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Question DetailsAsked on 5/13/2017

My house was built on 4ft of fill in 1993,I had retaining wall permitted & built.

I just extended my pool enclosure by 10 ft to the top of the retaining wall & want to get an "after the fact permit".Am I looking at a bunch of fines, and is there a chance I will have to take it down. The person that did the work followed all current codes

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Fines for failing to get a permit are commonly equal to the permit cost - i.e. they charge you double for the after-the-fact permit, so depending on your local permit fees can be very little or a lot. Some cities who use their building permits as a general revenue source add on other penalties - mostly in larger cities.

Normally you only have to take it down if the structural analysis says it is unsafe and it cannot reasonably be made safe with some mods - certainly not likely to be the case with a pool enclosure, though if the retaining wall was not designed for the load may require addition of some pin piles or such to beef it up. Generally, a pool enclosure (assuming this is an outdoor enclosure, not actually part of the house enclosing an "indoor pool", does not have to have deep foundation to below frost depth so that is unlikely to be a major issue. Though if glass enclosure should have been put on deep foundations - at least 3 feet deep - to minimize the chance of the glass breaking from ground/foundation movements.

You are certainly going to need an after-the-fact structural/architectural assessment with structural analysis showing the structure and foundations are OK as-is (or with modifications). Likely cost, off-the-cuff - certainly $500 and depending on availability of structural design calcs from the builder/manufacturer of the enclosure, maybe more like $1000 range - not including any remedial work needed to meet building code or provide adequate foundation.

(BTW - if you put the enclosure on top of the retaining wall or very close behind it, unless this was a quite substantial cast concrete wall, not a great idea because of the likelihood of differential settlemetn between the wall and the surrounding soil which the rest of the foundation (assuming strip footing) sits on - could well lead to cracking ofthe enclosure down the road if glass rather than just fabric.

You say the person who did the work followed all modern codes. Well, hate to break it to you, but assuming building permits are needed in your area for this type of construction then getting a building permit is a code requirement, as is proper foundation design. If you had this done by a contractor, unless the contract called for you getting the permit (in which case, your bad), he should have gotten structural/foundation design and the permit, so you may well have recourse against that contractor to make it good at his expense.

One other consideration may be Planning and Zoning permit/approval - which can also involve penalties at times, but more important if in violation of zoning regulations that is the more common reason for construction to have to be torn down - though in most (not all) areas you can apply for and maybe get after the fact waivers. After the fact waivers on lot line clearances or appearance items and such can be an issue, because neighbors (who generally get mailed or can see a posted notice of application for the waiver) have now seen the item and sometimes object when they would not have objected to a pre-construction application. Also sometimes becomes a way for neighbors with a grudge to get even with people, if you have a "neighbor from hell" or such.

So - in this sort of case, if there is a chance of P&Z waiver being needed or objections to an after-the-fact permit application, it is commonly better to go with an Architecture/Engineering firm who routinely handles permits for owners to do both the structural building permit and the P&Z application - they normally know the government agency people involved and the procedures, so can get an after-the-fact applicstion through easier. Especially if in a special land use area, under jurisdiction of California Coastal Commission or similar entity, etc. This sort of permitting support would normally, after-the-fact, run from $500-1000 if it goes through smoothly (not including any permit fees or penalties), and on up if they have to go through public hearings or board meetings to defend the application. (Commonly about $100/man-hour billing rate for a senior engineer or architect to represent you in that sort of issue).

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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