THE PROBLEM WITH PERMITS - Coastal Florida Real Estate


Permits, and the fees associated with them, are increasingly becoming a part of our lives.  As municipalities clamor for more and more revenue, permits (and fees) are a great way to fill the coffers.

building permits

Let me recount a couple of stories to illustrate.  First, I should tell you I grew up in a family where men often did repairs around the house themselves…without permits.

Do You Need a Permit?

Recently,  I was in the Building and Zoning Dept. and asked for a list of those items you would need a permit for and was surprised when told the list of things you DON’T NEED a permit for was much shorter!

Garage Door

I needed to replace the personnel door on my garage so I went to the local home improvement big box store.  When I told the salesman I wanted a door he asked if I was going to get a permit.  What?  For a door?


I live in Jupiter Farms and when my neighbor decided to replace his very simple fence, and do the work himself, I walked over to talk about the job.  Turns out he had to drive about 20 miles to the building department, pay $125 for the permit and have the job inspected when complete.  Oh, and because he lives on a corner there were certain requirements that the corner of the fence had to be on a 45 degree angle so first responders could see around it.   It was open, field fencing and did not obstruct anyone’s view, but…

Open Permits and No Permits

Often times people, especially if they have construction experience or access to it by way of a relative, make modifications to a house without a permit.  This can be a big issue when selling.

If construction is done without a permit and is discovered, code enforcement officers may require that all the work be undone and re-constructed according to codes and, of course, get permits.

A home inspector may not be able to tell if modifications were done without a permit. I once saved a young couple from making a purchase with major, un-permitted modifications had been done because I spotted a small feature that gave it away.  When I mentioned it to the listing agent they were mortified to learn that the client, flipping houses, had purchased that way and inherited the issue.

If a buyer closes on a property where work was done without a permit, they inherit the issue and any costs associated with complying.

An open permit is one where the final inspection was never done and companies are in business to close open permits when sellers need to close on their sale.  I have been through this with buyers.

You may hire a contractor who gets a permit, does the work, but does not get the final inspection.  You now have an open permit on your hands.

The best thing to do is have your agent include language specifying that the deal will not close unless and until seller, at seller’s expense, closes all permits.

If you would like to have a conversation about getting your house sold, contact me directly 561.872.4073.

Richard Sites, Realtor