new garage/outbuilding--do I need permits?


Old 05-18-00, 01:19 PM
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I am planning to build a smallish outbuilding on an existing foundation in my backyard (the original single-car garage that utilized the foundation burnt down years ago).
I am not building the structure to actually house any cars. We will use it for storage, but because the foundation was built for a single-car garage it will basically have the same dimensions as a single-car garage (but with a flat, tar-and-gravel roof). I'll also run minimal electricity to the building.
I know I should really obtain building permits to build this, but one side of the foundation butts up to the property line, and I'm afraid the city will tell me that I have to pour a new foundation (I've heard the city requires 6 feet of clearance from the property line for all new construction. Busting out the old foundation and building a new one is not an option. The lot is extremely narrow.
I guess what I'd like to know is if there is any way of building the structure and get around the need for permits. For example, if I call it a shed and don't store any vehicles in it, do I still need permits?
Also, if I decide to build it anyway (without obtaining permits) what exactly am I getting myself into? Is there a fine if the city finds out or would they try to demolish it?
Thanks for the advice.
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Old 05-18-00, 05:04 PM
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Call the building inspections department with your concern. Clarify that you are using an existing foundation that you are sure is not in compliance with current lot 'setback restrictions'. (You may want to do this anonomously--)

In many instances, you will be allowed to rebuild on the same foundation becaue most likely the structure that was there previously was built before they had the current'set-back' restrictions.

Your "shed" (whatever) could be exempt from the new restrictions under a "grandfather clause"

What do you have to lose by asking?

If you go forward with the project (either way), I recommend getting a permit

[This message has been edited by [email protected] (edited May 18, 2000).]
Old 05-19-00, 05:07 AM
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Yes, by all means contact the Permit people. If you proceed, you could be fined, and it is quite possible they will make you take it down.
Old 05-20-00, 10:04 AM
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Most permits are required due to the nature of the work to be performed, regardless of what your intended use is. The size of a single car garage would lead me to believe that you will probably still need one.

They will want to do a framing inspection and will probably want to look at your rough-in on any electrical. These are standard inspections whenever a permit is required.

If it were a bathroom remodel, probably no permit. If it were a total rennovation of the interior of your home, most likely a permit requirement.

Also, some localities require certain licenses or certifications to do any utility related (HVAC, plumbing, or electrical) work regardless of the size of the project. Better check on that too.

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