Purchasing a home on Galveston Island?
Things to Consider
- Does the City of Galveston offer Real Estate Home Inspections? No, those inspections are performed by an approved Texas Real Estate Inspector. The City of Galveston conducts inspections on permitted construction projects only. You can find more information on Real Estate Inspectors at this website: http://www.tpreia.com/
- How can I obtain information on the property I am looking at purchasing? You can submit a Public Records Request to the City of Galveston by visiting Public Records. You may also visit Galveston Central Appraisal District.
- I am purchasing an elevated house that has living space below the FEMA designated base flood elevation, how do I know if this is allowed? The pre-firm date for the City of Galveston is May 7, 1971. Any home built after that date is not allowed to have any restrooms or living area below the base flood elevation. If the home you intend to purchase has this issue, please be aware that once you own the home you will be made responsible for bringing the home into compliance with the FEMA regulations, including removing all of the non compliant issues. Please visit our FEMA page for other important information.
- I have found that my home may have some issues, can the City of Galveston recommend a contractor or an engineer? The City of Galveston cannot make recommendations on who to use on your project however you can view a list of actively registered contractors with the City of Galveston and engineers.
- What am I responsible for on a property that I have purchased? You are responsible for everything on the property that has been done to current day once you own the property. We highly encourage you to investigate the home and make sure there are no outstanding issues and that all work performed on the home was properly permitted, if not you will be responsible for it.
- Where can I find information on permits for the City of Galveston? Please visit our Applications, Fees, and FAQs page.
- Make sure the company you use is insured. It is advisable that they are insured in Texas.
- Get a signed contract for the work to be done and the price.
- Get a copy of their insurance and any licenses they hold.
- We highly recommend that you DO NOT give your contractor money up front. This is one of the biggest problems when in this situation. Your contract should have a draw schedule for how much you are to pay at certain points of completion (you may consider using a passed inspection tag as your completion points).
- Permits are required on all work with the exceptions of paint, cabinets and floor coverings. Any structural work will require engineering.
- Permits must be posted and clearly visible from the street. Please be aware that both individuals doing the work as well as the properties having unpermitted work are subject to tickets and fines.
You may consider having the company doing the work pull permits for the work. This makes the company more liable to call for inspections. Additionally, the City of Galveston requires that all contractors register with insurance and bonding. This gives you a means of recourse for anyone that doesn't hold up their end of the deal.
- Do I need a permit? If your project has a valuation of $500 or more you will typically need a permit. Paint work, new finished flooring materials, cabinets and interior trim work are examples of work that do not require a permit.
- What does $500 valuation mean? Valuation is the overall value of all labor and materials necessary to complete a project. There is no discounted rate for materials that are previously owned or donated nor on labor that is donated or done on your own project. What would the cost be if you called a registered contractor to do the project?
- How long does it take to get a permit? There is not a set amount of time it takes to get your permit back to you as there are multiple factors that go into the amount of time it can take to review. Please ensure that you have included all necessary information with the application to prevent delays. The City of Galveston makes every attempt to get your permit to you as quickly as possible.
- What happens if I do not get a permit? The property owner may be subject to legal action for failure to obtain a building permit. If you carry out a construction project that requires a building permit without having one, the City of Galveston Building Department representatives may issue a "Stop Work" or a "Cease and Desist" order, which remains in effect until a permit is obtained. If the work does not meet the requirements of the Building Codes, you may well have to redo the work at your cost. Additionally, work performed with out a required building permit may hold up the sale of your property in the future and may also affect an insurance claim. Before any work beings on your property, check with your insurance representative, who can explain exactly what is needed to ensure continuous and adequate coverage, both during and after the construction.
- What is a site plan? Please view this example.
- Who is my inspector? Please view our Inspections & Inspectors page as it will depend on what you are doing.
- What inspections will I need? Common inspections are listed with each inspector. Please be aware if you are doing a type of work that falls into one of these categories you will need to call for that inspection. It is up to you to know which inspections you will need and when you will need to call for them. If you are not certain of if or when you need an inspection it is your responsibility to contact that inspector.
- How will I know if I passed or failed an inspection? Typically inspectors will leave tags to indicated if your inspection has been passed or failed. A red tag is a failed inspection. You may also visit the Citizen Portal of our website to check on the status of permits and inspections along with other useful information.