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Major discrepancy between finished space and what's on record with the village

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Quattro

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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.

Help! :help:

Thanks much
 

glennjanie

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Hello Quattro:
It is almost impossible for the inspector to catch every project that goes on inside a home. I also wonder if they have the time to check the square footage against the history of the house. I would continue to improve in small bites and enjoy living there.
Glenn
 

Quattro

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Thanks for the vote of confidence, Glenn!

I guess I thought the appraisal system automatically became part of the assessment process...but evidently they are mutually exclusive.
 

kwmainer

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hum... in my town, you can pull the building code off of the town website. Can you do the same? My husband would advise you to build it better than code.

I would imagine that the only thing worse than having someone discover you'd finished a basement, would be to have them find things not to code. More fines for that.
 

Quattro

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That's the thing. When we bought the house, the basement was advertised as being "partially finished", meaning about 2/3rds of it was finished, and 1/3rd was storage area. However, that claim was made either by the homeowner or the realty company, because according to the Village, it isn't finished space (based on the square footage they have on record).

I can indeed download the building code from the Village web site. I have done so. However, none of the things I'm doing are out of the ordinary. Basic framing, insulation, drywall, electrical. No plumbing, no heating. Actually, the heating was in place, but I did upgrade the air return.

Anyway...fines for doing work (whether it was correct or not) is double to cost of the necessary permit. Wouldn't break the bank by any means, but it would be very inconvenient if walls had to come down while we're trying to sell the place!

I'm not too worried about it. I was more looking for input on how house listings can be misleading, and what kind of reporting happens between an appraiser and the local officials. Apparently, not much.
 

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