How To Check House Permits?

Updated on March 9, 2023

Going through paperwork and investigation is a paramount rule that everyone should follow while buying any sort of property. Although many experienced buyers can overlook some important details that can cost them a lot in the near future. One of such cardinal things that need to be resolved before buying or selling any kind of building is a permit. You can be in trouble if checking the permit before buying a house just simply slipped from your mind. As now you not only have to give your money, your time, and effort too. So, it’s better to take a few extra steps before, than complain later.

The closing procedure can be easy or difficult depending upon the condition and location of your house. An open permit or unpermitted work can be alarming for the new buyer especially if you have already bought the house before. Now either you have to close the open permit or you will have to get a retroactive house permit. Not willing to get the retroactive permit for the unpermitted work? Then you will simply have to demolish the work done priorly. Want to know how you can keep yourself away from such a devastating situation and how to check house permits in time, keep on reading.

What Is A House Permit?

You can’t just get up and start building a house right away. There are a few things that you have to do before even building a single wall on your property. There are rules and codes that the builder and property owner have to follow. A permit is a document that is issued to the applicant when asked for. The legal authorities of the government of the area in which the property is issued this allowance paper.

Once you have it you can get your project started, whether it is the whole renovation, just a few touch-ups, or a little construction. No matter what kind of property you want to buy, the buyer has a pre-planned investment plan, if anything is gone otherwise, then you will have to spend more to make things according to your choices. You will have to close this open permit after the authority has inspected the completed work for which you had applied for a permit for your house.

Why It Is Important To Check The Permit History Of A House?

You can end up paying for someone else’s deeds just because of a little mistake. You have to watch out for scammers out there as you can jump into buying a property that has some prior penalties associated with it. Now if you are the new owner then you have to take care of these penalties before starting your own project on it. Why is that so? If you are new to property-related issues, then you must know that a permit is a must in order to do construction on your own piece of land in many areas and cities around the globe.

A permit is first opened, then the desired project is started, finished, examined by the government, and later closed. You never know what kind of renovation or additional construction has been done on the property that you are going to buy. A permit history can tell you not only these details but can also help you verify whether there is an open permit that needs to be closed. If you don’t look for the permit history then later you will be responsible to finish the unfinished job which needs investment and time which you might not have.

Legal Issues That You Have To Encounter By Skipping Investigation Of The House Permit History?

Fretting over paperwork is just the first issue that you will encounter if unfortunately, you have bought a house without checking the permit. Penalties, extra construction work, additional investment, more energy requirements, demolishing, project delays, profit loss, and insurance issues are what you have opted for by skipping the investigation of the house permit history. If the permit is open, then there can be a condition that is not so bad while the other that be a nightmare for you. The less objectionable one is that you just have to apply for closing the permit and wait for the investigation team.

This is only when all of the works for which the permit was opened before, by the previous owners are complete. But things can get worse if the mentioned construction or renovation is left hanging by the old owner as once you have become the owner, the property is under your name and responsibility. You are the one who has no other choice by the law to either finish what is left incomplete or just demolish even the little work which was done. The choice is yours.

This will lead you to problems in your investment and time plan for the project. You will have to pay the fine, complete the work, and pay for the unfinished job. Above all, you are not able to resell the property as the one who will be going to buy the house might not be as careless, unprofessional, or unfortunate. If the new potential buyer finds out the history then there is no way they will buy the house.

How To Check House Permits?


If you are about to buy your dream house for which you have put together your hard-earned money, then it will be really torturous to give it away just because of a little carelessness. Now that you know what a house permit is, why it is so important to get the permit history, and what issues you will have to face legally as well as otherwise, it is time to know the procedures that will aid you in checking the history of the permit as well as the current status. So, you can save yourself from buying a house with open or unpermitted work. Here are some of the methods that you can give a try.

Well, not all places or cities have similar procedures. All have their own specific regulations related to the issuing, closing, and penalties of a house permit. Before looking for a house permit for the housing property that you are about to buy, you have to first take a little guidance from someone who is an expert in this regard. You can get ideas about where and how you can get access to the history of the house permit of the property in your locality.

The house permit checking procedure can be different from place to place, not only on the basis of the nature of the procedure and also on the basis of the time of the construction of the house. Some cities have this record in the public records in the city hall, some have the data stored online, some have separate building offices, while others have the record in the county organization. Online portals are easier means of accessing the house permit record but you are unlucky if the city in which the house is placed doesn’t support this method.

It can either be because the house is old enough to not be entered into the online data or it can also be the reason that your city doesn’t even have such a portal. If there is no online portal then the options left are to make a call to the concerned permission granting authorities, send an email, or just step out and give an in-person application in the concerned office of the area where the house is located. After checking you will get the details about each and every house permit that was ever granted to the house.


How do I check the permits for a house?

If you want to check the permits for your house, then you will have to use the location of your house as a means of getting access to prior data history with the help of various means. You can apply for an application online or in the designated office. You can also ask for it via a phone call or email. But before doing so, you will have to be sure where to go and whom to ask, and how.


House permits are not very arduous or troublesome if taken care of in time. If you are a buyer then you have to watch out for being scammed by sellers. If the permit history is not asked about or investigated before, then you can end up tearing apart your newly bought house to get rid of incomplete or unpermitted work. On the other hand, if you have checked it on time, then you will have surety that there is no additional investment or effort needed. I hope that you have learned how to check house permits, so you can sell, renovate, and rent the house right away.

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