Selling a House with Unpermitted Work

Learn these things to do if you’re selling a house with unpermitted work in Idaho and still get the best cash deal for your property.

Selling your home can be stressful at the best of times. When your home has unpermitted work, it can be downright chaotic. Lacking permits on renovations and upgrades can lower the value of your home and potentially scare off home buyers.

In short, it is a hassle.

Selling a home without building permits is a problem, but not necessarily a permanent one. There are steps you can take to correct the issue and welcome potential buyers to make an offer. 

If you want to get fair market value on your home, take a look below at our expert guide on selling a home without permits.

man doing unpermitted work on a house

What if a House Seller Didn’t Disclose Unpermitted Work in Idaho? 

In the state of Idaho, home sellers are required by law to disclose any work done without a permit. You do this by filling out a disclosure form that lets buyers know about any issues in the home. 

While Idaho allows the wording on the disclosure to be open-ended, there are specific areas you must hit. This is why working with a real estate agent is important. They will guide you through the disclosure form

The disclosure form is designed to give home buyers an overview of your home’s condition to the best of their knowledge. It will include areas such as:

  • Foundation
  • Plumbing and septic
  • Electrical work
  • Heating systems
  • Hazardous materials
  • Pests
  • Unpermitted work
  • Any additional issues

The last question is meant to encourage honesty. By providing an open-ended question, it lets you expand on any issues that were not directly asked about on the form. Learning these things will enable you to sell an ugly home fast.

It is also important to note that Idaho only requires you to mention problems that you know about. You are not obligated to verify the information you provide. This is called the “Requirement of Seller Knowledge.” 

You also have to provide a potential buyer with this information ten days from the date of their offer. Be that as it may, it is a better idea to have your realtor disclose permit problems upfront. Waiting can cause the new owner to be wary and pull out of the deal.

If you decide to hide the lack of proper permits on your home improvements, you can be sued down the line. You will face steep court fees and permitting costs to fix the problems. 

Plus, you will have to hire and pay for a contractor to redo the unpermitted improvements.

Omitting important facts can also give the buyer a lot of leverage on the selling price. They can walk away, and you will miss the chance to sell your home fast.

Remediating & Documenting a house With unpermitted improvements in Idaho 

Some people purposely hide the fact that there are DIY improvements that don’t have a permit. 

Conversely, you could be the buyer that was not in the know and only found out through the building department or city inspector. Regardless of whether you knew or not, there are ways to remediate the building code faux pas. 

If you have not had a home inspector check for renovations, you should do so before putting your home on the market, however.

First, check to see if any permits were pulled. If you have a finished basement, for example, here should be a record of the permitting process.

Your municipality’s building department will have this info, plus your town’s ordinances and permit requirements.

How to Sell

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for there to be unpermitted improvements. Dealing with retroactive permits is a hassle and can be time-consuming. Yet, to save a possible cash offer, rectifying the situation is crucial.

Your local real estate agent can help, but not having proper building permits is ultimately your responsibility.

Take a look at what you can do as the homeowner to sell a house with unpermitted work: 

  • Acquire a retroactive permit for renovations and DIY projects
  • Get building codes and go through the permitting process to redo the renovation
  • Remove or take down the unpermitted work
  • Disclose unpermitted improvements and sell to home buyers “as is”
  • Have local real estate agents market to contractors

As a general rule, you have two options if you have a house with unpermitted work. First, you can sell at a discounted home value. Your real estate agent can present it “as is” at less than market value.

If you need to sell fast, you can also sell your home to a contractor or real estate investor. These homebuyers will be looking to renovate and will take care of the building permits. 

Keep in mind, if you choose to sell “as is,” you need to have a real estate attorney work with you to ensure you disclose everything properly.

Your second option is either fixing the issue yourself or hiring someone else. You can pay a licensed contractor to pull the proper permits and fix the improvements. This can quickly get expensive, though.

You can also attempt to repair the DIY renovations yourself by tearing them down or fixing them. In the latter case, you will need to check your municipality’s ordinances regarding zoning, electrical work, plumbing, occupancy, and of course, permit requirements.

Bear in mind, receiving a retroactive permit is not always easy. Your city inspectors may not be able to adequately access the improvements. Before investing a lot of money, consult a building inspector first.

Idaho Home Improvement Permit Laws 

A building permit is granted to you to perform construction on your home. It is a legal document that has to be approved by the city inspector’s office. 

The permitting process can vary in length. It allows the municipality’s building department to check the plans for zoning and occupancy issues, building codes, etc.

Building permits are also important for lenders and insurance companies. Home improvement loans often require the proper permits. Furthermore, homeowners insurance can be canceled if there is unpermitted work done.

Every city and state has different building codes that require you to have a specific building permit. A home inspector will also need them for new and previous owners.

Idaho Permit Requirements

In Boise, Idaho, all major construction and renovation projects require a building permit. Here is a more comprehensive list:

  • All mechanical heating installations/changes like furnaces, ductwork, and fireplaces
  • All electrical work, including running wires and changing/installing outlets
  • Plumbing permits include repiping, water heater installation, and tub, shower, and toilet 
  • Additions, foundation repair, refinished basements, garage, and fence installation
  • Roof replacement or major repair
  • Addition or removal of walls, windows, or doors
  • Construction of decks, patios, carports, and sidewalks

If you are unsure whether or not you require a building permit, see the full Boise, Idaho list. Consider looking for cash buyers in Boise to help make the process a little more straightforward and easy. 

Can You Sell a House With Unpermitted Work in Idaho? 

The short answer is no. It is illegal for homeowners to sell their homes with undisclosed and unpermitted work. 

As mentioned, Idaho requires all sellers to provide potential buyers with a disclosure form that will spell out all issues or problems to the new buyer. That being said, a lot of people feign “memory loss” when it comes to building permits.

When there are unpermitted renovations, serious consequences are possible and likely. First, all major construction projects need the approval of city inspectors. This is mostly for safety reasons. 

If your home lacks the proper permits, it is not always the previous owner’s fault. It could have been the contractor who made the unpermitted home improvement. This often happens with unlicensed contractors.

Renovations that do not get the proper building permits are a ticking time bomb. Building codes are designed to keep occupants safe. Building inspectors are there to ensure protocols are followed.

As we discussed earlier, selling your home without disclosing unpermitted work is never a good idea. You can be sued for personal damages, and you will be responsible for the cost of repairing the work. This is on top of legal fees.

On top of that, trying to hide DIY improvements that didn’t get the building inspector’s seal of approval will make you look untrustworthy to your new home buyer. 

Even if the renovation was minor, potential homeowners will wonder what else you are hiding. Consider looking at companies that buy houses in Idaho to help ease the stress of figuring it out by yourself.


It is against the law to sell your house without disclosing the unpermitted work. If you are willing to sell at a discount, however, it can be done. You can sell a damaged house if you are honest.

In this case, you need to advertise your home in an “as in” condition. Be upfront with both your agent and the new buyer. Your local real estate agent will know who is open to buying houses with unpermitted work, as well.

In the event someone falls in love with your property, you also don’t want unforeseen issues to pop up after they have already made an offer.

house with unpermitted work for sale

Tips & Advice for Selling a House With Unpermitted Work in Idaho 

If you decide to sell your home without building permits, there are a few tips that can help you get the best market value for your efforts.

First, consider contacting house flippers, contractors, and real estate companies who routinely purchase unpermitted homes. 

Selling to the general public is also possible. Be completely honest with what needs work. It also helps to have some quotes on hand to finish the job. It gives concrete figures to work with if a buyer tries to take advantage.

You can also have a home inspector look at the project. They may be able to tell you how difficult (or easy) it would be to get the right permits to finish the job.

Another option is to add the repairs into the closing deal so the buyer doesn’t feel like they are losing anything but gaining. If you are wondering “who might buy my house in Nampa,” there are plenty of companies and groups who will work with you to buy your home at a fair price.

Regardless, always make sure you reach out to your municipality for clarification on what it requires to get your home back up to code.


At some point, most homeowners will want to make improvements to their homes. Although gaining the proper permits can be time-consuming and a hassle, it is worth it in the long run. This is especially true if you ever sell your home.

Even if you never plan to sell, not following the correct permitting process can put you and your family in danger. It can also keep you from getting a loan or maintaining homeowners insurance. 

That being said, if you find yourself saddled by someone else’s unpermitted renovations when it’s time to sell, be upfront and honest with your potential buyer.


Kevin is a real estate investor dedicated to helping homeowners sell their properties quickly and without the stress and hassle of a traditional listing.

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