“It’s not permitted, but it’s to code.”
RRRRIGHT. Sure it is.
There is a small problem. One of the first things written in the building codes is “. . . shall first make application to the building official and obtain the required PERMIT [emphasis added].” There are very few exceptions.
So, obviously it’s not “to code.” But, let’s extrapolate this idea a little further. If they didn’t know that a permit was required to be “to code,” then what else do they not know is required to be “to code?”
Answer: They have no idea if it’s to code.
“It’s to code” is a phrase that should never ever be uttered by anybody during any real estate transaction.
Similar logic can be applied to the statement, “We didn’t hire a contractor; we did it ourselves, so we know it’s done right.”
So, what about the Home Inspector? Does he know if “it’s to code?” No, he doesn’t. The reason permits are required before the fact is so that the building official can inspect the new construction, remodel, or renovation in process, and see things before they are covered up by wallboard, concrete, roofing, etc. To determine if an existing building is “to code” would require tearing the building down, all the way to the foundation trenches.
So, please, and this is especially for you home sellers and real estate agents, when the inspector asks if the room addition, garage conversion, enclosed patio, e.g., is permitted, and he should ask, keep it simple. Skip the seemingly obligatory “it’s to code.” There are only three possible right answers: Yes, no, or I don’t know.