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Question DetailsAsked on 4/27/2016

What happens to me, with code enforcement, when the contractor failed to secure a permit on our finished carport?

I used to get 2 pro estimates on a steel carport in front of home. I asked for any city requirements & both said the measurements 7 ft from street & 5 ft from neighbor meet city requirements. Code enforcement came, no permit filed, neighbor comp,ain't, & now I'm not getting assistance from builder. I tried due diligence using HomeAdvisor & screening estimates upfront. I don't want to tear down & afraid of moms $4k being a loss. She's stage 4 brain cancer. Worse timing ever.

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1 Answer


Here is a similar previous question with answer FYI -

If he failed to get the necessary building permit, unless your agreement with him said that was your responsibility, then he should get the required permit (and pay any penalties). Unfortunately, and this is where an Architect or Engineering firm working for you typically saves your bacon, is Planning and Zoning Approval - which generally is NOT the same department as building permits. This is what determines the legal ability to build your project at your specific location, and required setbacks from property lines and street and such.

I would check, as owner, with the code enforcement inspector and find out if the problem is the permint never being issued, or a specific violation and if the violation is fixable without taking it down. Make clear you are innocent in this, asked the builder about city requirements and thought he was getting all the necessary permits. Usually they are not too nasty in that situation, and sometimes will call the builder and put pressure on him. When I worked code enforcement (as a contracted city engineer) I used to have the business license department and the permit desk put pressure on by threatening to cancel his business license and not issue any new permits to him in cases like this. Worked wonders - but in that jurisdiction it was very clear that the prime or general contractor was responsible for getting or ensuring all the building permits were obtained.

For instance, a structural or construction problem should be fixable by the contractor. Being too close to the lines fixable only by moving it over or by getting a Planning and Zoning waiver, which is generally tougher to do after the fact and especially if an adjacent neighbor objects and commonly takes several months.

If fixable by just getting the permit, the inspection, and paying any penalties - your choice on doing that and making it go away (penalty commonly 1-3 times the permit fee which you also have to pay) or on trying to get the contractor to do it.

Other choice - more hassle possibly - going after the contractor's Bond or Insurance company for the cost of making it right. Either might cover here if built too close to the lines, because construction (covered by the Bond) was deficient in that it was located wrong. But Liability Insurance might cover it too because his work caused damage to your property (exposing you to an enforcement action).

Push come to shove - contacting a lawyer (in her condition likely you have a probate/estate type lawyer already on board who might be able to assist or direct you to an economical colleague) to write a letter to the contract (typically $150-200) to put the fear of lawsuit into him and get him on the ball fixing the problem.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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