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Regular Visitor
nicolem
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-20-2011
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Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

[ Edited ]

The house I am interested in buying has an unpermitted 3/4 bathroom.  All of the square footage has been accounted for, it looks a closet was converted.  It's been there for at least 15 years but most likely longer (current owners did not convert it).  My inspector and real estate agent both said that most likely the bathroom, if it were noticed, would be grandfathered in.  However, I just spoke with LA building and safety and they told me that unpermitted work is never grandfathered in and if it were noted at some point we would have to start the permit process and bring the bathroom up to current code.  So, 2 completely different takes.  Could someone clarify what exactly the circumstances need to be for something to be grandfather in?

 

Thank you!

Contributor
stillrenter
Posts: 20
Registered: ‎12-03-2008

Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

Grandfather clause is when structure or use was established with a valid permit, usually quite a long time ago, but it's not permitted per today's code.  For instance, if a property has two houses with permits, then you have structures that are grandfathered in because today's code only allow one house, due to zone change.  Two houses can be used and maintained as two dwellings.  Unpermitted work/structure do not have grandfather clause.  Hope this helps.

Regular Visitor
nicolem
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-20-2011
0

Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

Yes.  Thank you so much for clarifying.

 

 

Super Contributor
inspector_guy
Posts: 316
Registered: ‎01-02-2010
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Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

You were smart to call the L.A. building department. Stillrenter is correct. Unpermitted work is never "grandfathered." I am disappointed that a home inspector would offer such an opinion.

Gold Regular Contributor
Andiamo53
Posts: 2,084
Registered: ‎07-12-2010
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Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

Nicoleme--while I agree with eveything that's been posted, the reality is that an old work addition could very likely be ignored by an inspector unless it is obviously substandard. That's what happened to me 5 months ago with my house. The background is this: I planned on doing major renovations to kitchen bathrooms, plumbing, electric,  HVAC and a whole bunch of minor things without permits. Alas, due to a stupid mistake on my part, I got busted by the LADBS who cited me for unpermitted construction. So I went and got a bunch (although not all) the permits I needed and then called for an inspection. Now, I was already on their radar so I was really sweating all the unpermitted things that the former owners had done (or failed to do): Illegaly converted garage, stairs without railings, unbolted water heater and the list goes on. But I was mostly really worried about the garage since re-converting it would have been expensive. To make a lng story short, I needn't have worried about the old work. In fact the inspector barely even looked at the new work. Evidently all he was concerned about is that I paid the permit fees!

 

Now I'm not guaranteeing that old unpemitted work will go unnoticed, But what I am saying is that these days it seems like the city is more interested in getting their pound of flesh than in making sure everything is up to code. If I were in your shoes (and I was), I would not let the permit situation sway me against buying a house if  everyhting else mitigates in favor of buying it. 

Regular Visitor
nicolem
Posts: 6
Registered: ‎07-20-2011
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Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

Andiamo53-it's funny how parallel our situations seem to be.  I appreciate your feedback.  The work is definitely done well (as far as we can superficially see of course).  It seems very solid and flows impeccably with the rest of the feel of the house which makes me think it was done quite awhile ago.  However, I'm not going to assume it will be overlooked especially with the city in the monetary state it's in.  I think it depends on who goes in there and with the amount of work we will be doing, there will be several opportunities for someone to call this out.  I guess we'll just close the door and cross our fingers for the time being if the sale goes through?  Hahaha

 

Thanks!

Silver Regular Contributor
JG1
Posts: 678
Registered: ‎01-24-2010
0

Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?


Andiamo53 wrote:

Nicoleme--while I agree with eveything that's been posted, the reality is that an old work addition could very likely be ignored by an inspector unless it is obviously substandard. That's what happened to me 5 months ago with my house. The background is this: I planned on doing major renovations to kitchen bathrooms, plumbing, electric,  HVAC and a whole bunch of minor things without permits. Alas, due to a stupid mistake on my part, I got busted by the LADBS who cited me for unpermitted construction. So I went and got a bunch (although not all) the permits I needed and then called for an inspection. Now, I was already on their radar so I was really sweating all the unpermitted things that the former owners had done (or failed to do): Illegaly converted garage, stairs without railings, unbolted water heater and the list goes on. But I was mostly really worried about the garage since re-converting it would have been expensive. To make a lng story short, I needn't have worried about the old work. In fact the inspector barely even looked at the new work. Evidently all he was concerned about is that I paid the permit fees!

 

Now I'm not guaranteeing that old unpemitted work will go unnoticed, But what I am saying is that these days it seems like the city is more interested in getting their pound of flesh than in making sure everything is up to code. If I were in your shoes (and I was), I would not let the permit situation sway me against buying a house if  everyhting else mitigates in favor of buying it. 


Just curious - what was your mistake that got you noticed?

Super Contributor
inspector_guy
Posts: 316
Registered: ‎01-02-2010

Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?

Municipal building inspectors tell me that code enforcement/complaints are mostly generated by neighbors. Remember Gladys Kravitz from Bewitched? There's one in every neighborhood watching you from across the street while Abner is telling her to close the blinds. Also, the large dumpster is a give-away.

Gold Regular Contributor
Andiamo53
Posts: 2,084
Registered: ‎07-12-2010
0

Re: Could someone clarify the "grandfather clause" for me?


JG1 wrote:
Just curious - what was your mistake that got you noticed?

My contractor convinced me that I needed to upgrade my electrical sevice to 200 amps. You have to get a permit for that (DWP won't hook you up otherwise) but to get the permit, DWP has to come out and spot your meter. Meanwhile, my electician told me that it was more important to add additional circuits than to upgrade so we told DWP to call off the meter spotting. Unfortunately, the DWP meter spotter did not get the message so he came out anyway. While he was at my house, he started nosing around and asked the workers a bunch of questions (my contractor was not on the premises). The next day LADBS showed up. We know it was the DWP guy who ratted us out and not the neighbors  because for months before I bought the house, flippers were doing as much or more extensive work than I did and no one ever complained.