Non-permitted Additions

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Non-permitted Additions

“What is the big #$%^&*@! deal with non-permitted additions?”

The last few weeks I have noted a common theme in my conversations with appraisers across the nation. This topic seems relatively simple and yet since I have encountered endless questions I thought this post may add something to overall community.

The question boils down to “What is the big #$%^&*@! deal with non-permitted additions?”, for residential lending purposes. Of course this stems from the fact that many residential lenders are pushing back appraisals that have given value consideration to an addition which was non-permitted at the time of construction. This is not a new idea to me, but apparently it is very new to some of my colleagues.

Generally what I am finding is that if the origination appraisal report failed to properly recognize the additions, discuss the functional utility (or inutility as the case may be), discuss the insurability; discuss the construction methods; and address the marketability, then the lender will push back and ask for the addition not to be included in the appraisal.

While that last thought ruminates for a moment, let’s break it down. There are three basic concerns that a lender has with regard to additions.

  1. Health and Safety;
  2. Insurability; and
  3. Market acceptance.

When a property is first built most of the time the home was built in accordance with local regulations, building permits were obtained proper inspections were made to ensure the home has met the national building codes that are designed to ensure the longevity of the structure and promote the health and safety of the future occupants; however, when the property has non-permitted additions the lender has no way of knowing if the proper building codes were followed and the wiring, plumbing, and structural components are then in question. If the occupants of this home were injured due to a structural or mechanical flaw of this home (relating to the non-permitted additions) anyone within the chain of title, after the additions, could be considered complicit because legally the lenders are required to conduct due diligence, which includes the collateral, prior to funding a loan.

Throughout the course of time this premise has been tested time and time again in the court systems and when the additional non-permitted work was found to have been completed in a “workmanlike manner” the courts have generally found in the favor of the lenders because the absence of a permit does not change the degree of workmanship. Adherence to building codes is generally implied by a workmanlike manner.

All property that has a mortgage must be insurable to safeguard the financial interests of the lender and the borrower as well. Although this is not the law, it is industry standard that has been expected by Fannie Mae and other secondary mortgage investors. An non-permitted addition that was not completed in a workmanlike manner may not be insurable. Thus the lender will require that hazard insurance will accept either the original property and the addition, or at least will accept the original property and not add any exemptions due to the presence of an non-permitted addition.

Of course even if the health and safety of the occupants are ensured by proper building methods and the home is insurable, the lender will not be happy unless the home also is readily accepted within this marketplace and could be considered a competing alternative to the surrounding homes. This is because it has become widely known that conformity is an important factor of value and acceptance therefore most lenders would prefer to lend on collateral that conforms to its surrounding neighborhood.

It is this last reason that allows the flexibility in most lender guidelines. The non-permitted addition can be considered as long as 1) the additional has been built in a workmanlike manner, 2) the addition is common for the area, 3) the appraisal report provides market data (i.e. closed sales) to show the market acceptance of similar improvements.

The bottom-line is that when the appraiser has determined that a property has had an addition. The report should address: the quality and functional utility, the conformity and acceptance within the neighborhood (illustrated by market sales when available) and the insurability of the improvements.

As far as insurability is concerned, it is my opinion that the report should contain an extraordinary assumption that the non-permitted addition will not impede the acceptability or insurability of this property.

See you are around the water cooler!

By John Reynolds aka UncleZev, source Appraisers Speak Out

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4 Responses

  1. TD says:

    Great article!! Some good information. It’s not always possible to verify if an addition was permitted, depending on how records are kept in a given county. Several counties I work in track permits by the owner or contractor! (should always be by address, in my opinion).

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  2. Bad advice says:

    Who defines what “workmanlike manner” actually means? I’m an appraiser, not a contractor. And it is not within my expertise as an appraiser to make that judgement.

    It DOES NOT matter at all what the lender wants. All that matters in this case is what is legally permissible. And non-permitted construction is not legal, and appraisers who count is as so are opening themselves up for major liability – that their E&O will NOT cover. And it’s also a great way to lose your license, and income – when the state pulls your license.

    The idea that an appraiser should ignore the legality of the issue is beyond bad advice. You should be ashamed of yourself for even suggesting as much.

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  3. Taken down says:

    Don’t forget that the city of county can come by and either make the property owner tear the addition down and convert the structure to the original permited size or the owner can pay to have it permitted. I have seen this twice in the past year in my market area.

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  4. Matt says:

    Yea, me too.  I work in an area where three counties come together and they all have different attitudes — one county has a zero tolerance attitude.  “FIRST, TEAR IT DOWN AND THEN COME AND APPLY FOR A BP,  BTW YOU CAN APPLY FOR A DEMOLITION PERMIT AT THE NEXT COUNTER.  I THINK ITS $1,500 BUT I COULD BE WRONG – YOU’LL HAVE TO ASK THEM.  WHO DID YOU SAY YOUR APPRAISER WAS?”  The other two counties are constantly changing policy, so ………..

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