Homeowners and contractors in some Florida jurisdictions are running into an unexpected complication: They can't work on their houses, or in some cases sell or buy a house, because a permit taken out years ago was never properly closed out.

The Gainesville Sun has this report (see: "Expired permits cause complications," by Anthony Clark). In one case, the Sun reported, homeowners couldn't pull a permit for a roof repair because a permit for an earlier roof repair taken out in 2005—long before they bought their house—was still open. The earlier work had never been inspected.

Fortunately for that couple, the paper reports, the roofer who took out the earlier permit was still in business and was able to clear the matter up. "But other owners are having to hire contractors or engineers at their own expense, sometimes having to redo the work or do more to bring old construction up to current state building codes," the Sun reported. "Expired permits also are complicating home sales due to disclosure and permit search requirements added to the standard sales contracts adopted by Florida Realtors and the Florida Bar in 2010 in response to unsuspecting buyers faced with code violations following a frenzy of construction after several hurricanes. Gainesville real estate lawyer Robert Lash said an expired permit 'probably rears its wicked head' in 25 percent of the sales he handles."