Real Estate

Buying home with illegal renovations

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  • Oct 5th, 2020 11:45 am
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Oct 7, 2007
7955 posts
3974 upvotes

Buying home with illegal renovations

A close friend of mine recently purchased a home in Vancouver with renovations that it turns out are without permit and are actually in contravention of City bylaws. My friend didn't know it at the time they made the purchase but have since learned of this.

What recourse, if any, does my friend have If the City discovers this? Can my friend explain to the City that he did not do the renovations but bought the house that way and keep the renovations as they are? It turns out that some of these renovations would never have been allowed because of the history of the structure so he is not sure if the City would actually make him remove them altogether (e.g. extra bathrooms) even though he wasn't the one who did the work. Also, does my friend have the ability to go after the seller upon discovering this?
17 replies
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2009
10224 posts
8321 upvotes
Wouldn’t his real estate lawyer have the best answer?
Newbie
Jan 29, 2011
47 posts
8 upvotes
toronto
You can go through title insurance, fix and get reimbursed.

I had a similar issue but my house had an order to comply for an illegal addition. This did not come up on the title search before the purchase . I got reimbursed through title insurance
Jr. Member
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Jun 3, 2019
173 posts
139 upvotes
GTA
choclover wrote: A close friend of mine recently purchased a home in Vancouver with renovations that it turns out are without permit and are actually in contravention of City bylaws. My friend didn't know it at the time they made the purchase but have since learned of this.

What recourse, if any, does my friend have If the City discovers this? Can my friend explain to the City that he did not do the renovations but bought the house that way and keep the renovations as they are? It turns out that some of these renovations would never have been allowed because of the history of the structure so he is not sure if the City would actually make him remove them altogether (e.g. extra bathrooms) even though he wasn't the one who did the work. Also, does my friend have the ability to go after the seller upon discovering this?
I know most comments are to listen to their lawyer, but sometimes you have lawyers that make mistakes or flatly inept just as you would with any profession. I would be getting on the phone with the city to ask what my options are, speaking to my agent to find out why he didn't fully explain everything to me before I bought, but obviously listen to my lawyer's advice to a much higher degree compared to anyone else, after you do your own due diligence - because no one looks out for your best interest than yourself. If the OP's friend had done this, he probably wouldn't be in this position in the first place. The purchaser may want to check with a different lawyer than the one he used for closing, for obvious reasons.

You could go after those that assisted in the purchase (seller, real estate agents on both sides, lawyer who did the closing) if they were found at fault in their respective roles.
Realtor® & Mortgage Agent
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2009
10224 posts
8321 upvotes
I’m no expert in this field but wouldn’t you get an inspection done to ensure of this before signing the deal?

I don’t know how you can go after the sellers after you close your home...it’s kind of your own fault to a degree that you didn’t do the inspection...
Sr. Member
User avatar
Oct 24, 2016
940 posts
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ON
No need to go after the lawyer or realtor. The expenses incurred to bring it to code are reimbursed by title insurance company. It’s a fairly straight forward process. OP, once you get a code violation notice from your city, reach out to your title insurance company.
Isn't it great to live in the 21st century where deleting history has become more important than making it.
Member
Dec 5, 2009
322 posts
214 upvotes
This is nothing at all. I’m from Vancouver, and very few owners apply for a permit to renovate their house, especially if the renovations are inside and not something like a deck. I can almost guarantee you that all of the older homes that your friend looked at during their search would also contain unauthorized renovations.
Deal Addict
Sep 6, 2017
3371 posts
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Alpine84 wrote: This is nothing at all. I’m from Vancouver, and very few owners apply for a permit to renovate their house, especially if the renovations are inside and not something like a deck. I can almost guarantee you that all of the older homes that your friend looked at during their search would also contain unauthorized renovations.
Unauthorized if someone finds out.
Deal Addict
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Nov 1, 2001
1016 posts
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Toronto
Holystone wrote: No need to go after the lawyer or realtor. The expenses incurred to bring it to code are reimbursed by title insurance company. It’s a fairly straight forward process. OP, once you get a code violation notice from your city, reach out to your title insurance company.
Would op insurance premium go up because of it?
Jr. Member
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Jun 3, 2019
173 posts
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GTA
ranjeet2000 wrote: Would op insurance premium go up because of it?
Title insurance that marco1010 and Holystone mentions is a one time payment that covers you for as long as you own that property.
Realtor® & Mortgage Agent
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Oct 7, 2007
7955 posts
3974 upvotes
Holystone wrote: No need to go after the lawyer or realtor. The expenses incurred to bring it to code are reimbursed by title insurance company. It’s a fairly straight forward process. OP, once you get a code violation notice from your city, reach out to your title insurance company.
I am not familiar with title insurance. Where does one get coverage for this? Is it part of the home insurance, and if so, does it work retroactively as my friend's purchase would have taken place before home insurance would have come into effect on the home.
[OP]
Deal Fanatic
Oct 7, 2007
7955 posts
3974 upvotes
Alpine84 wrote: This is nothing at all. I’m from Vancouver, and very few owners apply for a permit to renovate their house, especially if the renovations are inside and not something like a deck. I can almost guarantee you that all of the older homes that your friend looked at during their search would also contain unauthorized renovations.
Have you heard of any examples where someone had to fix their unauthorized renovations because the City asked them to even if they were not the one who did them?
Sr. Member
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Oct 24, 2016
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ON
choclover wrote: I am not familiar with title insurance. Where does one get coverage for this? Is it part of the home insurance, and if so, does it work retroactively as my friend's purchase would have taken place before home insurance would have come into effect on the home.
Title insurance is purchased at the time of home purchase and there is a one time payment for it. I’m sure the real estate lawyer must have explained this during the transaction. Of course the purchaser can refuse title insurance since it is not mandatory (unless this varies by province) but the cost is low that it makes no sense not to buy it.
Isn't it great to live in the 21st century where deleting history has become more important than making it.
Member
Dec 5, 2009
322 posts
214 upvotes
cristianosham wrote: Unauthorized if someone finds out.
If this is a standard street in east van with older homes, then the majority of homes will have unauthorized/illegal renos. If you have them, your neighbour likely does too unless its a newer home.
Member
Dec 5, 2009
322 posts
214 upvotes
choclover wrote: Have you heard of any examples where someone had to fix their unauthorized renovations because the City asked them to even if they were not the one who did them?
Nope. Never heard of anything like that. Its almost assumed that older homes have an illegal suite, but unless their neighbour is a complete dick, no one gives a rats ass. Most of the nosey neighbour types live in the burbs now.

My only concern of living in a house with illegal renos is how poor the quality of work will be lol.
Deal Addict
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Feb 23, 2005
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how illegal lol...

vancouver or gta....... i am pretty sure over 50% of the home renovation did not apply for permits. i don't think the city would the time to care, unless you piss off the right people..

these things will come to light if the house burn down and the insurance find that it was due to that doe improperly.
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Oct 24, 2016
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It's not like the city decides on a street and then comes down knocking on the doors on that street. They visit you for inspection only if some neighbour complains to the city. And if the modifications are inside the house then the chances of someone complaining to the city are extremely remote.
Isn't it great to live in the 21st century where deleting history has become more important than making it.
Deal Guru
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Mar 23, 2008
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Edmonton
I'm not in the GVA, but I have been known to watch a few episodes of "Love It or List It - Vancouver". And it seems to be pretty common that someone trying to do a renovation legally (i.e. with permits) gets burned because previous home-owners didn't bother with that whole permit thing in the past, so a bunch of stuff needs to be re-worked. Once the permit process gets going, it looks like it can get messy (as in, the inspectors have a lot of discretion in including past sins in the current process).

However, that's all edited for television and entertainment, so I have no idea what the actual story is.

C

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