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Old 06-23-2008, 05:36 PM   #1
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


Hi everyone,
We're planning on adding a master suite.

We want to add on a master addition upstairs (permitted) on top of a no permit room that is used as the family room. We bought the house knowing it didn't have a permit for the room, but never thought about what would happen if we decided to add on.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. BTW we live in California if that makes a difference.

Thanks.

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Old 06-23-2008, 06:00 PM   #2
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


thekctermite...where are you??

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Old 06-23-2008, 07:08 PM   #3
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


well, I can't speak to Cali specifically but generally, it will be up to the permit issuing authority to tell you if you can do what you want.

Since the one room is not permitted, they most likely will require you to purchase a permit for that room and have it inspected so they can issue a C of O. Then, you can go on and apply for a permit for what you want to build and go from there.

be warned; the permitting authority has the right to demand demolition of any substandard building. They can also have you partially demolish the room so they can inspect any part of it.

I have not seen a total demo in cases other than the building was nowhere near code and truly not repairable but I have seen them require sheetrock be removed (large areas) so they can inspect behind it.
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Old 06-23-2008, 08:40 PM   #4
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


Wow, I was afraid of that. I guess we could look into adding on somewhere else, but that was the largest area - it's the back of the house. Well I appreciate your input, and the heads up.
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Old 06-24-2008, 12:53 AM   #5
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Honestly, I doubt this will even come up, but I can't speak for your local building department. You have to understand that the building inspector has no idea what has and hasn't been done in your house in most cases. We go into literally thousands of homes during the course of a year, and remembering them all would be a challenge. If you purchased the house from someone that might have remodeled the family room (hint-hint), you certainly can't be held responsible because the city failed to require a permit for the previous owner's work, and never took action against the owner.

I'd call the inspector anonymously and ask their stance on this. Don't give details, but tell them the problem and express your concerns. I don't mind answering anonymous questions when people have concerns like this, just don't play games with them. Tell them you want to play by the rules on all the work you're planning to do. I'd be willing to bet that they'll say that they're only there to look at the permitted scope of work. If it doesn't go that way, call your councilman and discuss with him/her.

If I were doing an inspection for your new room and I walked through a room that had obviously been remodeled, I'd have little or nothing to say about it if I didn't catch you in the act of doing it. Although I'd rather that you'd obtained a permit...I'm going to take into consideration that I am in your home because you DID get a permit for this work. If your other room burns down because you didn't give me the opportunity to look at it, I think I've got my "get out of jail free card." That's just me though.

This really comes down to the temperament of the inspector and the city's policies. Just call and ask, and remember that they probably have caller ID.

Last edited by Termite; 06-24-2008 at 12:57 AM.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:01 AM   #6
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
well, I can't speak to Cali specifically but generally, it will be up to the permit issuing authority to tell you if you can do what you want.

Since the one room is not permitted, they most likely will require you to purchase a permit for that room and have it inspected so they can issue a C of O. Then, you can go on and apply for a permit for what you want to build and go from there.

be warned; the permitting authority has the right to demand demolition of any substandard building. They can also have you partially demolish the room so they can inspect any part of it.

I have not seen a total demo in cases other than the building was nowhere near code and truly not repairable but I have seen them require sheetrock be removed (large areas) so they can inspect behind it.
I've made people tear out entire foundations, de-sheetrock entire homes, and tear finished ceilings off of covered patios. But, they were all people that I caught in the act of doing the work illegally. Or they were people that failed to get the required inspections on their permit. If I catch someone breaking the rules, it is game on, and life's going to be hard for a while. Play by the rules and I'm as fair as any inspector could ever be. Most inspectors and jurisdictions will behave the same way from my experience.
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Old 06-24-2008, 01:23 AM   #7
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


Thanks for the information, you're a mind reader that the room has been "remodeled" .

Okay,so this brings up another related question. We will be hiring someone to do the framework, plumbing, electrical, and roofing, but we're going to do the sheet rock, flooring, painting - maybe windows. Will a contractor touch this?
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Old 06-24-2008, 06:42 AM   #8
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


got to disagree with ya here.

I used to sell real estate and for some reason the local inspectors seemed to know when there was an addition to a house and they made the issue about a non-permitted build. This was even when there was no permit being pulled for additional work. There are extreme cases of house sales where illegal builds have been discovered and threw a wrench into the works.

Quote:
You have to understand that the building inspector has no idea what has and hasn't been done in your house in most cases.
Not neccessarily true. When a building is originally permitted, a floor plan is submitted. When permits are pulled for work, they are added to the file. Especially because you intend on pulling a permit, they will be in your file and all work permitted will be right in front of them.

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I'd be willing to bet that they'll say that they're only there to look at the permitted scope of work. If it doesn't go that way, call your councilman and discuss with him/her.
what would the councilman have to do with this. If an illegal build is discovered, it is, well, simply, it's illegal.


as thekctermite said, they may not notice BUT again, they might.


as to will a builder touch this; I know if no builders that check for previous permits. It is not neccessary. As long as the current work is permitted, that is all that is needed.

btw: it doesn't matter if you do not build on top of this illegal room or not if it is visible to the inspector. Once they see the work and IF they are aware it is illegal, they can do whatever they want at that point.

dang, as I am setting here typing this, there is a story on the news where an addition to a house is being required to be torn down even though there was a permit for it. It is too tall for the area but the city issued a permit. The neighbors complained and not the city is making him tear it down. He said it will take $70k just to tear it down. No idea what it cost to put it up.

anything is possible. trying to figure out what is probable is very difficult. plan for the worst, hope for the best and you will be fine.
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Old 06-24-2008, 07:38 AM   #9
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


Won't they have a problem especially with the non permit room because it will be load bearing.
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Old 06-24-2008, 09:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
Not neccessarily true. When a building is originally permitted, a floor plan is submitted. When permits are pulled for work, they are added to the file. Especially because you intend on pulling a permit, they will be in your file and all work permitted will be right in front of them.

what would the councilman have to do with this. If an illegal build is discovered, it is, well, simply, it's illegal.
There isn't always a "file" of all the plans ever submitted for a house. Most...Not all but most cities retain plans for the required time period of a few years and then chuck them or send them to off-site storage. They take an amazing amount of space. In most cases, city officials aren't digging up the old files, memorizing them, and trying to hang people for portions of their homes that weren't permitted. I'm sure it happens, but I have yet to see it.

A councilman can be an asset when a city official is overstepping their bounds, as they would be (in my opinion) by penalizing the new owner for the previous owner's non-permitted work. This would be very bad press for a city, and councilmen hate bad press.

Just goes to show you that opinions on this vary, and that procedures will be drastically different from city to city. I've worked in one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in the midwest, and we'd never have considered sticking our nose in something that wasn't caught when it was being done.
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Old 06-24-2008, 10:00 AM   #11
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Permitted addition over a No Permit


Without plans or an inspection inside the walls how would you determine if it would support a second story? Could be framed on 2' centers.
Just wondering.
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Old 06-24-2008, 11:17 AM   #12
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Code, and most jurisdictions, requires that the plans be done by a design professional (architect or engineer). Bearing should be taken into account by the designer.
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Old 06-24-2008, 04:43 PM   #13
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Quote:
A councilman can be an asset when a city official is overstepping their bounds, as they would be (in my opinion) by penalizing the new owner for the previous owner's non-permitted work. This would be very bad press for a city, and councilmen hate bad press.
I really must disagree with this. It is the duty of the inspector to ensure that all building in their jurisdiction is built following code requirements.

let me ask you this; if you bought a house that did not have a permit to build an addition and you knew it did not have a permit, if the build was found to be so substandard it was unsafe, who would you blame? The seller? Why? you knew it was not permitted so the quality was not verified by the inspector. You knew it was not permitted so how can you hold the seller to anything? The inspector? Of course not, they were unaware of the build.

Guess who that leaves holding the broken sticks.

Oh nevermind, I'll just sell it to the next sucker.

that is why the inspector has the right and the duty to inspect all builds, even if it is after the fact.
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Old 06-24-2008, 05:11 PM   #14
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NAP, I don't disagree with your train of thought. We're often put in the position of balancing what is right and what is fair. Your point about the disclosure to the seller regarding the non-permitted work is valid, assuming that disclosure occurs.

I'm as hard an inspector as you'll find, but I also try to be fair at the same time. This one's a challenge.

Just thinking out loud...Put yourself in the inspector's shoes. You walk in to a house and determine that work was done sometime in the past by a previous owner. You want to inspect it. You don't know when the work was done, nor do you have any way of determining it, short of guessing. There is a new code cycle and adoption every three years, with significant changes in many cases from cycle to cycle. What code do you apply?

The IRC code says this:

Additions, alterations, or repairs to any structure shall conform to that required for a new structure without requiring the existing structure to comply with all of the requirements of this code, unless otherwise stated.

This could be interpreted to mean that I am required to ignore unsafe conditions that were assumed to have met code years ago when they were installed. The code does give the AHJ the right to require basically anything they want in the interest of a building's occupants or public safety, however. So, we operate in a grey interpretive area here, and it is subject to individual AHJ's policies.
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Old 06-24-2008, 06:20 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
NAP, I don't disagree with your train of thought. We're often put in the position of balancing what is right and what is fair. Your point about the disclosure to the seller regarding the non-permitted work is valid, assuming that disclosure occurs.

I'm as hard an inspector as you'll find, but I also try to be fair at the same time. This one's a challenge.

Just thinking out loud...Put yourself in the inspector's shoes. You walk in to a house and determine that work was done sometime in the past by a previous owner. You want to inspect it. You don't know when the work was done, nor do you have any way of determining it, short of guessing. There is a new code cycle and adoption every three years, with significant changes in many cases from cycle to cycle. What code do you apply?

The IRC code says this:

Additions, alterations, or repairs to any structure shall conform to that required for a new structure without requiring the existing structure to comply with all of the requirements of this code, unless otherwise stated.

This could be interpreted to mean that I am required to ignore unsafe conditions that were assumed to have met code years ago when they were installed. The code does give the AHJ the right to require basically anything they want in the interest of a building's occupants or public safety, however. So, we operate in a grey interpretive area here, and it is subject to individual AHJ's policies.
The code in my area has something similar to that statement also. The next line is:

"Additions, alterations or repairs shall not cause an existing building or structure to
become unsafe or overloaded."

So where does the responsibility lie for determining this? I can't see that it would be the inspector in the field unless it was really egregious. My guess is that it would be the responsibility of the engineer who signed off on the plans.

In any case, it still doesn't address whether the existing structure was permitted or not.

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