Imagine this. You have had a long hard day at work. You reach home, make yourself a fresh cup of coffee, head out to the deck and watch the sun go down. As the evening draws in, you feel all your fatigue and stress washing away. The tranquility of the surrounding fills you with calmness. Sounds appealing, doesn’t it?
This is precisely why people love having porches. What better way to put the stress behind you than being in the midst of nature?
But here’s the thing. Sometimes, these decks can be a problem too. Yes, the porch you had built for your relaxation can be the reason you land in a legal mess. Unfortunately, very few people know about porch violations.
If you want multi-unit porches, it’s time to learn more about porch violations in Chicago, how to evade them and what you do when handed a citation.
Common Porch Violations People Miss
A lot of people don’t understand why safety compliance with porch construction is mandatory. You would be surprised how many accidents occur due to violations of porch codes.
Hence, you are bound by law to seek a permit to repair or replace porch components covering an area of over 50 square feet in Chicago. Every state has its own rule regarding porch code. So make sure you check it out before starting the construction.
Let’s talk a bit about what can be wrong with your multi-unit porches.
- The porch has no protection against rot or decay, making it vulnerable. You might not have used approved materials to construct the patio.
- Your porch might lack adequate anchoring support, which is required for it to withstand strong winds and similar other conditions.
- Use of wrong wood members and bolt sizes can be a problem which is usually done for cost-cutting.
Importance Of Permit For Porch Construction
Once your porch is constructed, making the required repairs and adjustments for safety compliance will not only be costly but also inconvenient. Therefore, it’s advisable to refrain from violations beforehand. This can also save you from a lot of trouble from the law.
Keep in mind that you have to adhere to the locally adopted building standards to qualify for a building permit. Chicago has some strict guidelines for granting the permit. You have to submit the drawings of your plan and seek approval before the construction is commenced.
There’s a high chance that the local planning department will inspect the area to ensure that your deck has no maintenance or safety issues.
It might be tempting to skip the whole process and get started with the porch project at the earliest. But if someone reports your project, you will have a major problem at hand. Surely, you don’t want to land in a legal mess due to a deck.
Get The Permit Beforehand.
No, it’s not advisable to consult a lawyer after being charged with porch violations. You must make arrangements to get a permit before the first brick is laid for the construction.
Although it’s indeed possible to bring your porch up to code later, you will soon realize that this is too much of a hassle and something that could have been avoided.
Permits Are A Serious Business
The process for permits for decks isn’t just to make things problematic for you. In fact, it’s all done for your safety. An improperly installed porch can collapse, catch fire or have similar accidents. If you did not have a permit for the patio, you would be held legally responsible for the injuries and damages.
Permits are designed to ensure safety compliance. The risk of accidents would be minimized, and you wouldn’t have to worry about expensive legal and insurance fees either.
Prepare The Plans
To get a permit, you will need to draw up the plans for your project. It does not always have to be a detailed architectural plan. Initially, even simple drawings would suffice. If you want to increase your chances of getting a permit, go through the guidelines by Chicago state for the purpose.
Be Ready For Inspections
If you apply for the permit, an inspector can check your site to ensure everything is going as per the plan. The inspection can be before or after the building is complete depending on the locality.
Vital For Record-Keeping
If you build the deck according to all the rules and regulations, you will get the benefits with a proper paper trail. If you decide to sell your house in the future, you won’t face any difficulty.
Keep in mind that potential home buyers ask for proof of the quality of deck constructions. You won’t find yourself at a loss at the last minute if you do everything by the book.
What Happens If You Are Charged With Porch Violation?
So you failed to keep up with the City’s code and have been charged for violations. What will be the consequences?
- For one thing, your project can immediately be shut down. That’s right. You will find a huge orange Stop Work Order on the site alerting the workers that this project cannot be continued. Thus, you won’t be able to do anything until the matter is sorted.
- You will have to pay a hefty fine for porch violations. And this amount will be much higher than what you would have had to pay for the permit.
- You will ultimately have to go through the whole process that you had avoided. Hence, you will need a permit and this time with more problems and hassles.
- You will probably have to look for a new contractor who is appropriately licensed and understands the City’s codes.
- Your site will be frequently inspected to ensure everything is up to code. The inspectors can even ask you to take apart portions to see what they want.
- If your deck fails to match up to the current codes of Chicago, you will have to make expensive repairs or, in some cases, demolish everything before starting afresh.
What To Do When Handed A Citation?
Once you are cited with a building code violation, you have to take immediate measures. The time is running out fast, and if you don’t want to end up in an even bigger legal mess, you will need the services of an experienced administrative law attorney to put up your case with the City of Chicago.
Working with the attorney, you have to ensure that your property is brought up to code. At the same time, you have to start the required repairs and adjustments on the property without delay.
Do not wait for the administrative hearing to begin work. You can mitigate legal penalties by proving to the court that you have already started taking measures to rectify the problem. If you can’t fix everything immediately, at least begin the project to buy some time.
Let’s not forget that every case is different. The nature of porch violation can vary. But with the right administrative law attorney on your side, you can evade more problems. Usually, property owners are able to settle the citations via various approaches. But occasionally, the City might take your case to trial.
Needless to say, it would work better in your favor if you do everything properly and as per legal guidelines the first time around. The contractor you hire for your deck project has a significant role to play in this. A place like City Porches will ensure that your deck doesn’t land you in a legal mess.
Remember, you will find yourself facing monetary losses, not to mention legal charges if you fail to follow the process.