Q: I recently bought a home. The previous owners did improvements to the home, but they did it without pulling a permit for the work.

The main problem is the town has no record of the home as the building department doesn’t keep records or blueprints past 15 years. The house is 50 years old.

A: I guess I’m really not sure what problem you’re facing. Are you concerned about the quality of the improvements the previous owners made? Or, is the village now causing trouble for things that were done without permits and might, in fact, be against current code?

In situations where buyers purchase homes that had work done without pulling a permit, the local building department typically works with the new home owner to issue a permit covering the work that was already done. Yes, the owners pay the permit fee, but that’s usually the extent of it, if the work was done properly. Then, the building department considers the property to be in compliance.

If you hadn’t already closed on the property, you could have asked the homeowners to go to the village and work this out as a condition of closing. If they refused, you could have approached to the building department to find out what it would take to close the books on this issue.

Since you’ve closed, you can either sue the seller in small claims court for not pulling the correct permits (and paying the permit fees) or, you can just work out a deal with the local building officials.

Since the house is 50 years old and the improvements are at least 15 years old, the town officials should be more than willing to help you out with your situation. The real issue for you is to make sure that the work was done properly.

May 20, 2005.