Let’s talk about homes and businesses that currently have existing unpermitted work. If you’re like many people in the Long Beach area, you have a space or two that has undergone small building projects that developed organically in response to a need. Whether it was converting the garage into a granny flat, adding a patio cover, or adding a rollup door to a warehouse building, there are many projects completed every year that never travel through the proper submittal process.
As architects in Long Beach, we’ve seen pretty much everything when it comes to unpermitted projects. Some are structurally sound, and others… not so much. Some people choose to not go through the permitting process because they are anxious about having to deal with things like the building code, planning code, architects, and building inspectors. Others are afraid of the added cost and time, and still others have the mindset of: “I can just do that myself. I shouldn’t have to ask permission to do something in my own home or business.”
But what happens when you decide you now want to undertake a larger-scale project, and this time you want to get it permitted? Will your existing unpermitted work get you into trouble with the city?
In our practical experience you shouldn’t have to worry too much about “getting caught” when you undertake a new project that will bring building inspectors to your door. Many cities are already fully aware of what its citizens are up to and they realize that it is better to develop sensible building policy that takes these nuances into account than to go around red-tagging all offending properties.
For example, in one local city, the building department realized that many multi-generation families were living together on sites meant for single families. To accommodate this, many of the homeowners had built illegal dwelling units behind their detached garages. Instead of making these homeowners demolish the illegal units, the city had them sign a waiver that stated they understood that this dwelling was not permitted, accepted liability for the dangers associated with it, and that if it did become a problem, the owner would remedy it. In other circumstances, cities understand that the code has been enforced differently over the years, and they take that into account.
As Long Beach architects with many years of experience dealing with the cities in this area, we can help you navigate the world of code compliance. Existing unpermitted work doesn’t need to keep you from taking on a new project that will improve your space.
One service that we have been providing a lot lately is helping our clients determine what is legal, what isn’t, and finding ways to cost-effectively bring the illegal project into compliance. Sometimes, a client just wants to sleep better at night, knowing their space is safe because it was designed to meet the latest code requirements and has been inspected to confirm it was built to those standards. Other times, a client is thinking about selling in the future and doesn’t want to worry about the sale falling though because an inspection reveals unpermitted work.
An architect’s job is about so much more than producing a good design and a solid set of construction drawings. Our Long Beach architecture firm can navigate the (often subtle) distinction between code compliance and non-compliance on your behalf and get your project to the finish line.
Contact us today to get your project started!