DEAR BARRY: The home I’m planning to buy has an unpermitted garage conversion and an unpermitted addition. Can the city or county require me to bring those portions of the building up to code? –Sandra

DEAR SANDRA: Municipal building departments have absolute authority to enforce code compliance. They don’t always exercise that authority, but they definitely have the power to do so at any time. This means that they may never bother you about the unpermitted work, or they might suddenly decide to order removal of the addition and restoration of the garage. This could occur if a neighbor complained about the lack of permits, if you took out a permit for other improvements to the property, or if the authorities decided to do a clean sweep of the community to eliminate existing violations.

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