We are seeing an increase in code violation cases being referred to The Permit Lady. While there are always individuals and companies that try the cheap way around by doing construction projects without the benefit of permits, the current increase is by flippers.
Flippers will take a house, do some work without permits and sell the property without disclosing that there has been un-permitted work on the house. We were contacted recently by a new homeowner who had just purchased such a house. The down payment took most of their cash and then a code enforcement officer knocked on the door.
I have gotten to know several code enforcement officers over the years. They are decent people and are too busy to be looking for violations. Violations seem to fall into their laps. Busybody neighbors and evicted former tenants are the usually the ones who alert code enforcement officers to problems. I do know of cases in which an officer is investigating a possible violation at one property and stumble upon a neighbor's un-permitted work.
Correcting a code violation is expensive! The typical process is:
Hire an architect to draw plans of how the building is now, called As-Builts
Get a building permit for the un-permitted work
Hire a general contractor
Schedule an inspection by the city or county
Have the contractor expose the construction in question at the inspector's instruction
Make any corrections
Have a re-inspection
Have the contractor cover/complete the exposed construction
It can very costly to go through this process. To top it off, there is no guarantee the city will approve the permit. My advice: Get a permit or don't do the work!