How can I add a closet to a room without a permit?

25 Replies

Hi BP,

Last week my contractor informed me that he has requested to enlarge one of the rooms in the house, but explained to me that if I add a closet I will end up expending more money than intended.  Here is the situation: When I originally hired him I inform him that I want to enlarge the room, to make it a 3 beds home. He informed me that He will have to hire someone to inspect the septic and pay if need to improve its capacity. This means that I cannot sell the house a 3 beds home. Basically, I am enlarging the room for no reason. The following were some ideas and recommendations I have received:

1. Place a wardrobe instead of a closet.

2. Add a pole and a couple of shelves

Any other ideas?

Also, I cannot list property as a 3 beds home, but i guess I can say that it has an extra space that can be used as a spare room. Please let me know your thoughts...

Are you wanting to go from a 2 bedroom to a 3 bedroom? If so, and they pull a permit for the work then the septic system will more than likely need to be upgraded(or not) depending on the requirements for your city/state. Obviously you are not adding a bath or kitchen so it will more than likely be ok but I know here in my area the health department goes by the number of bedrooms. 

If you are just adding a closet then I don't understand what the problem is. Is it because now it's a conforming bedroom with the new closet? According to the building code a bedroom needs to have a minimum size, min. ceiling height, ,means of egress, a light, and minimum outlets. It Doesn't mention anything about a closet....but I'm sure there is some other code, law, statue ect. that gives a definition of a bedroom which appraisers hang their hat on. 

i want it to update the house from a 2 to a 3. I told my contractor this information and henquoted me on an addition. 

He came back and told me the same thing about pulling a permit and everything else and how costly was going to be. If I knew, I would not have requested to enlarge the room, but it is too late now.

@Carly M. what I will do is buy a detached closet - and palce it there. I will also check with the code enforcement in my local area to see any engineers listing and check prices. 

I am hoping someone here can tell me about their experience and cost. 

Thank you! I started calling and emailing some septic professional to see how does it goes. I will keep you guys posted as soon as I have an answer. 

@Luz Pagan   Here in MA, many towns mandate that septic systems be sized for a minimum of 3 beds.  

It's worth a call to your health department (or whichever office maintains those records) to see what the current size is.

@Dennis M. ,

The room it was an enclosed porch. So I added some square footage to make it a bedroom. I want to make a three bedroom home, so I have to get a permit if I want a closet. I will have a septic professional coming to the house ans check if the septic is capable of holding a 3 bedroom house. If so, i just need to request the permit. If not I guess I will buy a wardrobe. Unfortunately, if you want to be in the game in my area, you have to play the game.

how much are they quoting you for a "proper" closet? a closet is just some 2x4s enclosed with drywall and a door (optional with some shelving and rods. granted, somebody did try to quote me about $2k on a closet before... Kevin's definition of a bedroom above is correct. The code doesn't mention anything about the closet for a bedroom to be considered a bedroom, but realtors and appraisers have a different idea, usually. 

Luz, a septic professional can tell you about the condition of your septic, but it is the local permittingn authority who determines whether the septic design is approved for 3 bedrooms.  That information might be available online, or by phone, or in a few jurisdictions you may need to go ask them.  You'll need your property Parcel Number.   

Hey @Luz Pagan

I'm a member of my local Board of Health here in MA and we generally have all septic designs on file as @Charlie McPherson stated.  A quick visit to the admin/clerk of the BOH will give you your answer.  From what I've seen it's rare that the original builder would over-design a system for a home unless the original homeowner planed to expand in the future.  In my part of the country an upgrade to a system can get pricy, we're talking about new civil engineering plans, permits, meetings with the town, excavators, and new landscaping, its a process....

So I have to ask, are you sure you have a private septic system? Did you have it inspected prior to purchase?  Is there a chance that you are connected to your towns water/sewer system or have the possibility to connect?  I don't know where you're located  but many towns  here in Massachusetts can have a mixture of all of these..  Where I live, I have private well and septic,  but as you get closer to the center of town some residents have access to only the municipal water supply and others have access to municipal water and sewer.  Im sure you're aware of you situation but I had to raise the question.

Best of luck.

@Mike Koprowski ,

I have called a septic company to come and check the septic for me. For free, whic is awesome. I will be calling the city today to check in the capacity of the septic. 

The house is in a HOA community. I guess that when I call I will have more information and wether or not I will upgrate.

I will keep everyone in the loop, so they can learn from my experience. 

Its pretty easy,first and foremost you need to go to your Dept of health.Your septic info is there. Again if you are not adding a bathroom the need for a n enlarged  septic  should not be the case . I added 2 bedrooms and bathroom inincreased  my septic from 950 gallons to 2500gallons,spent 17 k in all.

How old is the house? Just by age alone the system might be too small. I had a 3 bed with a 500 gallon tank. The tank had a crack and needed replacing. Minimum was 1000 gallon. Even if it was sized for a 3 bed, if that was 50+ years ago, it is possible it no longer conforms and adding a new bedroom it will need to be upsized. Are you pulling permits for enclosing the porch into living space anyway?

I want to update you all on the closet subject. We ended up building a closet and make the 3rd room with about $500. It was a blessing in disguised. We hired a septic person who gave is a page 4 and the county agreed to list the home as a 3 bedroom apartment since we got the permit to extend the study room. They were super nice! So from having a contractor who fool us with the extension when we asked for a 3rd bedroom, We were able to get it done for much less than expected. Most professionals were charging $2000-$5000 to certified a 3rd bedroom and inspect the septic and the disposal area. I hope this help you guys and if you have any questions do not hesitate to reach out.

@Luz Pagan Glad it worked out! I’m sure it will add much more than $500 to the value of the house! It sounds like the septic company was very helpful. I would definitely paste their card to the inside of a kitchen cabinet for the next owner to call when they need service!