Building Homes or Extensions/county assessor

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Question
hi again len!  you were so thorough and awesome in your answers to my questions for my move that i thought i would ask you one more question on a different subject.  i had my realtor come to talk about what needs to be done to sell my current home and what improvements, etc. will get my money back out in the sale and she brought a printout of the assessor's general info and they have my home listed as 2 bedroom with unfinished basement.  i've been here 20 years and not done any improvements myself, when i bought it it was a 3 bedroom with a half-finished basement.  i called the assessor's office to see if they can change it in their records and they said they have to come and inspect the property.  i am worried that 1. they will raise my taxes and 2. my realtor thinks my electricity is not up to code because i have those old glass screw in fuses in my box.  i have never had any problems with my electricity and i don't even want to know how much it would cost to update it.  my question is: if the assessor comes to inspect, can they raise my taxes based on another bedroom and finished basement and also if they see the fuse box, can they make me update it/ fine me/ whatever they do in the case of outdated electricity?
thank you thank you thank you in advance!
hope your week is good.
take  care.

Answer
Hi Sonya,

Again, start with a proviso:  every city, county, state has its own rules, regulations and laws relative to real estate, thus anything I comment on may or may not apply in this specific case.

First point--what you, the home owner, say you have in respect to the number and type of rooms and what the county says you have can, and often is, different.  This is because you think of your rooms in terms of how you use them, the assessor defines the room according to regulations, rules, laws and/or, in some cases, his whim.
The architect, builder, and homeowner might call a room a sewing room, an office, a play room, a bedroom or some other descriptive term based on how the room is intended to be, or actually is, being used.

In many jurisdictions any room that has a closet in it is defined as a bedroom (a common exception to this general rule is when a "guest" closet near the entry of the house might be located in a foyer, a hall way or even in the living room or family room) no matter how you are actually using the room.  The reason for this rule, or in some cases, this practice is because some other issue is based on the expected or potential occupancy of the house.  For example, the size of the septic system is based on the number of bedrooms in the house, so the fact that you are using a room with a closet as an office doesn't change the fact that someone else, when you leave the house, might use the room as a bedroom.  If the septic system was designed without counting that room as a bedroom and when you leave and someone else moves in and uses the room as a bedroom the septic system might now be undersized.

Second point--assessors probably don't know the difference between an electric distribution panel and a refrigerator, however, forcing upgrades to bring outdated, and generally accepted as unsafe, equipment is a growing practice embodied in new laws which are invoked at the time of a sale when the code officials are authorized to inspect and demand upgrades which must be completed before the sale can be consummated.  This  regulatory development is spreading so pervasively that the homeowner insurance industry has responded to this risk be commonly now offering an optional endorsement/rider to cover the potential costs of such unexpected legally required upgrades.

Third point--I don't know how common it is but I've seen it often enough to guess it isn't rare that laws exist that the real estate tax rate can only be modified by legislative action, thus preventing a tax increase as a result of a reappraisal.  

So, the bottom line is, get access to the official regulations pertaining to assessment, reappraisals and what consequences can develop as a result of such assessments.  Second, do the same with the code official regulations.  Simply directly ask the appropriate officials to explain these issues and the requirements that might arise as a result of such actions and point you to where you can access officials documents enumerating these rules and regulations.  Additionally, I would think a good real estate agent would be at least generally familiar with such issues and be able to warn and guide you relative to them and point you to where you can research the issues in greater depth.  Between the officials, who are your "servants" and the real estate agent who is your "advocate" you should be able to get directed to where you can personally find the answers to these questions.

Good luck

Len Kroll
Wood House Log Homes LLC
895-315-5450
800-864-6701
len@woodhouseloghomes.com

Building Homes or Extensions

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Len Kroll

Expertise

I can answer questions concerning log home design, manufacture, construction, maintenance/repair, restoration and insect control in log homes. I can also answer questions pertaining to wood properties, characteristics and performance as they relate to log home applications. Additionally, I can answer questions pertaining to residential construction and repair, some engineering and trade issues.

Experience

I have been in the log home and construction industry for 38 years, 10 years in a specialty contracting field and 28 years in the log home field. My company has designed, produced and supplied over 3,000 log homes and built over 500 and restored over 600 during that 28 year period. I was a volunter in AllExperts for several years and somehow fell off the map. I answered hundreds of questions during that term and had a very high rating.

Publications
I authored a monthly column in an in house publication expressing the Vice President and General Manager's "Observations and Insights" which was distributed to approximately 300 employees and management.

Education/Credentials
I have a BS Accounting degree from the University of Illinois, 1963, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago, 1968. I have participated in numerous relevant seminars over the years including an intense two week broad business administration seminar at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business, 1978. I have participated in the National Association of Home Builders Graduate Builders continuing education program.

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society Student, Illinois State Academic Scholarship, Dean's List

Past/Present Clients
Aaron Tipon, Randy Travis, Billy Dean, Maryland State's Attorney General, US Army Retirement Complex, Boys Scouts of America.

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