REMODELS, REHABILITATIONS, MODERNIZATIONS & ADDITIONS FAQ
Illegal Unit Remedy
Drawing up or drafting plans for an "illegal unit". There is a tendency for many people to try and avoid the complications of obtaining a proper design review/ planning permit or building permit. The permit process is meant to safeguard life, health, property, public safety and welfare. Never discount the watchful eyes of neighbors who may not appreciate any form of construction in their enighborhood.
Building without a permit is illegal and has repercussions once the planning or building department discovers it. Heavy fines are levied and sometimes either a notice to demolish or remedy the unit can be issued, especially if it violates codes or planning requirements.
Do It Right The First Time
We suggest that permits should always be obtained and all proper procedures be followed on any project. Note that, if you have an illegal unit and have been notified to submit drawings/ plans, it is not as simple as it sounds. Just because it was built does not mean it meets code. Asking an architect to come in after the fact and draw up plans to submit to the planning department is probably too simplistic. Hoping that's the end of it, is not going to make it so.
You are better off getting an architect to review what was installed. They would need to research both zoning and local code ordinances and from that develop the scope of work to bring the unit into compliance. Getting an architect to give you a fee over the phone in cases like this without a site visit probably will not result in what you want to hear. It's like asking a mechanic to provide you a qoute over the phone for an oil change but discovering you have to replace your transmission.
In the best scenario, everything was built correctly and all was needed was a set of plans to document it, the building department to review it and issue a permit. Standard scenario; there might be some additional construction needed. Worse case would be a complete tear down. We suggest always using a contractor in good standing and is licensed. Not everyone knows the building codes, even if they make that claim.
Another way to think about it, is that by trying to avoid paying permit fees and design related fees, you get an illegal unit, resulting in the situation that has been presented above. It always costs more to fix a problem but it is always cheaper to get it done right the first time. That said, it's probably not a good idea to repeat the same mistake twice.