Permitting work after the fact

9 Replies

Hey Everybody,

I am looking for recommendations for electricians and plumbers who would be willing to inspect/certify work that they did not complete. We completed a remodel in our home adding 3 bedrooms and a shower to a half bath.

I get this is probably a stretch but for the electrical work pretty much all of it can be easily traced through the attic the only thing that is concealed is the wire drop to the outlets and switches that were installed. The plumbing is concealed but I have pretty extensive pictures of the work as it was being done. 

Any recommendations?

Located in Indianapolis within the loop.

The electrical can easily be inspected with a simple voltmeter to test continuities, voltage, etc. Also size of wire can easily be determined and inspected to see if proper amperage:gauge is sufficient... As long as boxes aren't overloaded due cubic inch maximums and if everything is grounded properly, should be easy to inspect. 

Problem is finding a licensed contractor who won't nit pick and/or bad mouth the previous contractor because you didn't use a licensed guy in the first place. There's always something to criticize, but as long as it meets code you are good. 

Plumbing should be easy as well, considering the inspector should be able to see vent stacks and also see proper traps and pipe sizes... 

I'm a builder, not a licensed electrician nor plumber. But it should be easy to check out. just fyi

A licenced plumber or electrician wouldnt risk their licence or reputation by putting their name on someone elses work .   

A home inspector  is too low on food chain , they wouldnt be recognized by the building inspectors 

You would need a engineer to inspect and certify what was done .  


We ended up using a structural engineer to certify the entire project. I'm sure this doesn't typically happen but the guy walked through, said everything looked good and charged us $350 to write a letter to the inspector saying he certifies the concealed work. 

In addition to the bedroom/bathroom work, we also added a covered front porch without a permit that we planned to disclose on the sellers disclosure at the time of sale rather than getting permitted. However when the inspector showed up to complete the rough inspection for the beds/bath remodel (at which point I would present the letter from the engineer) he noticed the porch was new and decided to write us a violation on it.. The first engineer wouldn't answer any calls/emails so we had to find another guy who would certify, he was less easy going and made up do some foundation improvements before he would certify. Long story short(ish), I would caution anyone who is going to make any large non-permitted, structural improvements to a house they plan to sell. It took us 2 months and and nearly $2500 to get everything up to code and permitted.

As a homeowner you are allowed to do a lot, if not all of your home improvement project yourself (in Indianapolis you have to have an electrician pull electrical permits). As a "house hacker" it will be worth your while to just apply for the permits for big remodels rather than having to do it after the fact. Check your local code for things that actually do require a permit. 

I understand that things may be different in other parts of the country, this has just been my experience. The inspector was also an a-hole so that didn't help..

On a good note, we finally listed the house last week and have accepted an offer which will net us about 80k.

I hope this can help someone who is going through something similar, or deciding whether or not to get permits. 


@Adam Boonzaayer That's great you found someone to sign off on everything. However based on what you've said he's taken on a lot of unknown liability. Unless he had prior knowledge of the build, it's very odd especially for such a small fee. I would say as a take away for anyone debating working on without a permit or purchasing a property with un-permitted work, this circumstance is not ordinary.  

@Jared W Smith

I agree that this is atypical, although after speaking with the city inspector he said they get a lot of letters from this guy. I imagine he is just willing to take the risk with the quantity of work he is doing, but at some point it will probably catch up with him.. I should have mentioned that I got a couple other quotes and they were at about 1000-1500. 

@Adam Boonzaayer This is going to be tough. I don't know of a single electrician that will take on the risk and responsibility of certifying the work of someone else. I see that some people have recommended getting a home inspector to do an inspection. The problem with that is home inspectors are not licensed contractors or electricians which is why in their inspection reports they always include the boiler plate clause recommending something be inspected by a qualified contractor, electrician, plumber etc. Good luck on this.

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