Consequences of building w/o a permit and getting caught?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by dheat, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. dheat

    dheat Well-Known Member

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    What are the consequences of building without a permit and getting "caught" after construction is completed? Will the local government condemn the building? Make you complete the permitting process and demonstrate you build to code? Fine you? All of the above and then some? Has anyone here, "been there, done that"?

    Thanks,

    Doug
     
  2. salmonslayer

    salmonslayer Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Where we used to live in Alaska you were subject to fines and they would literally make you remove the illegal construction. That was usually applied to sheds, porches, decks etc, but the fines were prohibitive and the rebuilding process could be a nightmare because you were then marked by the city building department for special scruitiny.

    Its a big risk in most communities with building codes and when you go to sell your place most buyers want an independant engineering inspection which will include an as built survey etc.
     

  3. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

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    Years ago I recall hearing that in Alaska, while building a cabin was permitted in the boonies, the cabin had to be built to certain standards. The zoning terrorists would fly around, spot a cabin, if they determined it was out of spec then it would be set alight (with contents) and the variance would no longer be a problem.

    Better to have a charred spot on the landscape than an illegal structure.
     
  4. ||Downhome||

    ||Downhome|| Born in the wrong Century

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    here they make you tear it down and fine you. and Im sure like SS points out you will get extra special attention in the next round.

    they have to inspect every phase of building, you recive (purchase) permits all through the process first inspection,second inspection and final. not all in a blanket either plumbing,electrical,hvac,roof and the actual framing and finishing. I'm sure theres more I only ever delt with a few phases as a worker so Im sure I left out a few things.
     
  5. KeithBC

    KeithBC Active Member

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    It depends on your jurisdiction and what you actually built.

    If you built to code but just didn't get it permitted or inspected, they'll likely make you do the paperwork, get the inspections, pay the fees and you'll be okay. A worse consequence is if your house burns down - your insurance could decide not to pay up, since you didn't follow the regulations.

    'Course in some jurisdictions, they may be hard@sses and make you tear it all down.
     
  6. wyld thang

    wyld thang God Smacked Jesus Freak Supporter

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    yup, this. And it just depends on your location as well, how well you are concealed and how well you get along with neighbors--it's easy to tick one off and they are smart enough to call the building inspectors.

    Here(in a rural county) you can build a 20 x20 outbuilding with no permit. SO I know of a few people who began their house that way, and gradually added stuff in.

    Most of the trouble of not building to code(outside of tax roles etc) is either building stupid, it won't get insured, or you can't sell it with the same sort of value as a code building(if you can include it at all in the assessment of the value of the property for a loan).

    Otherwise, I know my house was built without a permit (to "enough" code) and grandfathered in and "forgiven"/approved after the fact when they wanted to sell it--30 years ago. I had a neighbor who lived in a garden shed, and one who turned a pole barn into a house(over the course of 20 years...he did get the final check off on everything, but he laid low, and in dragging his feet for sooooo long, got put on the back shelf as it were and left alone.)

    ANother trick is to have the inpsector come out on the worst day, when things are muddy and wet and cold, and then talk about how the weather is going to stay that way for the next month, and keep moaning about the mud and stuff as you follow them around and then the inspector will check you off so they don't have to come back out :D
     
  7. Molly Mckee

    Molly Mckee Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One of our neighbors did that about 10 years ago---by the time the county got through with him it was cheaper to tear his house down than pay the fines and permits. It was built to code--just not permitted.
    Don't forget than many counties are using photo's from the air to check properties for violations.
    If you ever want to sell you have to sigh a statement that everything is according to code and permitted. Molly
     
  8. Lizza

    Lizza Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Depends on where you live but if you live in a place that you have to have a permit or their will be fines/consequences, it is much cheaper and faster to just take the permits out. We bought a place with an illegal structure, what a nightmare. There solution was for us to burn it, we saved it, but it was a toss up and it was very expensive for us to keep it but since we hadn't paid for it in the first place it was worth it (we also had to hire a lawyer to help us). Here they can charge you $1,000 a day for non-compliance, every day that you go past their set date for you to do something. Someone in town fought the County here and they sold his house on the auction blocks. Just don't do it, take out the permits.
     
  9. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    You need to check into this ahead of time for your particular area. Don't trust whatever information you get in a thread as you're not likely to be finding people in your own county/city limits who can give you accurate info.

    I'm not against building without a permit, and in fact I'm generally for it. However you need to know the consequences before you do so.
     
  10. ChristieAcres

    ChristieAcres Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am with Ernie, would sure NOT want to live the consequences of the wrong choice. It pays to know your local building codes (UBC's don't cover every type of structure). What they don't cover, can be legally condemned and torn down. That could happen anywhere there are UBC's in place. A neighbor called and we were chatting about the garage he was building, just up the street. He told me that he was debating getting a permit or NOT. I told him that if he didn't, it sure better be to code specs, and meet all the requirements. I already see a potential issue for him, as he has a view property, there is a steep slope, and I don't think he has met the setback requirement. All your local variables have to be covered... Our UBC's are changing and will apply to all structures built without a permit, except for those grandfathered in... There will be a lot of buildings condemned and torn down.

    My DH's brother built an incredible 1,200 sq foot treehouse, about 10 years ago. Here, there are no UBC's for treehouses... When he died, unexpectantly, the County came in, and condemned it. My in-laws paid to have it dismantled piece-by-piece, were given no time extension, threatened with fine, while still in mourning. Almost every single piece of wood has been used by us or them. Since there were some local gov officials who had violated the limit of size (200 sq feet is allowed for treehouses & they aren't allowed to be lived in...)? They are now working to get UBC's for them. Too late for "Paul's" work of art...
     
  11. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    It depends on the area.

    Where I live they give you a big fine PER DAY until you have met all of their requirements. Depending on what it is, they might also make you tear it down, ESPECIALLY if it is not to code.
     
  12. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    In a case in a town to the south of us they forced the home owner to tear down his very expensive house. Frankly it was a personal battle between people and a waste of resources.

    I would suggest not living or building where you have to get zoning permits, construction permits, etc. Then it won't be an issue.
     
  13. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    Not too many of those left. Which is a good thing.
     
  14. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    I recall an older guy in town took out a building permit for a garage.....and then built a house. It was not built to code. He was given 3 choices, tear it down, bring it up to code, or sell it to someone that could bring it up to code.
    He sold the house at a "for next to nothing price".

    I suspect the consequences of building w/o a permit and getting caught vary from county to county, and state to state.

    For the record. My Father worked as the zoning administrator in his county for 15 years. He told me 99.9% of all zoning violations were reported by the neighbors.
     
  15. hotzcatz

    hotzcatz Well-Known Member

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    The requirements for permits vary by district. In our district, if you build something without a permit and they find you, they ask that you bring the building up to code and get the paperwork. It is a more difficult time getting the paperwork for an already built building, though, since they check everything on those buildings. If you don't bring it up to code and get permits, there are fines and eventually the building violation is torn down.

    Also, in our district, banks won't loan on a structure unless it has a permit so un-permitted buildings sell for a lot less than those which have the proper paperwork. I'm sure insurance agencies have their own rules regarding permitted/unpermitted structures, but I don't know what they are.
     
  16. Michael W. Smith

    Michael W. Smith Well-Known Member

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    With today's technology of satellites, building a structure without the proper permits leads you to the question of WHEN you will be caught, not IF you are caught!

    I really don't think it's worth it to live your life as you continually wonder "Is this the day I get a vist from the authority?"
     
  17. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to my world!
     
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  18. palani

    palani Well-Known Member

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    Which "code" were YOU constructed to?

    If you prove to be not wired properly could you be dismantled for a new improved model?
     
  19. arabian knight

    arabian knight Miniature Horse lover Supporter

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    My Dad was a plumbing inspector for a large city in WI. and I have worked side by side with a USDA inspector at one of the places I worked at. Most of my family has been in the plumbing and heating business for years so inspections and being around them and seeing just what and why they are needed is where I am coming from. So anybody that is doing something to get around being inspected and or the proper permits gets no good post or sympathy from me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
  20. Ernie

    Ernie Well-Known Member

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    I believe that building codes should exist and must be enforced in a city. You have large amounts of people living close together and I don't want my home burned down because the idiot next to me can't tell a black wire from a red one.

    However in areas zones agricultural I don't see why they exist at all. If I burn down my house it's not likely to spread to the nearest neighbor (400+ yards away).

    Most of the building codes seem specifically designed to do nothing more than keep land prices artificially high.
     
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