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Old 03-28-2009, 10:17 PM   #16
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advice/Help on non-permitted bonus room?


I brought the fridge to the dump
Moved the shed to the back yard
The enclosed porch stayed, no tear out or permit required
I think the fact that I went to him before purchase helped greatly

The new front deck that they started to wall in I returned to just a deck

House was rundown & I wanted to fix it up
So I think they were happy to see it sell
I know the neighbors were happy

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Old 03-28-2009, 11:41 PM   #17
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First of all, I'm a building inspector so I often lack sympathy in these sorts of situations...

But I have to say that this is a crock of you-know-what. There may not be a statute of limitations or there might be, but they're waaaay out of line to be making your pull a permit or do anything to a structure that's been there that long. Total BS. I don't care how unsafe or illegal it is,

If the structure was a year or two old I can see this happening.

I'd sit down and write a formal letter of complaint to the mayor, the building official, and each member of the city council. I might even call the paper and local media. An hour with an attorney might be worth the money as well. My main statement would be "I agree that the structure may have not had a permit back in 1969. I'd like to see your permit records from 1969. I'd like to know why it took the city 40 years to determine that this structure failed to meet the city's standards and why action has not been taken until now."

I sure as heck wouldn't just comply with them without making sure there was no other choice. So what if you piss them off...The worst thing they can do to you is what they're doing!
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:57 AM   #18
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That may well be true, KC, but IMO it's no use complaining the door wasn't shut now the horse has bolted from the farm. Fact is, that they hold the cards and our OP may not have the experience you do - nor the muscle - to bring an argument to them in that fashion.

But KC did mention something that no-one else did: lawyers. My first question to myself was: Where were the lawyers at closing? isn't that why we have lawyers in real estate dealings, to check for variations and liens and titles - all things that prevent from dealing with the mess we see here happening?

If lawyers were involved at the closing, I'd bring them back under threat. If they weren't there at closing, why not? If they weren't there because someone didn't bother to hire them, then it is what it is. You may face demo charges and or/fines to salvage this mess. But sit down and talk with them - they're on your side too, if you're willing to work with them. Right now you're working with "what-ifs"...get the facts!

But first, I'd get a lawyer NOW before you get railroaded into something as KC says is overkill. There is a solution - and knowing or not knowing the law will have a lot to do with it.

Right now you're looking like a cheap homeowner who got caught. You need someone to stand with you.
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:12 PM   #19
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advice/Help on non-permitted bonus room?


Im no fan of building inspectors but I have to say KC's advice was pretty useful and a great idea. Remember elected officials love to get those votes!
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccarlisle View Post
That may well be true, KC, but IMO it's no use complaining the door wasn't shut now the horse has bolted from the farm. Fact is, that they hold the cards and our OP may not have the experience you do - nor the muscle - to bring an argument to them in that fashion.

But KC did mention something that no-one else did: lawyers. My first question to myself was: Where were the lawyers at closing? isn't that why we have lawyers in real estate dealings, to check for variations and liens and titles - all things that prevent from dealing with the mess we see here happening?

If lawyers were involved at the closing, I'd bring them back under threat. If they weren't there at closing, why not? If they weren't there because someone didn't bother to hire them, then it is what it is. You may face demo charges and or/fines to salvage this mess. But sit down and talk with them - they're on your side too, if you're willing to work with them. Right now you're working with "what-ifs"...get the facts!

But first, I'd get a lawyer NOW before you get railroaded into something as KC says is overkill. There is a solution - and knowing or not knowing the law will have a lot to do with it.

Right now you're looking like a cheap homeowner who got caught. You need someone to stand with you.
Read the thread
He knew of the unpermitted work & signed off on it at purchase
So he is left holding the bag - he signed a release

I agree with the 40 year old issue
If it's been there that long thru multiple owners I do not see the City having much to stand on as far as tearing it down. I think primary action on there part is to make sure it meets code. Also on the variance - the building inspector can't issue one (here) either. On my last hoiuse there was a window facing the lot beside me - on the lot line. By code it should not have been there, but he allowed it since it was there. I just wanted to upgrade it to a new window
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Old 03-29-2009, 12:45 PM   #21
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advice/Help on non-permitted bonus room?


The sad thing here is that if the OP had pulled the required permits for the remodel and rented a dumpster instead of piling trash in the driveway, it's unlikely the 40 yr old unpermitted room would have ever become an issue

I agree with termite on how to approach it. You may end up having to tear out some of your new work for inspection and possibly pay a fine, but I doubt they'll make you tear down the whole thing.


Don't know if there might be any relevance, but I'm told that here if a fence stands undisputed for 10 yrs it becomes the property line. You might check with a lawyer to see if any similar "grandfather" laws might be applicable in your case.

Last edited by ratherbefishin'; 03-29-2009 at 12:59 PM.
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Old 03-30-2009, 01:51 AM   #22
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To thekctermite, I can only hope this inspector feels the same way once I talk to him. He did not return my calls on Friday, but I will try him again in the morning tomorrow.

To ratherbefishin', I don't think you understand. For the record, the old owners were supposed to remove their stuff when they left and didn;t. I actually paid a junk hauler $400 to take away 2 flatbed trucks full of their crap. I then rented a dumpster and filled it and rented another dumpster and filled that. The only thing left on my driveway was a computer desk and a chair. On top of the computer desk was about 20 broken down cardboard boxes from us unpacking. Personally I don't see why this was even an issue. I have lised in Orange County all my life in 4 other cities and never seen the city care about anything like this. This city must either be hurting for money and wanting to fine people, or this inspector was just bored. I am still in the process of unpacking and will rent another dumpster when I can fill one up, but I thought it was pointless to spend $100 to get rid of a desk, chair and some empty boxes. What bothers me about that is that I could drive a mile in any direction and find worse. Actual junk cars, junk appliances, just junk in general that is sitting in plain view in front of peoples houses that has been there for years. This was obviously not something that was going to be a permanant fixture in front of my house and I think it was a cheap shot for the city to even mention it. This whole situation makes me feel like I picked the wrong city to live in.
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Old 03-31-2009, 12:20 PM   #23
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Orange County. I don't know who guided you through this buying fiasco, but I would certainly take issue with him or her. Being as naive as you were, it was criminal.
Who allows a homeowner to sign a release of responsibility for unpermitted work? Who doesn't do a walk through proir to closing to see if all the things that were supposed to be done, were done.
Where was your lawyer during this process? Or Buyer's agent if you had one?
I find this a stunning example of professional negligence.
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Old 03-31-2009, 01:52 PM   #24
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Ummm....I did

My last house
No home inspection
House bought as is
Septic may have been in a failed state

On the plus side
After I bought the house it was appraised at almost 3x what I paid. Even after a new Septic was installed the value of the house was double what I paid for it
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Old 03-31-2009, 06:32 PM   #25
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I would highly doubt they will make you tear it down. The addition has been there for forty years; that means the neighbor that was there when it was built did not have a problem with it. If new neighbors, it was there when they moved in.

In MN if you put your fence or build something on your neighbors property and nothing is said for X number of years (I think 7) they can not make you tear it down. I think it is called easement by prescription, but do not recall for sure.

Most building inspectors are reasonable people, most likely you will have to pay double the permit fee, get it inspected and you should be fine. The electrical inspector may or may not have you remove sheet rock.

I really do not think the set back should be a problem it has been there for forty years.

As far as making the inspector happy; do what they ask without argument, even though they may not be correct.
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Old 03-31-2009, 06:43 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
First of all, I'm a building inspector so I often lack sympathy in these sorts of situations...

But I have to say that this is a crock of you-know-what. There may not be a statute of limitations or there might be, but they're waaaay out of line to be making your pull a permit or do anything to a structure that's been there that long. Total BS. I don't care how unsafe or illegal it is,

If the structure was a year or two old I can see this happening.

I'd sit down and write a formal letter of complaint to the mayor, the building official, and each member of the city council. I might even call the paper and local media. An hour with an attorney might be worth the money as well. My main statement would be "I agree that the structure may have not had a permit back in 1969. I'd like to see your permit records from 1969. I'd like to know why it took the city 40 years to determine that this structure failed to meet the city's standards and why action has not been taken until now."

I sure as heck wouldn't just comply with them without making sure there was no other choice. So what if you piss them off...The worst thing they can do to you is what they're doing!
I don't think the issue is with the 1969 building permit. the OP did remodeling before moving in.

From first post
Quote:
I rewired and re-insulated the bonus room myself before moving in, along with new drywall inside and new sliding glass door.
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:18 PM   #27
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I still think this is an issue of "overrepairing" a non-conforming structure. In my area, which probably has far less restrictions than OC, you can not get a permit (or do the work W/O permit) to spend more than 50% of the exist value for improvements to a non-conforming structure.

Example: The OP's room in question is retro-assessed at $20,000.
He is not permitted to spend more than $10,000 on improvements to this room.
Obviously, his muni may have a different ratio, but I think this is the reason the Inspector is on him posibly.

I may be dead wrong, but either way, I hope the OP can hash this out in simple fashion with the Building Dept. Best of Luck!
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Old 03-31-2009, 07:48 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by jomama45 View Post
I still think this is an issue of "overrepairing" a non-conforming structure. In my area, which probably has far less restrictions than OC, you can not get a permit (or do the work W/O permit) to spend more than 50% of the exist value for improvements to a non-conforming structure.

Example: The OP's room in question is retro-assessed at $20,000.
He is not permitted to spend more than $10,000 on improvements to this room.
Obviously, his muni may have a different ratio, but I think this is the reason the Inspector is on him posibly.

I may be dead wrong, but either way, I hope the OP can hash this out in simple fashion with the Building Dept. Best of Luck!
As thekctermite said I think it would be tough to "prove" one wasn't pulled. Even if they keep records that far back, who is to say it wasn't lost. I would be willing to bet they have been paying property taxes on it most of those forty years.
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Old 03-31-2009, 08:18 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by brokenknee View Post
As thekctermite said I think it would be tough to "prove" one wasn't pulled. Even if they keep records that far back, who is to say it wasn't lost. I would be willing to bet they have been paying property taxes on it most of those forty years.
That's has nothing to do with the point I'm trying to make. Building permit or not in 1969, if it doesn't meet current setbacks, it's fit's the large catergory of Non-Conforming. Unless they got a variance in 1969, which may still stand up. Undoubtedly, setbacks have changed in 40 years, making many structures N-C. This property was probaly "grandfathered" in until major work was done. Again, this is only a shot in the dark, as we're probably 1000 miles apart, but I think his area is more stringent than mine. Hopefully the OP let's us know how this pans out so we can all learn from this.
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Old 03-31-2009, 10:08 PM   #30
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I appreciate the advice and agree with most. But the whole thing of over-repairing the room I think is going a little too far. I spent $1,000 on new sliding vinyl door and installation. I spent about $500 on drywall and insulation and paid a friend $200 to put it up. I paid an el;ectrician $600 to re-wire the room. I spent $400 on new carpet and then I spent another $300 on light fixtures. All together I'm about $3,000 into a room that is about 250 square feet with a fireplace. In my city, the going rate per square foot of house is about $200(permitted of courrse). But even cutting that in half, this si a $25,000 room that I put $3,000 into. Lots of labor was my own or friends (carpet layer is a friend, electrician is a friend, drywaller is a friend and my brother installed the sliding window). Much more time than money was spent on this room. Even if I had paid regular prices I doubt it would have cost me $7500 on a room that would be worth $50,000 on the home value if it was legit.



On a side note, I just talked to a lawyer and have a formal consultation the day after tomorrow. From what he initially told me on the phone I am in a bad spot. He said he has seen similar cases where the city did either force a demolition or just flat not allow you to live in the home until the issue was resolved. He said worst case scenario, teh city will send a contractor to my house and forcibly demo the room and then send me a bill. If I cannot pay, they can place a lien on the house. He said my chances are 50/50 on that happening. He said it will all depend on how I present my case and how sympathetic the city will be.

If you are interested, I will keep posting so you all know what happens. Hoping for the best, but with my luck so far I am expecting the worst.

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