What would you do if neighbor renovated house without permits and intends to sell?

Jake

Well-known member
Oct 30, 2023
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I came across a really interesting question on Reddit, the person who posted to reddit has alleged that their neighbor fully renovated a 1930s house without obtaining a single permit, and he intends to put it on the market soon. The redditor is afraid for whoever ends up buying the property due to the unpermitted work as she doesn't feel it's fair to whoever does buy it. No work was permitted, and this neighbor ended up installing an inground pool, a new bathroom, took down a wall, and made a mud room all by himself.

The redditor is concerned about the safety and the legality of the new renovations. Should he take any action himself? Like reporting his neighbor or warning any potential buyers of the risks? What would you do in this scenario?

You can find the reddit post here - r/Hamilton
 
Location
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
I'd honestly report the guy. He's done a disservice not only to himself, but to whoever buys the property going forward. It's just going to be a headache. Plus, with the amount of work done, especially if it was major work with electrical, plumbing, and structural changes. As well as the safety risks that come with being unpermitted. As well, we don't know if they have complied with building codes, which could come back to cause issues for a future owner of said property.

Plus, you can report the neighbor anonymously if you're worried about possible backlash from said report. I know it's not easy to deal with a conflict with your neighbor. Once the neighbor is reported, they will inspect any work done and make sure it all meets safety and regulatory standards.

But the key thing here is future buyers. You're saving them the trouble of having to deal with a problem house like this. So in this situation I'd outright report the neighbor. Because that unpermitted work can result in costly repairs and legal troubles down the line for whoever gets stuck with this house.
 
But the key thing here is future buyers. You're saving them the trouble of having to deal with a problem house like this. So in this situation I'd outright report the neighbor. Because that unpermitted work can result in costly repairs and legal troubles down the line for whoever gets stuck with this house.

I think most people would agree with you. Reporting the neighbor is definitely the most responsible and civically minded course of action here. On the other hand, I can see other people rolling their eyes and taking more of a "mind your own" attitude toward the OP. After all, we don't have any evidence that the neighbor is actually guilty of shoddy or unsafe workmanship, right? For all we know, the neighbor's renovation work was exquisite and went above and beyond all the code requirements. But they did skip permitting, so there's a clear potential that the work is substandard and unsafe.

Personally, I could see myself looking the other way and not reporting the neighbor if I respected them and had every reason to believe they were doing high quality, expert renovation work. One contractor responding to that thread accused the Hamilton Building Department of operating "at an absolutely pathetic and embarrassing speed" - so there's at least some sentiment that the neighbor's lack of permits was at least somewhat justified.

Not saying I'd ever agree with the neighbor's actions, just that there are circumstances where I wouldn't be inclined to report them.
 
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