Q: I have recently been contacted by the local building inspector who brought it to my attention that the fence and deck on the house I purchased about 1 1/2 years ago never had a permit for it. I am the 3rd owner of the house, which is only 4 years old now, and I have no idea who built either the deck or fence. I’m hoping to find out from my neighbor which of the previous owners did in fact build them. Is this something that the real estate agent should check into prior to the close of the house? Does title insurance cover things such as this purchase of a building permit. I would appreciate any information that you could provide.
A: Don’t sweat this one too much. Go to your local building department and ask them how you can come into compliance. For most, this will mean you’ll have to pay the building permit fee, which shouldn’t cost you much money. The inspector will probably come out to make sure everything is structurally sound.
Should this have been disclosed? I think so — probably by the seller. You could go after the seller, but I’d reserve that option in case the deck turns out to be structurally unsafe.