Very expensive pond; no permit


Old 01-25-14, 09:25 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 5
Very expensive pond; no permit

I had a pond built by a well-known builder who assured me that no permit was required for a fish pond. I recall I actually researched it and came to the same conclusion that no permit was required. The pond was constructed by converting an existing (permitted) concrete block planter box into a pond. The pond has been up and running for over a year without any known structural problems and I was thinking about having the pond drainage hooked up to a drain line so I called the county building dept to inquire if a permit was required for that and they said yes, and that I also should have gotten a permit for the pond. Now the pond was very expensive (approximately 35K), and am concerned that the country may tell me it is not usable or even say I have to tear it down. So now I am trying to decide what to do. One thought was to hire an engineer to inspect the pond and hopefully certify that it is structurally sound. If that were to occur, what is the chance that the county could still require destructive inspection or not certify it?
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Old 01-25-14, 09:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: U.S.A.
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Not sure that I have any good suggestions otherwise, but, given that both you and your contractor felt that a permit was not required at the time that it was constructed, the first two questions that come to my mind are when was the pond built and when did the pond ordinance go into effect. Not sure how things have been across the nation, but, in my neck of the woods, MI, pond ordinances are becoming more common, but only within the past few years. And, if constructed prior to the ordinance, what does it say about pre-existing ponds. Depending on your jursidiction, you may be able to view the ordinance online.
Old 01-25-14, 09:46 AM
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Location: NC, USA
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First, I would remain polite and cordial and professional when dealing with any inspector or zoning officials. Arguing or getting hot will most likely end badly for you so take the high ground. I also would not panic. I think the mixed answers are probably more from confusion and "gray area" that there is not definite answer for what's required. You may be in a situation where you will get a different answer from different people in the zoning and inspections departments, especially if koi/fish ponds are not specifically written into the code. Is a fish pond a swimming pool, decorative water feature/fountain or just landscaping?

I can't imagine them requiring you to undergo anything destructive unless someone is a major bung hole and they want to punish them. I could see them requiring the electrical and any plumbing that permanently connects to the municipal supply to be up to code. Have "they" said what permits you should have?

For your new drain line work I could see a plumbing permit since you are permanently tying into the houses drain plumbing just like a bathroom. Some questions I would ask are: What pipe size will they require? Do you need a P trap? How about venting?

Last edited by lawrosa; 03-03-14 at 06:41 AM. Reason: Corrected statement to show nuetrality.
Old 01-25-14, 10:39 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 44,536
Used to be if something was finished for over a year it got grandfathered in .... at least that's how it was here locally. Might be something to check on. As PD stated, the local jurisdiction is usually a lot more accommodating to those that aren't confrontational.
Old 01-26-14, 08:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 5
I can't speak to the issue of the permit for the pond, but I do wonder why you want to tie the pond drain into the household plumbing system? Using the waste water to irrigate your lawn or water your garden makes sense even here in the east where water is plentiful.
Old 02-20-14, 04:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Louisville KY
Posts: 572
What's the latest on this? Also, how big is this pond? When I think of a cement block planter I think is something fairly small yet if I look at the price you provided it has to be awfully big.

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