Permit or no permit? That is the question. Does FHA require permits for an addition? I have local real estate agents ask me this question quite a bit. The answer in short is “no”, but there is really more to understand about this issue other than just a simple “no”.
Straight from FHA/HUD:
HUD feels that any addition or modification should comply with applicable building codes of the local jurisdiction; however we do not require proof. Pursuant to HUD Handbook 4150.2, the Department has neither the authority nor responsibility for enforcing laws of the municipality; therefore, permits are not required. The property must however be in compliance with local land use regulations (zoning) of the subject site, i.e. a legal use.
The appraiser is not expected to have the expertise or knowledge to determine if an addition or modification is properly designed and constructed, however, the appraiser should; describe the addition/modification, indicate differences, if any, in the actual gross living area compared to public records, and note if the addition/ modification appears to be completed in a workmanlike manner.
The appraiser should value the addition/modification appropriately according to its contributory value in the market. It is not acceptable to exclude the addition or modification from value solely for the lack of permits issued by the local jurisdiction.
Basically, if there is an addition, it must be built in a professional workmanlike manner as well as serve a use. This addition, whether permitted or not, can contribute to market value according to HUD (if it does legitimately contribute to market value). However, keep in mind that the lender doing the FHA loan may have a big problem with a lack of permits. Some lenders require permits and will not fund a loan with an illegal addition. Moreover, if there is an illegal addition, how does the city or county view such an add-on?
Let me know if you have any questions. Call 916.595.3735, email me, or contact me through my website.
NOTE on 04/02/2013: I cannot find the original document where I quoted HUD in this post. I believe it was from an email from HUD. Please read this post and the comment thread for more information. It is important to realize that appraisers have to rely on the HUD Handbook as well as information provided by HUD for issues that are not readily addressed in the Handbook. Call 800-CALL-FHA to get in touch with FHA, who can then put you in touch with your local HUD Home Ownership Center if need be.