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What To Do If A Structure Is Not Permitted (But Built)

In today’s rapidly developing world, new structures and buildings are at the helm of the developments that we see every day.

These buildings, before being completed and ready for a commission or use, require what we refer to as a permit. A permit in its simplest form is a form of legal documentation that gives an individual the right to legally build a structure and own it upon completion.

So the question that comes to mind is: Can a Council make you pull down a structure?

Councils can make you pull down a structure if it has been illegally and wrongfully constructed. You will usually be issued a fine and given an order to have the building rectified within a stipulated period, failure to do this will have the structure pulled down.

In the remaining part of this article, we’ll provide you with helpful information about building permits and how you can meet council regulations to ensure that your structure remains standing. Let’s begin!

What Happens If You Build Without Council Approval?

A lot of structures are built without the owners getting the correct legal permit and the inspections that come with it. While this is wrong, the actual reasons why people bypass obtaining a permit before building a structure is not exactly known. Sometimes, they do so because they are trying to avoid the expenses that come with securing the permit or for tax-related purposes.

As stated in the earlier part of this article, getting a permit for your building is important in determining whether or not your structure is approved for habitation.

Well, it is almost the same as getting a council’s approval when building.

Getting a local council to approve your construction for occupation might look like a long, tedious, and stressful task that isn’t worth all the trouble, but in truth, there are lots of huge risks or punishments that you might face if you go on to build your structure without the right legal approval from the council.

If a local council within the area of where you are building becomes aware (through a neighbor, or Principal Certifier Authority – PCA), of the fact that you have not acquired the council’s approval before going ahead to construct your building outside the necessary approvals, and requirements, the council will most likely serve you a notice stating their intent, or they may serve you an order for the demolition of the building which will be tagged as an unauthorized building.

There are severe consequences that come with you not applying for the proper permit and having your work not inspected. The consequences could be as severe as taking down the building. However, should you find yourself in a situation where you have completed a structure without getting a permit, here’s what you can do:

Apply For A Permit Immediately

 If you have completed your structure without a legal permit, what you can do is to get one immediately.

Chances are that the state or the city where you have built your structure might not have found out, so you can take the chance to quickly secure your permit.

Call For An Inspection

 You can also call for an inspection of the general part of the structure. If you contact an inspection office and they send down an inspection officer to inspect the work done, if the officers deem the structure fit, then you might not need to get a permit.  However, if the inspecting officer makes any form of remarks as to changing any part of the structure, ensure you carry it out.

Can A Council Make You Pull Down A Structure?

If your structure has been deemed to be illegal or wrongly constructed, the council has the right and authority under certain circumstances to have your structure demolished and returned to how it was originally constructed.

Usually, the Council will issue a fine to you, or an order to have the work rectified on your structure within a stipulated period, after which, failure to meet either of the conditions might result in the demolition of your structure.

When you receive a notice or notification from the council, you mustn’t ignore the order, instead, seek appropriate advice from your legal adviser on how the issue can be resolved.

During this period, you should also notify the council that you are seeking advice. Then, contact a building expert or professional who is well-informed about the building regulations, and local planning codes of the area. The building professional will also inform the council that the issue is being looked at.

If the building professionals are able to prove that the structure is in compliance with the building requirements of the state, or provide the council with steps to be taken on how to ensure the structure complies with the regulations, then the council might retract their demolition order.

Anything short of this, the order might stand, and the structure will be demolished.

How To Get A Permit After Work Is Done

Building permits are usually meant to be obtained before work starts.

However, one might not be able to acquire or obtain a permit due to several reasons. In a situation like this, you might need to acquire a permit after you are done with the work, and here are the ways that you can go about it:

1.    Contact Your Local Permit Office

The requirements to acquire a permit differ across cities, so ensure you contact your local permit office to ascertain if you can acquire a permit in your location after construction.

If you can apply for one even after finishing the structure, then the procedure is usually the same as when you are applying before the building begins. The main difference in both is the inspection process which may require opening up some walls to authenticate that they are built accordingly.

2.   Fill out an application form

The next step is to fill out some necessary questions and information.

It is not exactly different from the regular building permit. In the form, you will be asked simple questions like the square area of the land, building plan, type of structure, and fee of inspection. After filling this form, the officer will review it and send an inspector to inspect your site.

3. Pass Inspection

This process is a tricky one especially when you are trying to obtain a permit after construction.

If the building was done properly, you will be required to open up some part of the construction so the inspector can have a look. If there are any changes to be made, the inspector will let you know and you will be given time to complete those changes.

4.    Pay the Permit Cost

The permit cost will be dependent on the value of the overall project.

However, you might need to pay an extra amount in bringing the structure up to code. But if the structure has already been built to code, then you might only have to worry about the cost of the permit, and other little repairs or changes you need to make.

I hope this clears up anything you wanted to know about what to do if a structure is not permitted but already built.