I live in Wisconsin. My wife and I bought our house in early 2004. The listing (MLS) details included a finished square footage of 2200. This is a one-story home that had a "partially finished" basement. Above grade was 1300, below was 900.
I've been doing lots of updates and fixes, primarily in the basement, since we moved in. The term "finished basement" I believe was mis-used, as it was finished extremely poorly (like no insulation behind the wall material - which was carsiding, poor ventilation, improper wiring and lighting, and a few other issues).
I haven't completely re-finished the basement, but I've been working on it.
Out of curiosity, I contacted my local village office ( I live in a small community of about 8000 people) to see what they had on file as the finished square footage of the home. They said 1372. I was floored. This certainly means that no permits were pulled for the work in the basement - which was obvious to me since everything was done so shoddily. It also means that any of the repairs I've been doing would mean I've been "finishing" an otherwise "unfinished" space. This would ultimately increase the value of my home, but would also increase the taxes I should be paying on it (although I think I pay a lot as it is...about $4K).
Any ideas how I should go about this? Half of me says to just "come clean" and get the building inspector over to see what I've done and tell me what to do. The other half says if the previous sellers were able to fudge the finished square footage, who says I can't? When we sell, the house WILL be in much better condition than when we bought it...and much safer. But, I don't want to be caught holding the ball when the finished area comes into question.