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posted: 8/8/2014 12:01 AM

Do non-permitted additions add value to a home?

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Q. Our home has a bedroom addition that was built without a permit. Now that we are selling, we want to know if the non-permitted addition adds value to the home, or will it not be considered when the property is appraised. How should we consider this when pricing our home for sale?

A. Non-permitted additions to a home pose a challenge to appraisers because, on one hand, they cannot include the square footage of an illegal addition in their measurement of the building while, on the other hand, they realize the addition has real value as a usable feature of the home.

For example, a three-bedroom home in which one bedroom was added without a permit has more usefulness, and therefore more actual value to a family, than a two-bedroom home. In terms of function and marketability, the value of the non-permitted addition is real and cannot be dismissed or ignored.

The problem for appraisers is that including the non-permitted addition in the measured living area exposes them to legal liability and potential lawsuits. Therefore, some appraisers refuse to assign any value to an addition that is not permitted, even though it is a violation of Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) to exclude a feature of significant value.

If it can be demonstrated that a non-permitted addition contributes significant value to a home, an acceptable appraisal method employed by some appraisers is to treat the non-permitted addition as an accessory structure, not unlike an enclosed patio, bonus room, workshop, etc., and assign value separately. How this will work out when your home is appraised remains to be seen. In any event, be sure to disclose the non-permitted status of your addition to all prospective buyers.

Q. We rent an apartment and are having a problem with the dryer vent in the laundry room. When we first moved in, water from the dryer vent leaked onto the floor. The manager said the duct inside the wall was the problem, so we disconnected the duct and let the dryer exhaust vent into the room. Now we have lint everywhere, and the room gets steamed up whenever we dry our clothes. Shouldn't our landlord fix this? Thus far, he has ignored our complaints.

A. Moisture condensation can occur inside a dryer vent, especially when the duct runs vertically inside a wall or attic. Insulating the duct may solve this problem, but that will probably involve opening the wall for access. A better solution is to run the duct horizontally through an outside wall of the building, but that is not always possible, depending on the location of the laundry room within the house.

Allowing the dryer to vent inside the dwelling raises other issues that involve health and safety. Besides the lint that accumulates on surfaces, the elevated moisture can cause mold, which can be a health hazard. You should insist that the landlord correct this problem. If he is unresponsive you can complain to the local health department or building official.

• To write to Barry Stone, visit him on the web at, or write AMG, 1776 Jami Lee Court, Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, CA 94301.

© 2014, Action Coast Publishing

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