For future homeowners looking to purchase a recently renovated space in New York City — be it a home, townhouse, or condominium — triple checking prior permit statuses, or lack thereof, is essential. Why? After purchasing property, the new owner takes over all legal responsibilities, including safety and code compliance. This means that a house that lacks permits must obtain retroactive permits. In a situation where permits were not issued because the work was performed illegally, the new owner is required to remove that illegal work.
“The problem then is finding a licensed architect, plumber, or electrician to take ownership of someone else’s work,” says architect Chris Alker, who’s also vice president of building operations at property management firm AKAM.
“This can be costly as it may entail invasive inspections and retroactive filings with the city. If anything is discovered that is unsafe or not constructed to code, then work will need to be redone at the owner’s expense,” he says.
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