On numerous occasions throughout the years I have encountered issues with improvements made to homes where the owners did not obtain the necessary city or county permits before beginning the project. In most cases the owners were unaware of the requirements and in some the owners or their contractors just didn’t want to deal with the red tape involved.

Often city and county regulators are unaware of the improvements and the homeowner is fine with the work that was accomplished. The problem arises when the homeowner decides to sell the property. In many cases a potential buyer’s home inspector discovers substandard workmanship on the project, which then raises a red flag and puts the sale in jeopardy.

Without the proper permits, an appraiser may not add value to a home for the improvements. In one particular case that I am aware of, a homeowner had built a mother-in-law's quarters in their back yard in violation of building and zoning requirements and the appraiser would not consider its value when the buyer’s lender had the property appraised.

In another case a homeowner decided to build a large deck with engineered wood within the Flagstaff city limits and without a permit. The construction was almost complete when a neighbor complained to city officials. After a review by city building officials, the homeowner was ordered to dismantle and dispose of the deck materials at considerable expense.

County and city ordinances have specific requirements for many home improvements. If you plan to do any major renovations on your home or property, check with the building authorities in Coconino County or your municipality to find out if the work requires a permit. If you are hiring a contractor, make sure that they obtain the proper permits before starting the job. A building inspector will keep track of the work and ensure that it is completed in accordance with accepted building standards and codes.

The time required and the cost of a permit for your home renovation project is minimal compared to the loss of value that you may incur when you decide to sell. When you have a permit signed off as completed by the proper authority, you have the peace of mind that the work was done correctly and you can provide that finalized permit to a potential buyer.

Mary Monday is an Associate Broker at RE/MAX Peak Properties. She can be contacted at (928) 214-7325 or Mary@MaryMonday.com.