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Thread: Told to get a variance AFTER having permit

  1. #1
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    Told to get a variance AFTER having permit

    What legal recourse can I take if the building inspector gave me a building permit and then said later, "oh, I made a mistake, you need a variance" after the construction has already started? We had to pay an additonal $400 and then go before the Township Board to state our case. The board asked us twice "why are you here if you have a permit?" We complied with what the building inspector told us so we wouldn't get in trouble. Now we have to wait 45 days for the board to decide if we can build. I have spent over $6,000 prepping the existing house with plumbing and electric for the new addition. I'm in a split level in PA. We had a garage that included a small basement. We enclosed the garage and knocked the wall down between the garage and basement to make a den. Now we want to build a garage next to the old garage with a bedroom and bathroom above. All plans submitted were approved prior to starting any work.

    What can I do if we can't build now? I'll be out over $6,000 and have no where to put everything that was in my garage - lawn mowers, snow blower, tools, etc. They are all in my backyard with a tarp covering them. I also have an antique car that must be garage kept for insurance reasons. That's at my friend's house waiting for the new garage.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Len351 View post
    What legal recourse can I take if the building inspector gave me a building permit and then said later, "oh, I made a mistake, you need a variance" after the construction has already started? We had to pay an additonal $400 and then go before the Township Board to state our case. The board asked us twice "why are you here if you have a permit?" We complied with what the building inspector told us so we wouldn't get in trouble. Now we have to wait 45 days for the board to decide if we can build. I have spent over $6,000 prepping the existing house with plumbing and electric for the new addition. I'm in a split level in PA. We had a garage that included a small basement. We enclosed the garage and knocked the wall down between the garage and basement to make a den. Now we want to build a garage next to the old garage with a bedroom and bathroom above. All plans submitted were approved prior to starting any work.

    What can I do if we can't build now? I'll be out over $6,000 and have no where to put everything that was in my garage - lawn mowers, snow blower, tools, etc. They are all in my backyard with a tarp covering them. I also have an antique car that must be garage kept for insurance reasons. That's at my friend's house waiting for the new garage.
    Get a lawyer.
    I'm hesitant to say anything besides that or give you misleading information, especially since I'm only familiar with PA planning/zoning on a state level.
    Best of luck.
    @GigCityPlanner

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Get a lawyer.
    I'm hesitant to say anything besides that or give you misleading information, especially since I'm only familiar with PA planning/zoning on a state level.
    Best of luck.
    Mee three. I bet some speed will happen when someone receives a letter with a lawyer's letterhead.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  4. #4
    Yes, lawyer time.

    But do know that in many states, the property owner is responsible for complying with permits and even if the local government issues one that is in error, the property owner will still be on the hook.

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    Yes, lawyer time.

    But do know that in many states, the property owner is responsible for complying with permits and even if the local government issues one that is in error, the property owner will still be on the hook.
    Correct on both. Even in a property-rights state like Texas, this is the case. These kinds of things can also be fought in the court of public opinion as well. One place I worked for issued a Certificate of Occupancy for a tattoo parlor to go in a location by mistake, in violation of the zoning restrictions. The City settled before a suit was even filed, choosing to cover the verified capital costs of improvements at the location and relocation expenses.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    I used to work for a housing authority, working with the building department of the city to coordinate the pulling of permits. They were always clear we were ultimately responsible, no matter what the inspector in the field or anyone at city hall said. This was in Massachusetts.

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