Deck Permits and Missing Permits When Buying Real Estate in Chatham County

Real Estate Broker Eric Andrews explains in this video that permits are often unavailable for specific structures and decks in Pittsboro and Chatham County. Permits are only kept on record for a brief time, and many people never get them to begin with. If you’re worried about a deck’s structural integrity, you can always have it inspected.

Speaker 1:           When you’re selling a house in Chatham County, do you need a permit for things like a deck? What if there’s no deck permit?

Speaker 2:           Well, if there’s not a deck permit, you are going to have a carry agent cry on the phone because they want their permits. The fact of the matter is, they’re living in a world that is a lot more different. Wake County has maintained permit records better and longer than Chatham County has.

Speaker 1:           I lived in Carey and you can’t even like trim your tree without-

Speaker 2:           No. Without a permit.

Speaker 1:           Asking for permission.

Speaker 2:           Right. Right. Truthfully, we have more of a Libertarian philosophy in Chatham county. There are some very, very good contractors and some people that can… I promise you, there are some of the best decks you’ve ever seen built anywhere in Chatham county and nobody ever got a permit and they’re completely safe. I’m going to sound like the most horrible worst guy to the Carey agent because I’m saying you don’t need a permit for the deck. They’re like, how dare you? This is how real estate agents get sued, and you’re risking people’s lives and everything. Get it inspected. Make sure it’s okay, but don’t go nuts just because the deck. The deck is there. If you can see that the deck is built well, if you can see that it’s been following all the rules, if you get it inspected and checked out, who the hell cares whether or not you have a permit from Chatham County.

Speaker 1:           Are you supposed to have a permit in Chatham County?

Speaker 2:           Well, yes and no. I mean, so there are some things. So I mean Chatham County has some liberal exclusions as far as agricultural buildings. So if you have a barn or a garage or a carport or something, but then that blurs. One is the garage of residential garage versus a tractor garage and everything. So there’s some things that do or don’t require permits there. But then also you have Chatham County that doesn’t maintain records for more than five or six years. So you have this fine structure that’s seven or eight years old. Truthfully, maybe the seller got a permit. Maybe he didn’t. But even if he did or she did, there’s no record of it. So now you’re going crazy because you can’t, you cannot disprove something. You cannot prove that a permit was obtained.

Now, there are some tricky ways like you can see that the permit was actually applied for whether or not they paid for a permit. There are other ways, whatever. But I, again, I wish common sense would prevail. We don’t want 12 kids partying on a deck and crashing to their demise. I’m not asking anybody to take any risks and everything. There’s certainly some things that permits are really good and should be required or whatever. But I promise you, there are 300 to 500 people in Chatham County that can replace a hot water heater for you and it’ll be perfect. It’s not the be all, end all. If a house burns down, I’m going to sound like the worst guy in the world, but I’m telling you many people are replacing hot water heaters and they’re not getting permits and it is not the end of the world.

Speaker 1:           I just replaced mine. Was I supposed to have a permit?

Speaker 2:           You were supposed to have a permit.

Speaker 1:           I didn’t. [crosstalk]. I just walked into Lowes and put one [crosstalk].

Speaker 2:           Well, if your hot water heater used electrical or gas, then you should have gotten a permit.

Speaker 1:           Okay.

Speaker 2:           But if it used some other method beyond those two. I mean, one of the things that you’re going to have to, that Chatham County needs to adjust to and people need to adjust to in Chatham County is we are a mix of two worlds right now. We have Chapel hill and Carey and Apex that are in Chatham County right now. Those are by the book, do everything right, da, da, da, da. But in the Western part of the county, not everybody gets a permit for everything and they still have been able to survive for 50 years and nothing’s going horribly wrong. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do your inspections, but let’s not get hung up on… Here’s the other thing, too, if you have a situation where you know there’s not a permit and then you buy it, well, you are buying that liability.

Then it’s something that if you want to sell your house, you should disclose that you haven’t obtained a permit. But I just like, if people go back in the history and they look at my listings, I either say the seller did this and didn’t get a permit so I’m disclosing, or I’m saying the seller doesn’t know whether or not they got a permit, but there’s no records of it. So I’m disclosing, there’s no trick-oration here. I just want people to have common sense. If it is built in a workmanlike manner and it passes all your inspections, then you guys should not be worried. Just because the county can’t find that piece of paper, shouldn’t blow up a whole deal.