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Thread: City building code question. ( Brilliant minds invited to answer )

  1. #1

    City building code question. ( Brilliant minds invited to answer )

    If a awning ( snow porch ) is built over a existing doorway to a residential building, without a permit. What can be done if the city discovers the illegal awning. Can a permit be issued after the structure has been built? Can the city give an exemtion to the regulations for the structure. What is the best couse of action in this matter?

  2. #2
    I am not sure it's the same thing... but my father did some "modifications" to his place of business and he assures me that when the city finds out, there's plenty of time to get a permit (I assume he talked it over with his lawyer or contractor or whatever). Maybe you could ask? A general question about if permit can act as a "patch" to fix regulation violations. Make it so it does not incriminate you.

  3. #3
    I am me, too!
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    For such a simple job,a permit is cheap. In general, anything that attach to the structure in a permanent way needs a permit. If you're only "Little Joe" on "Small Street", the city can, and will likely, demands the porch to be removed, plus the cost of the fine... If they don't notice it, you're ok but, I had to fight with them about a bathroom installed in my basement by the previous owner, probably 30 years ago and, since it didn't show in their documentation, they wanted me to pay a fine...

    It's not worth it, get a permit.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Peterman
    If a awning ( snow porch ) is built over a existing doorway to a residential building, without a permit. What can be done if the city discovers the illegal awning. Can a permit be issued after the structure has been built? Can the city give an exemtion to the regulations for the structure. What is the best couse of action in this matter?
    Which arrondissement - Plateau Mont Royal is very strict especially if the building is "historic". The addition would have to be in harmony historically and built according to various norms. On the Plateau there are regulations about replacing bricks, painting staircases, etc.

    Also you may have insurance issues. If the awning was not installed by a certified company but by amateurs and an accident happens your insurance company may refuse to pay.

  5. #5
    all basically right.
    if the city does find out something was built without a permit they can ask it be removed, but mostlikely they will ask for Achitectural drawings along with an Engineers stamp for structural....plus they will place a penalty ofa percentage of the buiulding permit cost...if it works out that your permit will cost $100 then they might tag on an additional $10 to $50 for a total of $150...

    Now if this structure does fall or some one does get hurt as a result of this additon.....and your insurance finds out it was not built to code...inspected....or approved...they might not cover any claims.

  6. #6
    I do not know anything in particular about situation in Montreal or Canada. In the USA, I have seen similar situations. If the awning otherwise meets code, it may be possible that you can still get the permit. Some cities may charge extra for the permit in such situations. If the awning does not meet code, you can try to appeal or ask for special permission to be exempted from the code requirements. This is usually a process where an application is filed, with a fee, and the matter is considered by a board appointed for such purposes. If you cannot get an exemption, the city could ask the court for an order requiring the owner to remove the illegal awning. If the city wished to, they could probably issue a violation for failing to pull the permit, possibly a misdemeanor, although it is not likely that a court would give jail time unless it was a situation where someone repeatedly ignored the law. Most cities just want the codes followed and the fees collected. Also, the local tax assessor may rely on the records of building permits to determine whether the property was improved, and therefore the tax assessment should be raised.

  7. #7
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    chowhound,

    That's a pretty good summary of what occurs in the US except that: (1) the owner will usually seek what is called a "variance" from the local zoning board. A variance is a non-conforming use that is not legal but is nevertheless allowed if there is an appropriate showing of hardship; (2) the City will issue what is called a "cease and desist" letter before going to Court, and if they go to Court it will be because the cease and desist letter has been ignored.

    I have a very good friend who is a municipal attorney and he is involved in exactly these kinds of issues. Usually, the best advice that can be given is to try and work something out that is acceptable to both sides without incurring huge fees, fines and potentially large attorney's fees. Unfortunately in many instances the building owner gets overly emotional over the issue, the emotionality takes over reason and rationality, and the proper communication that should have been made was not made, resulting in attorneys getting involved. I would estimate that 80% or more of the money I make is from clients who have failed to communicate properly and avail themselves of alternatives to litigation in resolving disputes.

    Of course, it does happen that a client will try to communicate with the zoning enforcement officer, and the zoning enforcement officer will take a position that is objectively unreasonable and demands being taken to Court. In those situations, depending on the amount of money at stake, attorney involvement and litigation are inevitable.

    JP, if the City will never notice this nonconforming use it may be worth taking a risk. If you are not a guy who likes to roll the dice in this fashion, reach out to the ZEO and see what the fees are for a permit without telling him about the nonconforming use. Play dumb. Then reassess your situation once you know what kind of money will be involved in conforming the use. Good luck.
    Last edited by EagerBeaver; 11-30-2007 at 11:12 AM.

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