What I'm Seeing Now

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You Can't Do This If You Have Pulled A Permit

When you finish a basement, add an addition, raise the roof and add another level or whatever the remodel, and if you have pulled a permit, there are things you can do and things you can't do.  For sure, you can't do this if you have pulled a permit.

Walking into the laundry room advertised in the kitchen list of home features, which also said, "Be-sure-to-see-the-newly-finished basement!", I saw what appeared to be a sump pump discharge tube right in the corner. 

No way, I thought, it must be something else.

So I pulled away the carpet to have a look.  It's a sump pump!

The carpet is a little disturbed.  After I pulled it up to see the top I put it back somewhat for the photo!

I have been doing home inspections for a long time.

We inspectors tease that we will never see everything.

And we won't!

Just when one of us gets smug and thinks we have, something like this pops up!

Can you believe the builder put a pesky sump pump right in the corner where the wall needs to be!?

Well, this "professional remodeling company" couldn't either!

So they walled over it!

Even cuter, the wall receptacle ostensibly installed to service said sump pump is no where to be seen.

And whaddya know, no matter how I contorted myself to look into the convenient hole in the wall, I could not see it.

That means the hole was created prior to hanging the drywall, and a piece was cut for only part of the wall, so that the pump could be plugged in, and then the rest of that wall could be finished!

The receptacle is there, but who knows where!

And good luck getting into that pit to replace the sump pump! 

Oh, see that white cap?  It was glued so well that nobody could get in to disturb anything inside.  Silly, silly me for thinking I could look in and, well, you know, like, um, inspect the unit.

Don't think this was the only teensy hint that there was no permit pulled for the basement!  There was more fun!

I am told by the local county inspection offices that when permits are pulled to do any work, and that simply can't be for a lot of the work out there, but when a permit is pulled about 70% of the time there is no final inspection rendered, and the permit has not be closed. 

Closing the permit means that the county returned for a final inspection, had their say, and approved the work. 

Contractors pull the permit to be "within" the law, but then somehow don't think it important to call the county in for that annoying final inspection.  And the oftentimes unsuspecting homeowner is left holding the bag, or in this case, the basement!

AND SOMEONE GETS TO BUY IT WHEN THE HOUSE IS SOLD!

My recommendation:  there are ways to insure that your clients are protected when the home inspector runs up against unprofessional work.  And there are ways to get the county back to approve work that has been done.  But always make any work that follows proper, if possible, and/or to code.  Unlike this little sump pump here.

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 64 commentsJay Markanich • March 03 2013 03:17AM

Comments

You wrote: 

"Contractors pull the permit to be "within" the law, but then somehow don't think it important to call the county in for that annoying final inspection."

NOT ON MY WATCH!!

 


Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 6 years ago

Wow, that is crazy.

Also, BTW, assuming it's over concrete, that's the wrong type of carpet pad.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 6 years ago

Ostensibly? You silver tongued devil you! I see nothing wrong here, they covered it up with carpet! And, if someday in the future when they need to replace the pump, all they really need to do is take a chainsaw and cut an access out of the wall. Viola! If you want a wall in a particular place, you shouldn't be restricted by the placement of a silly sump pump!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) about 6 years ago

I knows it Lenn.  I knows it.  So do your clients.

Debbie - you would have had a field day in this house.  They buried the dishwasher behind ceramic tile and sub floor, did not extend the "new" tile all the way under the range so it tiled delightfully, and the toilets were all glued in place!  Wonderful...

Fred - we try to be PO-lite.  Po, po chow.  You play the viola?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Fear of permits...a common mallady...goes with fear of being taxed.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 6 years ago

And when all is said and done, they are avoiding very little tax increase S&D!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay - LOL, oh my. 

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 6 years ago

'Twas a fun day, my dear.  'Twas.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Good Morning, Jay. Give that man another star!!! Interesting find. And you are right, just when we think we have seen it all...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) about 6 years ago

Well, Michael, as I have said before, we ain't seen it all, and we cain't see it all.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Just got off the phone with Uncle Bob and he said he had nothing to do with this one.  After looking at the handiwork he was impressed with the workmanship.  I just hang my head in wonderment :~)

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) about 6 years ago

His initials were written behind the wall James.  He lied.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Debbie knows about flooring, comment #2, good catch, and that electric is crazy, WOW!

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) about 6 years ago

I like Lenn's approach. I know some agents here that look for permits before listing properties and for the buyer's new house. Cuts down on those nasty surprises. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 6 years ago

Ken - like I said, she would have had a field day in this house!

Jim - fewer surprises mean fewer surprises.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Seriously Jay?  How on earth could they have thought that was okay?  By the way, Realtors® say the same thing about "just when you think you've seen it all."

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) about 6 years ago

So what's the big deal? When they did the work they didn't expect it would ever need to be repaired, or re-wired, or anything.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) about 6 years ago

Charita - and I have heard them say it!

Ed - it won't, for sure.  It will last forever!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I've heard of Buyers that wanted to request that the Sellers remove an entire finished basements, walls, ceiling, etc. because they found out that it wasn't done with a permit.  It was a mess!!  It was worked out in the end ,but not without a lot of problems. Needless to say, not pulling a permit came back to bite them. 

Posted by Kathleen "Kathy" Price, CRS, Broker Associate, Southern NJ (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Fox & Roach, Realtors) about 6 years ago

Kathleen - I have done many inspections where the lack of a permit was not worked out and the deal fell through.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

It's a good things it's not something mechanical that needs regular maintenance...

Wait a minute ... it IS something that needs regular maintenance!!!

All I can say is "wow!"

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) about 6 years ago

Fantastic post, Jay! And very timely.  I'm dealing with a finished basement that was done without a permit... Funny how a seller thinks it's the BUYERS problem...! Congrats on the feature.

Posted by Brenda Mayette, Getting results w/ knowledge & know-how! (Miranda Real Estate Group, Inc.) about 6 years ago

I wish I had take a photo of the one I saw a few weeks ago in a remodeled basement of home in Dumfries.  I had to look a few times as well.  It was a similiar situation but instead of carpet it was ceramic tile.  Wonder if the sellers were related?

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 6 years ago

It is amazing what you will find if you pull back a carpet or peak through an open wall. I guess that is why I love homes that are somewhat torn up.  A good opportunity to see the guts of the home.

Posted by Tonia Rahming, Relocation Specialist (RMS Realty, St Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach Counties) about 6 years ago

Isn't this fun Richard!?

Brenda - it will be the buyer's problem when there's a problem and insurance won't cover it...

Cindy - it is a large family, seemingly populating the entirety of Northern Virginia.

Tonia - wow, that must be some torn up house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I never think to see if a permit has been closed.  I would think that a home seller would have to disclose  the presence of former presence of a sump pump.

Posted by Edward Gilmartin (CRE) about 6 years ago

In Virginia there is no disclosure requirement Edward.  It is truly caveat emptor.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago
Thank you for the reminder to check permits for work that was done.
Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) about 6 years ago

That's very important Gita.  Buyers need to know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

That is amazing that they would do something as silly as that. As a homeowner you ought to at least know that you can run a cord through a wall to get to a hidden receptacle.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) about 6 years ago

I read on the internet that if you pulled a permit that all the remodeling work was A-OK. And they can't put anything on the internet if it isn't true. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) about 6 years ago

Than - this wall was built to be able to plug in but not plug out!

Scott - that's what I hear.  Which is why I post.     ;>)

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Over top of the sump pump, that's new one.  I can't wait until the sump pump conks out in a couple years and they have to replace it. 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) about 6 years ago

That might not happen to my clients Marc!  And this is an estate sale, so the sellers don't care!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay, this just doesn't make any sense. Now we know why it was covered up with carpet.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA about 6 years ago

Didn't the carpet finish off the room nicely Mike?

Yeah, that's it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Rut ro, we have (sniff sniff) back up. Oohhh that smell ( cranks up, Lynyrd Skynyrd wails) of sewer not just ground water when it's the lift pump for a private engineered leachfield.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) about 6 years ago

Jay...when someone sells a house, all their deep dark short-cuts and secrets come to light...your profession I am sure is never dull..good post

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 6 years ago

nice one.... I guess they'll get to do another "remodel" when the sump pump dies...

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) about 6 years ago

Jay, The first thing a buyer needs to do is get preapproval for a mortgage, the last thing they need to do is have the property inspected. I am in Florida and I don't see too many sump pumps. Maybe they are hidden? Maybe this is how we do it in Florida. Great post as it really applies to all home renovations and what they try to get away with.

Posted by Mark Horan, "The Resident Chef" - Resident Team Realty LLC & (Resident Team Realty, LLC & Toni's Property Management LLC) about 6 years ago

Nice job... now we await a fire behind the wall when a spark flies...

Posted by Paul Silver, Rhode Island full service real estate firm about 6 years ago

Holy cow!  Incredible what some people try to get away with!  Thank goodness for quality inspectors like yourself.

Posted by Kelly McGovern, Working with Kelly is a good move (Realty Concierge International) about 6 years ago

I get crazed by people who want to save a few bucks on the work they do. It always costs them more in the end when buyers are looking for permits, inspection history, etc. Spend it right upfront and don't have issues later that hold up sales.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage ) about 6 years ago

Jay, that is nuts.  Is it a sump or an ejector pump?  Either way it looks like a sealed lid and would require a vent---of course perhaps that is in the wall:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) about 6 years ago

Was the remodeling company licensed? There are some real hacks out there. My first question would be what is that tube in the corner?

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) about 6 years ago

Leave it up to you Jay to find these things.  Absolutely unbelieveable!

Posted by Cheryl Thomson REALTOR Army Ret, Associate Broker in Northern Virginia ( United Real Estate (703.216.5635) cheryltee47@gmail.com) about 6 years ago

I just had this conversation with a seller yesterday. He made an improvement to the home by enclosing a porch. I asked if he got a permit for the work he completed. It had never occurred to him. He had hoped to include it as square footage but it's not heated. Silly him for spending money for no reason. Maybe he should have called an agent prior to doing the work.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay  Since this is rural Colorado we see a lot of additions with new bedrooms and baths but they did not change the septic tank for a larger one.  Then I am explaining to the new buyer their options.  And, then there are the agents that don't every check this stuff!

Posted by John G. Johnston, An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO (John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC) about 6 years ago

This type of failure to pull a permit or have a final inspection happens all too often.  With the lack of inventory some buyers are simply overlooking this.  I am surprised how many folk do this.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) about 6 years ago

This is so good and I am so glad that YOU shared this with us.

Posted by Ginger Harper, Your Southport~Oak Island Agent~Brunswick County! (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage) about 6 years ago

Oh, now that's going to be a problem one day.  I do find it fascinating how people come up with some of these solutions.   Creativity abounds.

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) about 6 years ago

I never cease to be amazed that homeowners go the expense of pulling a permit and do not close it out. Ignorance…I imagine. Their contractor did not point out that the inspector needs to come back to close out the permit. Expense of the inspection holding them back? Not significant compared to the potential expense of not finalizing the permit.

Posted by John Juarez, ePRO, SRES, GRI, PMN (The Medford Real Estate Team) about 6 years ago

How did the contractor purpose to hide that mess? A home inspector would have to be blind not to find a problem with that installation. 

Posted by Johnathan R. Therriault, Inspecting the Pocono's, one house at a time. (JTHIS-Professional Home Inspection Team ) about 6 years ago
Amazingly sad remodel and as some say "how did they think this would ever be passed off?".
Posted by Pete Xavier, Outstanding Agent Referrals-Nationwide (Investments to Luxury) about 6 years ago

Andrew - this house is on a public sewer, not a leachfield, but who knows what this pump is lifting!  If it works...

Richie - never dull.  But I will never see it all!

Alan - what if it never dies!  Aggghhhh!!!

Mark - on slabs you wouldn't need sump pumps.

Paul - no one would ever see the spark!  Just the fire.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Kelly - for all I know this guy doesn't know this is incorrect!

Nina - this kind of work NEVER saves bucks!

Charlie - just a sump.  There is a lot about it that I don't know!

Pamela - who knows as to the "contractor."  That tube is the discharge tube for the pump.

Cheryl - when the listing "features" state there is a remodeled basement, I know I am in for some fun!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Tammie - had he contacted you, would he have listened?

John - houses on septics sometimes increase the number of bedrooms here too, illegally.  But such is the way!

Joan - one can't be so desperate to buy that they would want to inherit all that is going on with this house!

Ginger - we do have fun here.  And glad you're enjoying it!

Mike - this guy was creative all over the basement!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

John - I am too, but in this case I don't know if any permit was ever pulled.

Johnathan - there were a LOT of things in this house the inspector found.  And many just as crazy as this.

Peter - there was no intention of having this passed off!  They just wanted someone else to buy it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I guess they didn't want to pull an electrical permit?

Posted by Richard T. Dolbeare, R(B), ABR, CRS...Hawaii Multi-Island Specialist (Keller Williams Realty Maui) about 6 years ago

That and a couple of others Richard!  The place was a mess.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

Jay -- surprised that with that electrical connection so far behind the wall that they didn't move one of those walls another 4-6" and bury the pipe also -- that could have been REALLY interesting.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 6 years ago

Would have Steven, but I still would have known there was a sump pump under there!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

I guess they thought no one would really notice, or mind it at all! This is hilarious.

 

Posted by Athina Boukas, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) (Virginia Capital Realty) about 6 years ago

Athina - hard not to notice, but if there was a flood it would get noticed real quick!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 6 years ago

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