When homeowners are going to build or remodel something in their home, do they really need a permit? It might seem tempting to just skip this step, but as you’ll see, it can have some horrendous consequences.

A client of mine is currently buying a home here in Washington. However, he needs to sell his home in Alaska first. Things were going just great until he found out that there was a problem with the garage he had built behind his Alaska home. The county found that the garage was built three feet into the setback from the property line. He had to go in front of the zoning board to ask for a variance to be able to sell his property with the garage. They said no.

Now the owner has to take three feet off his garage, and that involves removing the stairs, the roof, and changing the foundation. “It’s important to consider all the possible consequences.” He thought he was making the right move because he was very handy and knew how to build a garage. What he did not take into account was that he needed a permit. If he would have spent the $100 or so to get the permit, he could have discovered the setback and updated his building plans accordingly.

Now it is going to cost him more than $18,000 to remove three feet from the corner of his garage. We’re confident that we’ll be able to find a solution in the end, but the transaction is a hot mess right now. He’s wishing he got that permit right about now, and you would too if this happened to you.

So, when you’re considering a remodel or home improvement project, ask yourself what the possible consequences could be. If they’re anywhere near the trouble that this seller had to go through, go ahead and get a permit. It will save you much more in the long run.

UPDATE: As it turns out, this my client had originally gotten the permit for his garage. However, he changed the project plans after getting the permit and did not check with the county. He wanted the lines of the garage to match his house instead of the property line. So he turned the garage, and that’s when the corner of the garage pushed into that setback.

Since he didn’t follow up with anyone about his permit after changing the plans, he’s dealing with a lot of heartache along with the almost $20,000. He lost his Alaska buyer and the Washington home he was hoping to move into.

This is still a lesson in not only acquiring a permit, but following a permit closely.

If you have any questions for me don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I would love to hear from you!