Cleaning House

Permit expediter Jeevan Tillit gave insight on open permits and code violations.


The county sure takes its permits seriously. Pretty much any kind of work you do to your property requires a permit. Maybe it’s just a matter of installing impact resistant windows, or as much as trying to convert a garage to livable space. Either way, the county wants to know about it, and has final say over whether or not things go ahead. When your home goes up for sale, watch your step. Unexpected open permits and code violations are a common contract-to-closing hiccup.

One of the first things to do when you put your house on the market is to check for open permits or code violations that may exist. You can take this step yourself, but it’s a headache. Imagine the DMV, but worse. Records offices are only open during business hours, so you’ll likely have to take time off work. You could have to wait hours in line, only to be told the permit you’re looking for is in a different building. Or you could get a form so thick with bureaucratese that it’s completely unintelligible. It’s a good idea to find an expert who can get things done for you.

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The best way to avoid dealing with permit issues is to do it right the first time. Only contract with reputable, reliable people when you make repairs or upgrades to your property. It’s not just about their sense of professionalism. General contractors and engineers put their livelihoods on the line every time they take responsibility for a job. You want to work with people on the up-and-up, those you can trust to get both the job and the paperwork right.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing you have to worry about. It’s not fair, but if you didn’t buy the home new, you’re responsible for the work any previous owner did or did not do to the property when you sell it. This is especially an issue in cities like North Miami, North Miami Beach, and Miami Gardens, which all require the new homeowner to get a re-occupancy permit testifying that the house is up to code before the deal closes.

If you do find that your property is in violation of code, it’s not like you can’t sell it. You just have to put in a little extra work to make things right. Either way, you’ll need another permit. You can bring in someone to confirm that the work is up to code, or you can call in a contractor to undo the changes made to the house. Whatever the case, you want to make sure at the outset that your property doesn’t run afoul of the authorities.