Before You Tear Down a House!

Before You Tear Down a House!

• Obtain a Permit.
You will most likely need a permit to tear down the house, so check with city and county officials. Sometimes home owners do work without a permit, which is never advised, thinking nobody will notice. But a huge bulldozer in the yard, clawing away gigantic chunks of your house and slamming the debris into rubble, is going to draw attention. So, get a permit, if it is required.
• Check with the Fire Department and Utility Companies.
You may not realize that gas, water and electricity can't simply be turned off and ripped out. Utilities need to be properly disconnected and abandoned or terminated at the source. Your local fire department and utility companies might want to inspect and sign-off on this work first.
• Inspect for Hazardous Materials.
Many older homes were constructed with materials that today are considered hazardous. Asbestos, for example, was commonly used in flooring, ceilings, wrapped around duct work and contained in siding. Asbestos abatement can cost an additional $2 to $3 per square foot to remove, according to a local contractor. If the home has an old diesel tank, expect to pay a surcharge.
• Call Your Mortgage Lender.
Unless your property is free and clear from any liens or encumbrances, your mortgage is secured to the structure as well as the land. Your lender has an interest in the building itself, so you cannot unilaterally destroy the lender's security without permission.
If the lender's security is damaged, realize your loan may contain an acceleration clause, which allows the lender to immediately demand payment in full. An alternative is to arrange for construction financing, which will carry a higher interest.
• Submit Building Plans for Approval
Even if city building codes allow construction of certain structures, your community may prevent you from building the home you desire. If you don't want to find yourself sitting in the dirt on a vacant lot, drying tears with your architectural drawings, submit your plans to all the appropriate authorities beforehand.

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