Attic remodel permit question

3 Replies

Hi Everyone,

Newbie question...

If I buy a property that has a bonus room addition that was never properly permitted, is it better to just to leave it be or would it be possible to get the space permitted now since I am a new buyer?  I am not worried about safety issues for my future renters since the space has been inspected and construction is good but just thinking if it is even possible to obtain permitting after the fact?  Obviously I don't want to wake a sleeping giant and have someone tell me I have to tear it down and start over.  

Also if I ever go to sell can I still list as five bedroom even if 5th bedroom was not permitted? 



Is your primary reason to get the room added for resale? 
Are you going to just rent it out for now? 

If you ever go to sell it your not able to list it as a 5 bedroom unless you permit the room. 
Permitting it will entail removing the drywall and possibly insulation so the inspector can make sure the all the utilities (electrical, plumbing, hvac) are installed properly (per code). If they are not, you have to bring all of them up to code. 
But, yes it is possible to obtain permitting after the fact. 

If you are just renting it out, I am not 100% sure, but I don't think there are any problems with listing the property for rent as you normally would without issues. Rooms that are done without code are usually not the best work done. Hence why they didn't want to pay to get the permit in the first place and usually go with an unlicensed contractor(s) to build it. 

You can call your building permit office and ask them specifically about it. They may be able to provide you with specifics answers for this property & even pull up permits that may have been pulled at some point for that room. 

EDIT: Most all of the inspectors at the building permit office are aware of the non permitted rooms and are willing to help you do the right thing. It just comes at a cost. 

Hope that helps! 

Even if your attic was built to code when constructed, which seems unlikely, since if it was built to code then a permit would be no problem; then the code may be different today.

For example electric receptacles are different today than they were 5 years ago.  Insulation is different to day, where R-50 was approved, some place are now requiring R-60.  to do that could require tearing out the attic ceiling, and could cost thousands.  Every year the code is updated with new requirements and every year more is required to comply.

To make your attic comply may cost more than you thick. 

Also different inspectors interrupt the code differently.  We had a job where the insulation had to be inspected by the city before drywall was hung.  The contractor put in staples every 6 inches.  The code inspector failed the insulation inspection because the code said 1 staple every 12 inches.  He shut down the job site, made the contract remove the extra staples before any sub-contractor was allowed on the job site.  He cost the project 2 days.

Guaranteed Rate
Guaranteed Rate is a top mortgage lender
Save $1,290 on your next home – no lender fee*
Get special perks like $1,290 in lender fee savings when you buy a second home with Guaranteed Rate.
Apply Now

wow, I've had nightmare with attics.  before you can even make attic living space, there must be a survey showing how deep the foundation is on the structure.  They will dig down around your footer or slab to see if it is the correct thickness or depth to support the 2nd floor.  That's just the start.  Like You're in for a serious uphill battle either way, I'd say.  @David Krulac said, every inspector is different.  I've even seen an inspector pass a footer, then later another inspector come by and cancel the pass and turn it into a fail.  Good luck...   IF this info helps you in any way, pls vote for my post...