Profile picture for ca1973

Question about illegal patio addition

I'm about to purchase a home in a neighborhood with HOA. The house has a covered patio addition in the back. But when I received the sellers' property disclosure today, they indicate the patio was built without permission.
Not only that, we noticed a big crack going all the way from the ceiling to the floor where the patio meets the house.
Some questions...
From a legal point of view, what are the implications of me buying a home with an illegal add-on, mainly if we consider the house has HOA?
How should I approach the seller about this? Should I request a big credit to cover any possible major repairs?
The house has a mountain right behind it, which makes me even more worried about the illegal, unauthorized add-on.
Overall, the house is really nice and the price is good. The patio also looks nice, but that disclosure and the crack raised a red flag.

Thank you for your help.
  • March 12 2012 - Los Angeles
  • 0
    0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

Answers (6)

Profile picture for Blue Nile
A permit is not a big issue to get, if standard construction practices were followed, especially if it easy to inspect.  The footings for the support posts may be an issue since an inspector cannot see those.

The bigger issues are:
1) Will the HOA allow covered patios at all?  If the HOA didn't approve it, it likely needs to come down regardless of what the building department says.  You may need to attend a board meeting and speak during public comment to find out, or send a letter to the board president or chairman.

2) How was the covered patio attached to the house?  Separate structures need the ability to move separately.  There are all kinds of expansion joints that can be used, but if done by the homeowner, they likely skipped that issue.  You may need to do some modifications where the structures meet to address this issue.  There also may be some seismic bracing issues.

Likely the crack is only cosmetic and is not that big a deal to address.  but you may have water leaks where the patio roof meets the house if you don't address the issue.

If you pull a permit, likely the building inspector will give you some clues what you need to do to fix the situation.
  • April 12 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Oh brother..I really dislike illegal construction work!
In my professional opinion..unpermitted work is poor work and will likely have to be taken down. A patio is not normally part of the square footage so you aren't really paying for it. If it's expensive to take down and/or replace it then you do have an issue with price.
In your offer you can ask for a credit for that. I am hoping you are working with your own "buyer agent" because it has to be worded correctly on the contracts.
  • April 12 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Another thought to consider...You should check with the HOA. Many HOA's will require a property inspection to ensure the home is in compliance with the HOA's standards. The inspection review will vary based upon each HOA's standards, but can include anyting from unauthorized additions to ensuring the window screens are the appropriate style and condition. The inspection helps protect the values of the home in an HOA community. Also, the inspection prior to the property transfer allows the items that need to be fixed, replaced or removed to be negotiated as part of the contract. Since you are dealing with an unauthorized/unpermitted patio addition, the HOA may provide you with additional negotiating leverage.

Since you are just receiving the seller's disclosure, I will assume you haven't removed inspection contingencies. During your inspection period, hire a contractor to come in and give you an estimate as to how much it will cost to permit the structure or just help you understand if such structure would even be allowed by local business codes. Knowing that information will certainly help you understand what the next best step is for you.
  • March 13 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Appraisal guy
From an appraiser point of view, I'd make sure that the proper permits have been taken out and paid for BEFORE you buy this home. Some banks will not allow you to refinance until you get the proper permits for the addition. Secondly, it may be dangerous or improperly installed, fire hazard or other hazards. Have them fix it. Get it in writing and call the city permit center to be sure or WALK. You do not want to buy someone's problems.
  • March 13 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Unfortunately, a majority of homes have work done to them without proper permits. In most cities you are required to pull a permit if you change a light switch or change out your dishwasher. So it's almost impossible to find a home that has pulled a permit on everything that is required. It's up to you as a home buyer to weigh what is acceptable and what is not. If some one took down a ceiling light and added a ceiling fan without a permit, most people would probably overlook that. However, if someone added a 2000 sq ft second story with a bathroom without a permit, that would probably be unacceptable. The bigger problem is the HOA. Most cities do not have patrols that look for unpermitted items at homes, however in many HOA's, they look for people who do things like this.

As a Realtor we are required to give you the legal options and answers, but the permit requirements are such that it's not possible to follow all of them. For example, it's possible that the patio cover at the home you are buying may not have been possible if the homeowner tried to pull a permit, so they decided to do it anyway because the neighbors didn't mind and it makes "Common Sense". Patio Covers and roofs are two of the most common large items that home owners do not permit.

You basically have 3 options. Accept the house as it is knowing that it was not permitted, cancel the transaction and find another house or try to renegotiate with the seller. You can not force the home owner to do anything. Either way, you have to measure the pros and cons and make the final decision.

Personally, I would knock on neighbors doors and talk to them about the HOA before I did anything else. You might find a neighbor who tells you that they have been complaining to the HOA Board for years about that Patio Cover or they may tell you that most of the home owners have added Patio Covers and it's not a big deal.

  • March 13 2012
  • 0Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.

Profile picture for Sharon Lewis
I would suggest you ask the homeowner to pull a permit on it or tear it down because if you proceed with the sale, that non permitted space becomes your problem and when you go to sell, the buyers can ask you to pull it down or permit it. If your home burns down, the insurance company may deny your claim because of nonpermitted space....(who did the wiring) Its a huge issue, don't buy without this being resolved please.
  • March 13 2012
  • 1Yes

  • Report a Problem

    Please enter a valid email address.

    Content flagged

    We will review this content. Thanks for helping make the site more useful to everyone. To learn more, read Zillow's Good Neighbor Policy.

    We're sorry. This service is temporarily unavailable. Please come back later and try again.