Is it possible to assume a seller's renovation permit?


Active member
Apr 6, 2024
I stumbled upon a Reddit post that I found very interesting and thought I'd share here. It's about someone who wants to buy a house that needs fixing up. The seller started doing renovations like fixing plumbing and electricity but didn't finish. The buyer wants to know if he can complete the renovations under a permit that was obtained by the seller and that's in the seller's name.

What do you all think? Can a new homeowner perform work under permits obtained by a previous owner?
Saint Louis, Missouri, United States
First step would be to reach-out to your local building department or public works about what you need to do in order to assume the existing permits. This way you will know whether the permits can be transferred directory or if you may need to apply for new permits. Of course, before taking on these permits, you want to ensure that any work that was completed before complies with local codes and standards. You may need to schedule inspections to make sure the work already done is up to code and done right. Once all is in order, you can proceed with said renovations.

You may be required to have a licensed contractor pull these permits if any specialized work is needed, such as; plumbing and or electrical. There may be some permits homeowners can pull themselves, but that could vary by the jurisdiction and likely won't include specialized trades.
I would assume so if you've purchased the property. But to be on the safe side, it can't hurt to reach out to a local permitting office on what the next best step would be for assuming others permits. As long as the original permit was in good order and the person didn't cut corners and the work was up to standards, it should be relatively easy to assume the permits.
Most likely no they cannot. Sometimes they can transfer a permit; but most times the transfer of the permit requires a new permit application and fee because if the terms of the permit are not adhered to; they usually cannot go after the former owner/former permittee and they want the permanent property owner on the hook for a promise to comply.

Usually, permit approvals are transferrable - in other words - IF the former owner had all the electric behind the drywall updated, permitted, inspected and approved, that approval should stand for the property. But if the permit, attained by the former owner for work that requires inspection approval, it must be re-applied for (or transferred) as this triggers the inspection by the muni when completed (and usually only the permit holder can request an inspection).