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Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Posted by hometrouble (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 21, 09 at 18:33

We bought our home in Dec of 2006. The home has 2 three car garages and we deciced that we wanted to tear one down and rebuild it. We called the zoning office and to our suprise the 2nd garage was built without a permit. We have tried to rectify this and zoning board had denied our request. They now want us to tear the garage down to be in compliance. WHAT CAN I DO? Does the title insurace hold any responsibilty? Or how about the realistate company? I was told my only option was to take the seller to civil court. Please help.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Do you have an attorney? Looks like you may need one to sue the town for a variance (why did they deny a new permit?) and to possibly go after the old homeowners for some sort of settlement, although if they did not build the garage I'm not sure what you could get.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

I don't have an attorny yet. They denied the permit because they could not find a need to issue the variance. The old owner did build and garage and stated in the closing in a written note that he did pull a permit. He is also the one the paid for the application fee for the new permit.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

The first thing you need to do is stop talking to the old homeowner & get an attorney;
the reason the guy paid for the new permit is that he knows he lied.

In Texas, you could sue the seller for misrepresentation & maybe deceptive trade, but it won't do you any good unless he has assets.

Meanwhile, the attorney also can get the city to slow down.

They didn't stop the seller from building the garage, they didn't make *him* tear it down, they wouldn't have known about it had you not decided to tear it down & build a new (better) one.

You *must* get legal counsel that represents *you*, & pronto.

I wish you the best.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Building permits have been know to be misfiled or otherwise lost. I would check to see if the second garage is "known" to the taxing authorities. Check your assessment data. If they are taxing it, that means they know about, and you may have some leverage.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Do you have title insurance?


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"Do you have title insurance?"

I do not think there is a question about who owns the garage, just how it was constructed.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

The home has 2 three car garages and we deciced that we wanted to tear one down and rebuild it.

They now want us to tear the garage down to be in compliance.

What exactly is the issue? You already wanted to tear down the garage. They want you to tear it down. What's the problem?


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

I think the issue is that they can't get the town to give the variance to rebuild it.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"
The home has 2 three car garages and we deciced that we wanted to tear one down and rebuild it.
They now want us to tear the garage down to be in compliance.

What exactly is the issue? You already wanted to tear down the garage. They want you to tear it down. What's the problem?
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Because they want to build a new one in its place.

Rusty


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Step 1 would probably be to find out why the permit was denied. Is the structure too close to the property line? Do the combined structures cover too large a percentage of the land? Is there an actual ordinance limiting the number of buildings on a residential lot? You need to know exactly what it is about the structure that they object to. Once you know that, you may be able to come up with a compromise that addresses their concerns, but still gets you a garage. If there is no real ordinance that the board is enforcing and they are just being vindictive because the prior owners failed to get a permit, you'll need to sue them to force them to comply with the law. If you really are violating a specific ordinance, suing them probably won't get you anywhere. As long as the zoning board is just enforcing the law, they get quite a bit of latitude. You really need to consult an attorney with knowledge of your local laws and common practices to see what your options might be.

As for suing the prior owners, you'll need to consult an attorney with experience in your state/city. You might be able to recover money from them, but that won't get you any closer to a garage. If you think you are going to end up suing the prior owners, definitely do not talk to them again.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Whoops! I see the OP says they do have title insurance. Am I wrong to think title insurance investigation should have turned up the non-conforming (illegal?) garage?


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"Whoops! I see the OP says they do have title insurance. Am I wrong to think title insurance investigation should have turned up the non-conforming (illegal?) garage?"

Not generally.
It is not necessarily a boundary issue that a title search would care about.

They are looking to see if the chain of ownership of the land has any issues that could cloud the title.
They own the garage and its presence on their property does not appear in dispute.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Did you have an attorney handle your purchase? If so, he or she should have noticed that the CO did not match the survey, and asked not just for the permit, but the final approval.As they did not...they dropped the ball..and you should contact the attorney to help you get this resolved at no additonal cost to you, and compensate you if the garage can't be rebuilt.

If you did not have an attorney, who was responsible for making certain that all the paperwork was in order?

If it was the REA..then they dropped the ball. If the zoning board will not apporve a second garage, you esentially did not get what you bought, and IMO the REA should be held responsible for financial compensation.

If you handled this on your own, you must know by now that you do need an attorney. Get one.

bill has provided excellent advice. I hope you are able to resolve this in your favor.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"If so, he or she should have noticed that the CO did not match the survey..."

COs are often not issued for non-living outbuildings, and ion many places are not ever issued or reviewed after the initial sale that may have happened many many years ago (think hundreds in some places).

Most of Virginia is pretty lax about COs.
Once one has been issued it is good forever unless revoked for cause.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Mbrickeyee: "Most of Virginia is pretty lax about COs."

Which, as we see from the above issue, is asinine.

The original CO generally shows all originally built structures in most places, as garages must also comply with building code for safety purposes.

That is WHY the OP has a problem to begin with.....the garage was built without the required permit.

It's not rocket science. The survey would show TWO garages. If what you say is correct, the CO would only show the house.

As the building of a garage requires approval, and attorney with half a brain would require the owner to provide the permits for the additions to the property in order to make sure prove they were lawfully constructed.

It's that simple.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"Which, as we see from the above issue, is asinine. "

We actually like it that way.

There is no reason to invite the government into houses over and over.

There are a bunch of other ways that a building without permits would be caught.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

This thread is a good reminder to me to take care of some unfinished business.
I recently had a garage built -- with a permit. I had a friend as a contractor (I know -- really stupid). But anyway, he had the rough in inspection. But has not arranged for the final inspection. I stupidly paid for the garage at the time of completion (thinking that it had been inspected) Anyway, the guy is always very agreeable and says "he'll get the inspection arrange tomorrow" -- but of course, now it's been weeks and weeks. The electrical work has received the final OK -- (because in this case, I did not stupidly pay the bill until it was inspected)

When I call the city, they tell me that I cannot schedule a final inspection -- only the contractor can do this. Does anyone know if there is a way for me just get the city out and get this done. Thanks
Sussan


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

brickeyee: "We actually like it that way."

Who is the we? Certainly not the OP, or anyone else who has to deal with someone else's mess.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Have you gotten an attorney? I think talking to the previous owner cannot help you now, because the ownership was transferred to you and whatever unfinished business left by the previous owner will also be pass on to you so you better get a high caliber lawyer to help you solve this problem. Good luck!


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"Who is the we? Certainly not the OP, or anyone else who has to deal with someone else's mess."

Probably about the whole state since there have been no calls to revoke COs at sale, or force re-inspections of houses with issued Cos.

The town never noticed a new garage being built?
The tax assessor never actually checked the property?

I bet all of them will say 'not our job.'

I have no idea of the OP location, but it sounds like a town that pays very little attention to what is going on.

In more rural areas no one cares, but in cities and more built up counties the AHJ keeps there eyes open when driving around and will check if a building permit is not properly displayed.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

brickeyee: "We actually like it that way."

"Who is the we? Certainly not the OP, or anyone else who has to deal with someone else's mess."

I lived in an historic town that did not require COs when houses were sold, and I certainly liked it that way.

From what I've heard, COs can be an enormous hassle, especially when the property in question is 100+ years old and very non-compliant with modern building codes.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"From what I've heard, COs can be an enormous hassle, especially when the property in question is 200+ years old and very non-compliant with modern building codes. "

Under most codes structures are only required to meet the code that was in effect when they were built, they are then grandfathered for subsequent code changes.

Occasionally a change is important enough that it will be enforced at sale, GFCI kitchen and bath receptacles is a common one, along with anti-siphon toilet fills.

I had a friend purchase a house built around 1810.
There was no code in the location at that time, the town and county did not even exist.
It was in an area that likes to 'review' COs at every sale and they tried to make a stink.
A few rounds with his attorney and the town decided they would 'allow it this time' but if he ever sold they would be back.

That place is actually built better than required even now, it just is not 2x lumber stick built but heavier framing.
The town want a PE to perform a complete structural analysis to justify the structure.

It has only been standing for 200+ years without any issues beyond needing plumbing and wiring.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

brickeyee-"There are a bunch of other ways that a building without permits would be caught."


Would you mind explaining a few of the other ways?


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

In my town, the assessor's office has gone down each street and taken digital pictures of the front of each house. If you go to the assessor's website, you can see them. That is one way building without permits could be caught - comparing the old photos with new ones that show changes. Neighbors making a complaint (about the building noise, or the new garage wall that blocks their view of something, or the fact that there is no orange permit on the structure...) is another way that building without a permit caould be caught.


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

"Would you mind explaining a few of the other ways? "

Actually driving around and looking, and watching as they drive t and from inspections for the building permits to be posted as required.

The first step is often a letter saying "construction has been observed at xxx maple st. with no evidence of a building permit posted as required by law. Please contact the inspection department to avoid further action."


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RE: Bought a home and they did not get a permit for the garage!

Most of the country is moving to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for tax mapping purposes, usually in conjunction with satellite photo overlays.

There is software readily available that can examine the photos and discern between roads, structures, and vegetation or dirt. An automated process could easily flag properties with more structures on them than on the tax rolls.

I don't know that this is being done yet, but I wouldn't bet against it. If it doesn't exist at the moment, it is a sure bet that someone is working on it.

In the past, some assessors' offices used to commission aerial photographs to look for property that wasn't on the tax rolls. That used to require a labor intensive manual search to get results. Not any more. It is going to be increasingly difficult to build anything without a permit and get away with it.


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