I routinely attend courses on the planning and permit process in Sonoma County. It’s a fact that many people really don’t know how to respond when contacted by the county about a possible code violation. So I thought I’d share the following…
1. You do NOT have to allow the county access to your property. If they can see the violation from the road or from Google Maps, then they probably have evidence. If it’s inside your home, you do not have to allow them access.
2. If you receive a threatening letter suggesting you have violations on your property… do not offer or volunteer any information. Make sure you understand what they are asking, ask what evidence they have to support this. You do not have to respond immediately. Find out what your options are before responding.
3. Good planning and permit consultants are available who can help you find a resolution at the lowest possible cost and/or effort. It’s almost always worth the price of a consultation to find out if they can help you.
It is important to know what the permit status is on your property. When the time comes to sell it, a buyer will find out if there are any ‘red-tag’ violations; you will have to disclose everything you know and in some cases, permit violations make the property ‘un-lendable’ which dramatically impacts the price. So if you have code violations, now is the time to resolve them, not when you’re trying to sell your property.
Any of course my last piece of free advice… never do any improvements without the necessary permits. When the time comes to sell your property, the buyer will rarely value the improvements at anything close to what they would be worth if they were permitted and often banks will not lend on the property if there are non-permitted units, etc.
For more information on things to do BEFORE you decide to sell your home, please feel free to contact me!