I somewhat recently became a homeowner and after we moved in our family got together and bought supplies and built us a back porch. It’s very nice and I am grateful for it was completely free to my wife and I. What has me somewhat worried is that I overheard one of the family members state that they didn’t get a permit to build because the restrictions on the materials wasn’t necessary. I have become worried that I have cheated the government or have an “illegal” back deck. I’m not sure what the best moral course of action should be. Should I call the county and inquire about a permit after the fact? Should I do nothing?
If I were you I’d open a cold drink and enjoy your porch.
I wouldn’t worry about it, but maybe get it checked out if you plan on hosting a big party to ensure that it’s safe.
The purpose of permits is to ensure the structure you built is safe and not encumbrance on your neighbors. Your not cheating the government. If you don’t know what you’re doing when building then you could be cheating yourself.
Construction that adds square footage to a house should always get a permit because the addition of square footage will change the county records which home sales prices are based upon thus affecting property tax.
Don’t worry about permit fees at this point.
Your statement about restrictions on materials might be a concern – if your family members are wrong in their assessment.
And if you sell your home in the future and there’s an addition for which you didn’t have a permit, you could have problems.
If the structure is solid and safe, and if you’re not planning to sell for a few decades, then I’d follow Hoosier Daddy’s advice and enjoy the present moment.
*And you can indeed contact your local county for those building permits any time you want. Maybe start by making an anonymous call from a phone that isn’t yours, and ask some questions.
You could potentially open a can of worms here so I would not call the county. You have done nothing wrong so just enjoy your porch.
You have not described your porch, but porches and decks are often basically the same. And not all jurisdictions require a permit to build a deck; it depends on size and the local rules.
I built a 10 x 20 deck off my kitchen; the opening to the deck is a 2 pane sliding door about 6 feet wide.
Attached to that to the left, and one step up was a another deck approximately 12 x 13; and to the right one step down was one that was about 8 x 12.
I remodeled the house when I was going to sell, and the city inspectors (there were two) came out to look at the remodel.
They had one issue with the plumbing in one bathroom (easily fixed) and complimented me on the remodel and the deck.
I never got that permitted when I first built it, nor when I tore it down to the stringers and built it back up.
You have not “cheated” the local government. They want to know if there are encroachments on any setbacks, and that it is properly constructed. There might possibly be a fee, but in the scope of things, it is very minor. It is not a moral issue; it is possibly (and not likely) a legal issue (code).
If it is going to stick in your craw, then have someone else ask the building department a theoretical question and find out what the rules are; I suspect that you will find it is pretty much a non-issue.
Not all appraisers are totally code savvy, but the house appraised (and presumably you had a full home inspection by a licensed contractor prior to closing, as part of your offer). If neither of them found anything flaring, odds are strongly it is fine.