How much higher did you taxes go after you finished your basement? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm planning on buying and one house taxe was 12k per year with a high ceiling finished basement in Bergen County, NJ here near where I live.

Can you guy share? (I'm just curious how much higher finished basement taxes are)
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post #2 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by donjuanwater View Post

I'm planning on buying and one house taxe was 12k per year with a high ceiling finished basement in Bergen County, NJ here near where I live.

Can you guy share? (I'm just curious how much higher finished basement taxes are)

Don't tell them that you finished your basement.

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post #3 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by stepyourgameup View Post

Don't tell them that you finished your basement.

That's pretty dangerous advice...as much as tax hikes suck, going the legal route is usually the safer bet.
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post #4 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:50 AM
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In the current housing market I would be surprised if they go up at all. Most of the people I know have successfully contested their property tax increases the past few years. It seems the local governments are trying to raise some revenue by increasing the "value" of homes that have clearly depreciated (sometimes significantly) over the past few years.

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post #5 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:56 AM
 
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Since they cannot enter your house without a warrant, and can never get one for this purpose, you are safe from higher taxes.

If they directly ask you if you finished the basement, or some such type of question, then you must answer it honestly as yes. If they do not ask, you are not required to offer the information.

At least in my state this is all true. Each state has the potential to be different.
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post #6 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scl23enn4m3 View Post

That's pretty dangerous advice...as much as tax hikes suck, going the legal route is usually the safer bet.

"Dangerous" is overstating it a little bit..., but it raises a good point. If one was to pull an electrical permit, and obviously get the inspection. Does that shoot a red flag to the city, so they can re-assess your property tax?

Speaking from experience, I know the electrical inspectors I've dealt with haven't requested any paperwork or details of the work outside of the electrical scope. Just wondering if those individual bodies speak to one another for the purpose of assessing appropriate taxes.
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post #7 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 07:55 AM
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Depends on the local assessing agency. I heard of some cases in which if you haven't increased the existing total square footage of the house, it doesn't really change much if at all. Putting in $500 carpet vs $1500 carpet doesn't really make a difference once you've converted the space to habitable living space.

Again, depending on locality, there's also the "pull the permits, but 'forget' to get the final inspection" plan.

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post #8 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 08:10 AM
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I am going to pull permits in my current basement build, and I suspect, that this will result in higher taxes. I did not pull permits for my last basement build and it made me nervous when it was time to sell the house. The buyers did ask if I pulled permits and I was honest and told them no, but I did use reputable subs and provided receipts and examples of the work that was done.

I have also heard that inspectors and tax collectors in my current town are pretty aggressive.
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post #9 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 08:18 AM
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While the tax man won't knock on your door, the insurance folks can. We switched to a different carrier last year and the new one had an inspector come by to verify square footage, etc. While you aren't really increasing the overall square footage of the house, you are increasing the amount of improved or finished space. Since it would cost the insurance company more to replace, I'm guessing your premiums would certainly go up. Whether the tax man ever compares notes with your insurance company is another story.
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post #10 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post
I did not pull permits for my last basement build and it made me nervous when it was time to sell the house. The buyers did ask if I pulled permits and I was honest and told them no, but I did use reputable subs and provided receipts and examples of the work that was done.
This is my current situation... I even posed the question to my realtor about resale without permits, and she told that over 90% of the homes she sells and/or assists in buying that the permit issue never actually becomes one.

So, I'm not pulling any, however my particular build is quite minor (zero plumbing/structural framing), and being an electrician gives me a solid grasp on how to meet local code in that regard.

Spaceman makes the most protant point though. All you should really care about is insurance coverage. Living space does play into your rates.
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post #11 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 08:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smokinghot View Post
This is my current situation... I even posed the question to my realtor about resale without permits, and she told that over 90% of the homes she sells and/or assists in buying that the permit issue never actually becomes one.

So, I'm not pulling any, however my particular build is quite minor (zero plumbing/structural framing), and being an electrician gives me a solid grasp on how to meet local code in that regard.

Spaceman makes the most protant point though. All you should really care about is insurance coverage. Living space does play into your rates.
I think it depends on the area too. I know in Utah (we lived outside of Salt Lake) nobody I know pulled permits when they finished their basement. It seems different here in Minnesota where I live. Most of my neighbors that I talked to that finished their basement pulled permits and they did get a tax increase on what are already high property taxes here in MN. I am not excited about paying higher taxes, but I want the peace of mind.

And I think I watched too many episodes of Holmes on Holmes

My local city states very clearly that homeowners are 100% not allowed to install PEX pipes (which my house has). So while I will be doing most of the work myself, I will definitely hire this out and protect myself.
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post #12 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 08:48 AM
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Insurance coverage, just tell them it was there...

What about if you re-finish, tear some stuff down and build it back up, technically it was finished when you got it.

I mean if you follow basic code, I think you are pretty safe, no? I mean if a properly wired outlet fails and burns down the house, how can the insurance company deny you?

I would think it is the same for replacing a switch with a dimmer, if it blows up and burns down the house, whose fault is it? It was wired right but the part is what failed.

I have no idea, I am just asking, I am sure there are varying opinions on it all.
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post #13 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smakovits View Post
Insurance coverage, just tell them it was there...

What about if you re-finish, tear some stuff down and build it back up, technically it was finished when you got it.

I mean if you follow basic code, I think you are pretty safe, no? I mean if a properly wired outlet fails and burns down the house, how can the insurance company deny you?

I would think it is the same for replacing a switch with a dimmer, if it blows up and burns down the house, whose fault is it? It was wired right but the part is what failed.

I have no idea, I am just asking, I am sure there are varying opinions on it all.
I don't think insurance companies would deny a claim unless they found negligence. Which is really the point of the permit in the first place (ensuring that work was done properly and to code).

So as long as the work was done properly and to code, I would not think that an insurance company would deny a claim even without permits.

Now if the DIY homeowner or sub they hired did not do the work to code and there was no permit? I am pretty sure the insurance company would deny the claim and the homeowner would be stuck.

My other concern is that I have a walkout basement with lots of windows. It would not be difficult for the city/county to determine that I finished my basement and that I did not pull the proper permits. Again, not worth the headache.....
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post #14 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 10:42 AM
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Assessor's use building SQ footage. Nothing more unless you are in a "high value" area that would also apply things such as "view" surcharge.

Insurance: You will only get reimbursed for what you pay for. If you dont read your contract, you will probably not get covered for that high end audio gear.

If you do have a fire, and they find that the structure wasn't to code (ie., fireblocking), they can and most likely will deny coverage. Even if it was there prior to your purchase of said house. Pays to have a good inspector that will look at the house, and review building plans prior to the inspection (assumeing they exist on record).
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post #15 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JThiessen View Post

If you do have a fire, and they find that the structure wasn't to code (ie., fireblocking), they can and most likely will deny coverage. Even if it was there prior to your purchase of said house. Pays to have a good inspector that will look at the house, and review building plans prior to the inspection (assumeing they exist on record).

Do you have any documented evidence that this is a fact? I've had some conversations with agents to the contrary. If you ever are denied, that is a matter for your lawyer.
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post #16 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 12:31 PM
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I was told that our taxes would go up about $100-200 a year when I asked the question when I pulled our permit. Keep in mind my yearly property taxes are right at $3800. I was told it is more per sq ft when you build on to your house then finishing the basement. Again that is just what I was told for my county. I'll find out in a couple of months though... I did not get a permit for the last two basements I did in my previous homes, but after watching all the Holmes on Homes I decided to go the legal route. Good thing to as the inspectors taught me a lot and helped me make sure I didn't miss anything. Piece of mind for me.
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post #17 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 12:41 PM
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I don't like this talk of my theater burning the house down. Everything is perfect!
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post #18 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 12:58 PM
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I didn't get permits and am not volunteering to pay additional taxes. The builder did all of the framing and the plumbing. They didn't take note of specifics with electrical either, so there's a part of me that thinks I could claim to have only hung sheetrock and attached fixtures. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but doubt I'll ever have to play that card.

I have only three windows in the walkout basement, and have been keeping them closed during my build, unless we're down there. It is becoming a real pain to keep those closed, but it's probably for the best for security anyhow.

Boy, you guys really pay some taxes.... I'm in a 340k house on 3 acres and pay $1200.

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post #19 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony123 View Post

Boy, you guys really pay some taxes.... I'm in a 340k house on 3 acres and pay $1200.


Must be nice -- I'm in a $160k (town assessed value) house on 1.5 acres and my taxes are $5,800!!

Gotta Love New York State!
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post #20 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Do you have any documented evidence that this is a fact? I've had some conversations with agents to the contrary. If you ever are denied, that is a matter for your lawyer.

I just spoke to my father who is a general contractor in Florida. He has first hand knowledge of insurance companies denying claims when home owners had work done without permits and the insurance companies denied the claims. He has seen it mostly with plumbing that was done improperly and there was severe water damage. He also told me about a customer who did an addition that ended up having structural damage that did not get permits/inspections for and the insurance company denied coverage. He basically had to tear it down and start over (he said it was a real mess, improper loads, improper roofing, bad wiring, etc).

But insurance companies in Florida have been aggressive because they have lost so much money in that state in recent years.

Like I said, if you do the work to code and can provide proof I don't think the insurance company would deny coverage. If you do the work improperly and without inspections/permits I would think the insurance company could and would deny. I mean, after all, getting the permits and inspection is the law. It is pretty clear.

I can tell you when I sold my house a few months ago we had to declare that the work in the basement was done without permits. My realtor was very clear about this. Thankfully I hired good subs and was able to show proof that we hired licensed professionals. I know the buyer was reassured by this, but it left a bad taste in my mouth and from now on I am pulling permits.
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post #21 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 01:26 PM
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I was told by my township clerk that a homeowner in Michigan is allowed to make their own home improvements with no permits as long as it's not some addition that requires foundation. I was told this when I applied for a permit to build an attached garage and I asked if I should get an electrical permit while I was at it. So ever since I've never pulled a permit for anything. Needless to say, my taxes will not increase one bit when I finish my basement.

Also, something else I've heard is that unless each room in your basement has proper egress (functioning window or exterior door), it can't be considered a bedroom. So I don't know how they would classify a basement like mine that only has one doorwall on the walkout side. I really don't think it can be considered habitable space.
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post #22 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 02:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tony123 View Post

...you guys really pay some taxes.... I'm in a 340k house on 3 acres and pay $1200.

I'm in South Jersey on a little more than 1/2 acre and pay close to $10K in taxes. They are doing revaluations in our 7 year old development in April/May so I have no idea where my taxes will go with having a finished basement.
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post #23 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 02:04 PM
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Just to add fuel to the fire...

In every (I mean every) home I've done electrical reno work in as a professional with a permit. The inspection consisted of me shaking the hand of the inspector, and asking how busy his schedule was. ...Sorry, once I had to explain the scope of the work that hadn't been started yet.
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post #24 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

Like I said, if you do the work to code and can provide proof I don't think the insurance company would deny coverage. If you do the work improperly and without inspections/permits I would think the insurance company could and would deny. I mean, after all, getting the permits and inspection is the law. It is pretty clear.

So if you live in a location where permits are required, and you don't get them, insurance company can deny claims. But where I am, there are no permits (except for buying a piece of paper that expires in a year and verifying the roofing license) and no code enforcement. So it seems that if somebody really wanted to push the issue they could find fault with an insurance company that doesn't apply this standard evenly to all their customers.

I don't even live in the "country" but I do live in a rural town, so I doubt my case is that unusual.

And my property taxes are through the roof.

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post #25 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by turls View Post

So if you live in a location where permits are required, and you don't get them, insurance company can deny claims. But where I am, there are no permits (except for buying a piece of paper that expires in a year and verifying the roofing license) and no code enforcement. So it seems that if somebody really wanted to push the issue they could find fault with an insurance company that doesn't apply this standard evenly to all their customers.

I don't even live in the "country" but I do live in a rural town, so I doubt my case is that unusual.

And my property taxes are through the roof.

Based on what my father told me, it was not JUST that permits were not pulled. It was that the work was substandard and not to code and resulted in major damage and claims.

We all know that people don't always pull permits and I would venture to say the vast majority of the time there are no issues with not pulling permits. If you know what you are doing and do the work to code, I would not worry too much. But there are lots of people out there (some of them claim to be general contractors and are unlicensed) that do shady work to make a quick buck and cut corners that are very dangerous. Why should an insurance company payout when someone hires somebody under the table to do work that is not to code and was not inspected and the result is major damage/loss?
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post #26 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 03:08 PM
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Don't tell them...it's none of their business. A man or woman's home is their castle... not the governments.

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post #27 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 04:13 PM
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final inspection = phone call to inspector "you finished that work?" Ok good, "you passed."

it really comes down to the permit in my opinion....a well documented, well drawn permit generally speaks to the quality of the finished product. Applying for a permit with foundation plans, framing/wall plan, hvac plan, electrical fixture plan (including smokes), plumbing plan....and they are not going to bother you further. You walk in with a room scribbled on a piece of loose leaf paper and they will likely be giving you special attention during the build.

The process/system is flawed, but to play devils advocate, i would RATHER HAVE the permitting process in highly populated areas (reference Mrs. Oleary's Cow)....but in rural areas or if some basic distance is met (150ft from any other house/structure?) then the permitting process should be waived (as you are only going to hurt yourself in that case).

just my opinion

and to stay on topic....taxes are typically determined by major things such as square footage, fireplaces, bathrooms, bedrooms, total rooms. you can look at your offical tax estimate at your assessors office and readily see how they determine them, then you should be able to estimate what various renovations will do to them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by smokinghot View Post

Just to add fuel to the fire...

In every (I mean every) home I've done electrical reno work in as a professional with a permit. The inspection consisted of me shaking the hand of the inspector, and asking how busy his schedule was. ...Sorry, once I had to explain the scope of the work that hadn't been started yet.

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post #28 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 06:55 PM
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I'm glad I move from NY to SC.

On 4700 heated sq ft, I pay $3,000 in taxes. My basement is 3300 sq ft unfinished with 10 ft ceilings and isn't included in the tax calculation. If I finish the entire basement, I'm looking at about $5,000 which still isn't bad for 8000 sq ft.

I've heard of people trying to sell their houses after finishing basements without a permit. The seller's agent checked into the permits after finding that the sq footage didn't match tax records. They all had to pay for the permits, penalties, etc before they could sell the house.

Even though I do everything well above code requirements, I always pull permits to avoid problems in the future.
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post #29 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 07:00 PM
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Forgot to mentions that some places require licensed contractors for all work, some require it for electrical and plumbing, some require you to take a test for electrial and plumbing if you want to do the work yourself and others allow you to do all the work yourself.

Down here, you can do all the work yourself on your own house with a permit provided you live in it for 2 years after completing the work. You can also do work on your own house without a permit if the total job cost is under $500.
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post #30 of 44 Old 02-22-2011, 07:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Do you have any documented evidence that this is a fact? I've had some conversations with agents to the contrary. If you ever are denied, that is a matter for your lawyer.

None - just from talking with contractors and a couple agents. I took thier word on it - and would assume that if I had a fire, and things I did resulted in damage worse than what could have occured, I'd be responsible. Makes sense to me.
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