I'm looking at purchasing a condo that the current owner built a loft in. They didn't obtain a permit and said they didn't need to since it was constructed within their condo. Is that accurate- do they need a permit or not?
The loft is also super primitive and obviously not up to code (not attached to the wall, steep stairs, etc.), but they're counting the sq. ft. of it towards the total sq. ft. of the condo- That's not right, is it?
You should call the city and ask them. In most areas anything improvements that are structural would require a permit. Building a loft is structural.
In most cases yes, you’d need a permit.....safety issues if nothing else. “Insides” doesn’t matter.....which is what all electrical, plumbing, etc would be. You should evaluate it excluding that sf.. Even if permitted, the additional sf wouldn’t have the same $/sf value.
Pretty much every renovation of a condo is "inside" so that is a ridiculous comment from them. I don't think a loft would count as extra SF and the lack of a permit will be a problem.
A much bigger problem is shoddy quality.
Your realtor should be advising you and you can call the city.
In general you'd need a permit, and I'd be pretty careful about purchasing any property that has unpermitted work that you wouldn't remove anyway if you bought it.
In my part of town the building department goes as far as looking at R/E listings and looking for unpermitted work, then going after the buyer to remediate. Of course every municipality is different so YMMV.