permits deal with upgrades like adding a room, changing windows, or building a garage.

Many homeowners unintentionally complete renovations without gaining a permit. At the end of the day, when sellers have unpermitted work done, they experience significant problems when they want to sell the house, as it looks like a red flag to buyers. 

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What if a House Seller Didn’t Disclose Unpermitted Work in Virginia?

Many new home buyers get very excited about purchasing their first home and fail to do their due diligence. As such, they may end up with a home where renovations and additions were completed without permits. The home seller should first gain all the permits necessary to complete renovations legally to avoid these outcomes.

Home sellers can retroactively gain permits for any home improvement projects. Hopefully, the city will only require an inspection of the renovations before providing the retroactive permit. However, you may need to redo the upgrades to align with city zoning laws and specifications.

Furthermore, home sellers can sell their place in an as-is condition as long as they disclose any work done without a permit. Letting your buyers know the details upfront is vital. 

What is the average cost to sell a house in VA? According to Redfin, the median list price of homes in Virginia is $421,210. However, if you lack permits, you may need to reduce the price of your home to attract potential buyers.

Yet, if a house seller did not disclose unpermitted work in Virginia, the buyer can always back out of the sale. 

If you conceal the proper permits on your home improvement, the current home buyer can sue you in a court of law. You risk facing hefty court fines and permit costs to fix the issues. Also, you will need to hire a contractor and pay them to fix the unpermitted renovations. 

If the previous owner fails to reveal the unpermitted work, the new owner can sue them for misleading real estate practices. For instance, the buyer may find that their insurance company will not provide coverage for an unpermitted addition. However, disclosure makes the buyer aware of their risks when purchasing the property.

When compiling a case against a previous homeowner, a lawyer guides the buyer through each aspect to incorporate and seek damages. For instance, you may need to cover the costs of repairing any damage, fines by the city, and individual items lost due to unpermitted work. 

Documenting a House with Unpermitted Improvements in Virginia

You will need to have a complete and accurate history of the renovations conducted at your home. Documenting all the unpermitted home improvements is vital to complete and then disclose to the new buyers. 

For instance, you should keep track of the type of upgrades the prior homeowner completed, such as an add-on to the garage or a previously constructed third bedroom. Find out if the prior owner installed a new fence, redid the roof, or renovated the bathrooms. 

Document all of the work done and find out if the renovations had permits or not. You can seek much of the information from city and municipality inspectors.

Virginia Home Improvement Permit Laws

Homeowners looking to sell their place should follow all home improvement permit laws in Virginia or risk the difficulties of selling a house with unpermitted work. Following local laws, safeguards, and building codes is essential to avoid legal trouble.

In Virginia, there are various laws related to building additions to a home, renovating the roof, or even painting the house. You don’t want to spend time and money remodeling a home only to find out that your additions are not up to code.

You will need to have your Virginia home inspected before you can gain a permit for additional work. Doing so will help ensure your plans won’t compromise the safety of your property and will align with all current laws. 

You won’t harm the home’s value if you adhere to all home improvement permit laws. The best way to adhere to the building codes and align with all permit laws is to hire a home remodeling service that will handle all of these issues for you.

Can You Sell a House with Unpermitted Work in Virginia?

You can still sell a home with unpermitted work in the state of Virginia. You have two options for selling your place if it has unpermitted work. First, you can sell your house as-is. You may want to sell to a cash home buyer, house flipper, or real estate investor in such a case.

Your second option is to get some retroactive permits when you’re ready to sell your home. In this case, you may need to redo some of the renovations to adhere to current building codes.

Tips & Advice for Selling a House with Unpermitted Work in Virginia

When you start selling a house with unpermitted work in Virginia, you may want to get a retroactive permit that follows the necessary building code. In addition, you can get a home inspection completed by an expert from the city who will ensure everything follows city zoning laws and ordinances.

You may find that the home inspector will require you to complete new projects according to city and municipality ordinances. Some of the typical renovations which need a permit include:

  • Installing fences
  • Putting in new windows
  • Completing plumbing and electrical work
  • Adding siding to a house
  • Installing a new water heater

Furthermore, some regions require you to get a permit if all the work you put into a home exceeds a specific cost, usually $5,000 or more.

If you do not pursue a retroactive permit, you can also try to sell your house as-is in its current condition. Doing so can help prevent the hassle of redoing any renovations or completing new home improvement projects.

We buy houses in Nashville Tennessee! If you have a house with unpermitted works in Nashville, call us at (757) 530-5353 and know how you can do it fast!


If you are selling a house as is in Virginia, you may want to find cash home buyers in Virginia Beach. Often, house flippers, real estate investors, and other companies that buy houses in Norfolk tend to purchase homes in need of home improvements in as-is conditions at lower prices. Then, they renovate the houses and sell them at higher profits. 

You’ll be happy to learn that we buy houses in Virginia. We will provide you with a fair price without requiring any renovations. Contact us today to learn more. 

Do you want to learn more about how to find buyers for your house in Norfolk? We can help! Give us a call or send us a message today! 866-833-5262