Advice on building permit...retroactive or forget it?


Old 12-09-13, 10:14 AM
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Advice on building permit...retroactive or forget it?

Hi, I'm new to this site, and have found it very informative. Just wanted some opinions on how to handle a situation I have created.

About 6 years ago, I did pull a permit to replace my old rotted deck with a new deck that would have a (12x24) porch or 3 season room built on it. I submitted the plans and initially started the footings (which I had inspected) and the framing of the deck. The deck is only about a foot off the ground and it was planned and built and supported with the intentions of a load of a roof over top of it. Unfortunately, just at this time, both my parents became seriously ill, and I had to stop my project and take care of them. Being in a bind, and with winter fast approaching, I asked a friend of mine, (a licensed builder) to finish it for me. He did complete the framing and insulated it before winter arrived. I also had him run a circuit for lights and outlets. I know he did not finish my permit or get any additional permits along the way, but since he was doing this more as a favor for me in my situation in his spare time and on weekends, as a favor and for very little cost, I decided to just let it be. With both both my parents being terminally ill, this was the least of my concerns. At that time, I know I should of contacted the county and continued the permit, but he assured me all was OK, and that my room did not require it.....
After my parents had passed, I went ahead and finished it off. It did turn out nice and we truly love and enjoy it in the summer months. There is no plumbing in it or heat, besides a simple wall mounted space heater. We have had no issues, or any problems whatsoever with it.
I had the township come out and access it with no issues (they did receive a copy of the plans with the original permit application, too, so it was no surprise to them) nor did they mention any added permits. I called my home owners insurance company and it was added onto my policy with no problems.
So, my dilemma is that I feel bad knowing this was completed without the permit. I have talked to a few contractors and they said it is not a problem and to stop losing sleep over this. (Which I am!) It is on the back of my house and I live in a rural area, and they say if they were paid as contractor to do this job, they would technically have had to get a permit, but with it so close to the ground and it's size, as a homeowner, I am fine.
But, having a conscious, I would like to make this right. I am afraid if I contact the county for a retroactive permit, they will try and go overboard and punish me for this or make my life hell. The inside is finished in tongue and groove paneling, so accessing the walls now would be a major issue. I do have many photos though of the framing as it was being built however, so hopefully they could just look at those photos.
I am hoping that since I did pay for the original permit, and my plans and structure were designed and approved for putting a roof on it, that they will go easy on me.....but I am not sure how to proceed, or if I even should.
Also, I don't want to get my builder friend in trouble, who truly did this to help me in a bind.
Hopefully someone on this site has dealt with this type of situation before and can give me advice and any other personal experience they have had like this.
Again, I know any contractor here will have to legally tell me that technically I must get this permit. But I know technically you have to get a permit to replace a toilet in some counties, and no homeowner ever does, but I just want any knowledgeable opinions as homeowners or DIY's.

Don't beat me up for this, but any thoughts or suggestions on this would be appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old 12-09-13, 10:45 AM
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Personally, I probably wouldn't sweat it too much. I did much the same with a shed on slab that I built. Never called for any inspections though I guess I should have. About 3 yrs later I noticed it had been added to the tax assessment. Never an issue even when it came time to sell.

May be different with yours since it's attached, insulated, and has electric. Best thing I can say is go to the office, explain the situation (no last names of course) and find out how best to resolve it. Find out when one of the inspectors will be there, or when it's slow.
Old 12-09-13, 01:45 PM
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I'd be inclined to leave it as is. It's possible it will never be an issue and if/when it is - that's when I'd address it. FWIW - I used to own property that had a lot of unpermitted work done that never became an issue, even when I sold the property ...... but that was 20+ yrs ago.

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