Bought a two level home, should I make one level a rental?

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Just bought a home with a basement. Looking into converting it to another living area and renting it out. I have had two contractors come look at the and they both have asked if I wanted to pull permits or do it without. Are city permits a must? If not, what are downside of not pulling them?

Yes, you should convert your basement to a rental if you are willing to put in the work! Without knowing the number, you could potentially live for free.

Regarding the permits, I always advise my clients to pull permits. If the city/county does inspections and finds code violations, they can fine you for way more than it costs to just pull a permit.  Also, when selling the property, not having work and improvements permitted is a red flag for potential buyer and will scare some people away.