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When does it stop being an addition and become a teardown?

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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I searched through previous threads, but couldn't find anything, so I ask this question:

How does your municipality make the distinction between an addition and effectively the full demolition of the structure?

Here's a scenario: Someone wishes to expand their house, but the house is on a nonconforming lot. If this lot was vacant it would not be buildable, but your muni wants to accommodate expansions of existing buildings on nonconforming lots. Ms. Houseowner proposes expansion plans that leave only the existing foundation and one exterior wall of the existing house. Would this still be an addition or a teardown/full demolition?

I ask because the section in our zoning code for the highest density single family district that allows nonconforming lots to be buildable has an absolute minimum lot size and width that is greater than a sizable number of currently developed lots (ie they have houses on them).

Currently, this section is worded vaguely and could be interpreted to prevent additions to existing houses on unbuildable nonconforming lots.

With an upcoming change to this section, I want to make it explicit that additions to existing houses on unbuildable nonconforming lots are permitted, but I also want to provide a clear distinction between "addition" and "full demolition".
 

fringe

Cyburbian
Messages
622
Points
16
It sounds to me like the question is how badly does the local body want to eliminate nonconforming use.

I think a reasonable view zoning-wise is to view the building's footprint. If the addition doesn't make space or setback encroachments worse, then the glove should fit.

In building code viewpoints if you remove most of the building's "value" or cost, then you are building new.
 

JimPlans

Cyburbian
Messages
409
Points
13
I'm not sure that you have a lot of control in this situation. In fact, the real question may be "when does this stop being a non-conforming use and start being a taking?"

Generally, codes I've seen allow almost anything to be done (within reason) as long as it isn't larger than the building that currently exists. So, if your non-conforming house burns to the ground, you have the right to rebuild a house up to the same size as the one you had before. Maybe you need a special permit, maybe not.

I guess the real question is how big the resulting building will be once it's complete. If it's larger, then the excess size can probably be prohibited. If not, Ms. Homeowner is just exercising her property rights. Of course, if there are other issues besides lot size (coastal zones, business uses, etc.) then the process becomes more complex.

This code example seems to be a nice compromise: One year to rebuild, nothing larger than what existed before, and after a certain date rebuilding is subject to a special permit. It lets people know that a change is coming (amortizing their investment) and allows the jurisdiction to control rebuilding in case some non-conforming uses would actually be nuisances.

http://www.qcode.us/codes/sacramento/view.php?topic=17-v-17_104-17_104_030
 
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paiste13

Cyburbian
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231
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9
We have odd rules when it comes to this situation. If the roof stay ups while walls are added/rebuilt and then the roof comes down and a new one is built over the new walls it is considered an addition. If the owner takes down the roof and the walls at the same time it is not considered a rebuild.

It take the contractors longer but if someone wants to improve their property and take the extra step so be it.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Thanks for the help so far. Keep it coming.
 

boilerplater

Cyburbian
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916
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21
It might be useful to look up flood insurance rules reagarding this kind of thing. For example, they prohibit rebuilding in a flood zone if a structure is damaged more than x%. At least it's kind of a precedent for what constitutes a "new" structure.
 

southsideamy

Cyburbian
Messages
451
Points
14
My fair village has a 50% assessed value requirement. If the addition is worth more than 50% of the assessed value of the home, it's a tear down. This is one of those politically sensible rules that is horrible for staff to implement. Whose assessed value do we use? The appraisers value? The County's value?

Not ideal, but there it is.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
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18,264
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43
My fair village has a 50% assessed value requirement. If the addition is worth more than 50% of the assessed value of the home, it's a tear down. This is one of those politically sensible rules that is horrible for staff to implement. Whose assessed value do we use? The appraisers value? The County's value?

Not ideal, but there it is.
That's how we do it here and in a former jurisdiction where I worked in California. Always a total cluster f@&$.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
Messages
24,576
Points
50
It might be useful to look up flood insurance rules reagarding this kind of thing. For example, they prohibit rebuilding in a flood zone if a structure is damaged more than x%. At least it's kind of a precedent for what constitutes a "new" structure.
In our flooplain management ordinance -
“Substantial improvement” means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 40 percent of the market value of the structure before the “start of construction” of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred “substantial damage” regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not include improvements of structures to correct existing violations of state or local health, sanitary, or safety code requirements or any alteration of a “historic structure”, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structures continued designation as a “historic structure”.

“Substantial damage” means damage which decreases the market value of a structure by fifty (50) percent or more
____________________________________________________________________

2. Structural alterations made to:

a. an existing building, that has not previously been altered, the cost of which equals or exceeds forty (40) percent of the value of the pre-altered building (excluding the value of the land);

b. any previously altered building;

3. Reconstruction or repairs made to a damaged building that are valued at more than forty (40) percent of the market value of the building (excluding the value of the land) before damages occurred;
 

johnny d

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
I searched through previous threads, but couldn't find anything, so I ask this question:

How does your municipality make the distinction between an addition and effectively the full demolition of the structure?

Here's a scenario: Someone wishes to expand their house, but the house is on a nonconforming lot. If this lot was vacant it would not be buildable, but your muni wants to accommodate expansions of existing buildings on nonconforming lots. Ms. Houseowner proposes expansion plans that leave only the existing foundation and one exterior wall of the existing house. Would this still be an addition or a teardown/full demolition?

I ask because the section in our zoning code for the highest density single family district that allows nonconforming lots to be buildable has an absolute minimum lot size and width that is greater than a sizable number of currently developed lots (ie they have houses on them).

Currently, this section is worded vaguely and could be interpreted to prevent additions to existing houses on unbuildable nonconforming lots.

With an upcoming change to this section, I want to make it explicit that additions to existing houses on unbuildable nonconforming lots are permitted, but I also want to provide a clear distinction between "addition" and "full demolition".
 

johnny d

Member
Messages
2
Points
0
I think its and interesting question but also kind of a moot point- the muni wants to encourage expansion to existing on NC lots. However your question points to the need to place some parameters on what is acceptable expansion in NC's. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am primarily a builder-designer of single family homes so having said that....I personally don't understand why the planning bodies take issue if someone wants to tear down whatever amount of their house be it less or more. If someone wants to make new- let em so long as the other commenter said,,,,they stay in the same footprint and density and so on. You have a proposed expansion so let the "expansion" be the issue of concern...is it acceptable (size, design/style intent, will it meet current codes, etc).
If they want to tear down this or that let them. charge for the extra review required and whatever else the department has to expend. I have a somewhat similar but kind of reverse situation I am currently facing. Client has an old 1912 bungalow style home and garage. The garage (16'x12') is old and tired and suffers from shoddy construction typical of the early century (ie. the wood siding is wood to grade, its out of square, lead paint etc). It also has its original setbacks of about 2-3 ft from rear and side property line. The garage is to the rear of the lot. no alley. I suggested a full tear down as the foundation has lots of cracks. I proposed the same early siding style which I found, same trim, exact same architecture, color and footprint and of course to current building codes (electrical-structural etc). To me its a repair- rehab-replacement....whatever you want to call it. In principal, she is not gaining real estate via sq footage, she is simply making taking a dilapitated garage and renewing it the same in principal if someone were to someone re-wax their car. Yet there is a good possibility that she will be required to adhere to modern setbacks and lose some of the play space for her kids that came with the house (I am referring to the space not the kids :). Why? What does the city or the community gain by a few feet of adjusted setbacks, especially considering the density (mass) of the structure remains the same. Responses welcomed!
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
1,594
Points
24
Ms. Houseowner proposes expansion plans that leave only the existing foundation and one exterior wall of the existing house. Would this still be an addition or a teardown/full demolition?
When our fraternity house burned down during my college years, we did pretty much that exact thing. Had we done a complete teardown the zoning would not have allowed the rebuild, but leaving basically the front porch, the walls abutting it, and the foundation underneath that section of the house let us grandfather the existing use.

"The hundred year old porch on the thirty year old house."

 

luckless pedestrian

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11,262
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35
I have always used the 30% rule - assessed value and/or size of addition

the addition has to meet setbacks and lot coverage
 
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