If you’re considering adding on to your home or remodeling instead of moving up, be sure to acquire the appropriate building permits before you start construction. While you may be tempted to bypass this layer of bureaucracy, when it comes time to sell your home it will be a lot easier with permits in hand.

Some buyers will ask to see permits that prove the work was done properly. There’s also a risk that buyers could sue you after the sale if somethinggoes wrong with your addition or remodeling project — e.g., a sinking foundation or electrical problem — and you can’t provide permits showing the job met local codes.

If you’ve already made alterations without a proper building permit, you can seek an “as-built permit” from your local building inspector or permits office. This permit forgives your short-sightedness, approving the site as it stands.

Take note, though, the inspector may want to take a look at infrastructure before awarding the as-built permit. This could mean checking for code compliance by excavating the foundation; opening the walls, ceiling and roof; and pulling out insulation. Once you apply for an as-built permit, there’s usually no backing out.