Illegal conversion must be undone

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DEAR BARRY: The home I just bought has a workshop that was converted to a studio apartment, but no one told me that the conversion was not permitted. Now the city wants me to convert it back. I used all my money to buy the property and can't afford the construction costs. No one disclosed this to me: not my home inspector, the appraiser, the seller, or the agent. Do I have any recourse? --Norman DEAR NORMAN: Let's run through the list of suspects: 1. The home inspector, if he was sharp and experienced, should have advised you to consult the building department to verify permits for the conversion. Many home inspectors routinely recommend permit searches to all of their customers, whether or not the property has been altered. But there is no requirement for home inspectors to offer this kind of advice. 2. The same holds true for real estate agents. If they are truly competent and highly professional, they will advise their clients to check the permit history of the property ...