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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:37 pm 
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Rod,

Thanks for contributing to this thread. I quoted you in it, but it's even better if you can speak for yourself (and we all know that you can, quite well!). :)

InTheBasement,

I too ran into the "light everywhere" requirement under the realm of "light and ventilation," but I was able to legitimately avoid a window in my room by spec'ing mechanical ventilation, lots of permanent lighting, an battery-backup emergency light (which may or may not have been needed, I just wanted it), and agreeing that the occupancy certificate will clarify that the room will not be used as sleeping quarters.

Politely press your local building department until you get the point across that this is something you know can be done somehow and that you're willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen and be legitimate. If you convey that, then there's a good chance you'll have an ally on the other side of the permit counter who will work with you to find solutions that will fit.

If you truly are in an area that is "anti-studio," then to be honest, you're foolish to proceed with building it anyway -- because it may only be a matter of time before you're reported to the anti-studio gestappo by a neighbor who doesn't like what you're doing... Then you'll be faced with the consequences -- hefty fines, cease-and-desist notices, and possibly an order to demolish what you've done. You won't even have the worthless luxury of claiming ignorance.

In some cases, what we want to do is impossible (e.g., converting an entire garage into a studio when the planning department prohibits garage conversions of any kind). If that's the case, then your only legal option is to move or (longshot) apply for a variance. That's just reality.

Sorry if that comes across harshly... But it's the dog-gone honest truth, and you (and everyone) deserve nothing less.

Kathy,

I'll spare you the lecture if you follow through and get your permit! ;-) Good luck...

--Keith :mrgreen:

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


Last edited by sharward on Thu Feb 16, 2006 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 10:08 am 
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building permit humor, but true:

The blur building is a cloud maker. It has 34000 jets that spray 3 micron water, creating a cloud of mist and fog and water. It's located over a lake. It's made out of steel (which also doesn't burn).

The punchline: The building department informed them that they had to redesign it. Because it was going to allow a 400 person audience, it qualified as a public venue, and required a sprinkler system.

(it was of course explained that there's nothing flamable, and it's already the biggest most dense sprinkler system on the planet)


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:40 pm 
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Obviously, a sprinkler system without a sprinkler system is unsafe; it says so on page 437, paragraph 689, section D... :?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 2:50 pm 
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Interesting bit of history about Walt Disney World and the building department they had to create in order to accomplish their goals...
    To accomplish the unfathomable task of transforming 28,000 acres of swamp into a shimmering city of dreams, Disney looked to the armed forces, in a manner of speaking. A retired army general and a retired navy admiral became two pillars of strength and ingenuity in the construction of Disney World.

    Gen. William E. (Joe) Potter (USA, ret.) spent much of his lifetime with the Corps of Engineers. He was accustomed to taking on big jobs and getting them done. . . Even before the enabling legislation had passed the Florida State Legislature, Walt Disney sent Potter to Orlando to set up operations. It would be his job to oversee a massive water control project, recontour many square miles of land, build roads and organize the Reedy Creek Improvement District. . . General Potter had to start from scratch in setting up a governmental organization where nothing existed before and there were no precedents. He told later about establishing the Reedy Creek Improvement District:

    "A law was passed by the Florida Legislature that set up the government as practically self-sufficient on the Disney property," Potter said. "In that way we were able to establish our own building department, develop our own building code, establish our own zoning, and do all those things that are normally done by a county.

    "You must realize that at that time Orange County did not have the facilities to examine plans for, let's say, a castle," Potter continued. "No complicated buildings had been built in Orange County so the county, of course, was not staffed to examine plans and conduct the inspections requiring all buildings to meet the safety and welfare specifications of those buildings.


    (Source)

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2006 10:53 pm 
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If I can jump in here...

First, I have a rather unique perpective from Code Enforcement, as I am the Chairman of the Midland Zoning Board of Adjustments as well as an independant private studio owner/operator...our mission is to ensure that building codes are enforced (duh) and unique to Texas, ZBA are listed as quasi-official entities with legal enforcement (that is, appeals to our decisions are made through a court of law, not the City Coucil)...

Most Codes, whether for business or residential, are in place for one primary reason: safety. Sometimes code can be a bit overkill, but we've all seen the horror stories of buildings collapsing, flash fires, etc...Building codes are based on research, not on theories, so when code states to have feature XYZ, there is science to back it up.

Many codes are established to protect the overall appearance/vibe/usage of a particular area...for example, one would not put a heavy machine shop in a residential district...I am fortunate that my area is zoned as O1 (single office space) but the area is so old there are still a few residential uses...our studio operates in the same plat as our home, but the two are separated by about 50 feet....and we have the last residence in 2 blocks in any direction, so there are no real neighbor issues.

{Sidebar: even though there are other "home based" studios in this area that are really commercial ventures disguised as something other than what they are, the Code Enforcement office usually does NOT pursue them unless there are complaints...the biggest complaints area based on two things: noise and parking...)

{Sidebar#2: Although there have been ample opportunities to shut down the home based competition, I don't...unless someone else files a complaint, which they haven't...and if a zoning violation case ever came before the Board, I would recuse myself for conflict of interests...just setting the record straight}

In short, codes can be a hassle, but its a hassle that at some point could save your life, your buildings/equipment, your business, even your entire neighborhood. Ever seen flash fires in cities that code enforcement is often overlooked or ignored? Or cities with a garage right next to a church? Disaster looms, be it inconvenience, safety, or protecting the investments of home owners...Although its a hassle, its a worthwhile hassle with a purpose, not just a bunch of beaurocrats inventing ways to make life miserable for the small business owner...

For the record, I posted this as a private citizen offering a bit of information, and NOT as a member of the Zoning Board...hopefully this will help clear up some misconceptions.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:28 am 
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If I might add just a few comments here.

I went and checked out the facility online - and found that although this mist exists outside of the building - there are a number of spaces within the building itself that are open and accessible to the public. These spaces do NOT have the mist system in operation.

Those spaces - by virtue of their use - require sprinkler systems, understand - sprinkler systems have not to do as much with building structure (i.e.: conbustible or non-combustible) as they have to do with contents and finishes.........

For example - there are area within there that could contain flamable products - and those products could very well catch fire.

In the even that there was a fire - the misting system would HAVE TO BE turned off.

I say this because you now have a case where the areas containing the mist have just become the means of egress from a fire zone to safety.......... you cannot see well enough in the mist to heard people (in an alarm condition where they might well panic) through the means of egress back to safety.

The second you shut off the mist system (so people can see where they are going) you just effectively shut off the "sprinkler system" you referred to in your post.

Seeing as the mist system can only mist - you now require a sprinkler system to provide the life safety factor you thought you had with this mist system.

The codes didn't require anything that was "too much" - or "out of the ordinary" - but rather allowed for the installation of something unusual in the way of entertainment while maintaing the life safety systems already proscribed by the codes.

It makes perfect sense to me.........

Sincerely,

Rod

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:59 am 
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Wireline, thanks very much for contributing. Your perspective as both a code enforcer and a studio operator is a unique and valuable one.

Rod, thanks for your clarification about the Blur Building. Your post proves that there's always another side to every story. It brings to mind the infamous and often cited Liebeck v. McDonald's Corp. with little regard to the actual facts of the case. I admit to being one of those who thought the multimillion dollar judgement against McDonald's was outrageous, yet after learning the facts in the case, my opinion was completely turned around. Not that I want this thread take a turn down coffee spill lane -- just that facts have a way of affecting opinions... Sometimes anyway!

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


Last edited by sharward on Fri Aug 04, 2006 12:53 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 4:06 am 
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first of all, i have had 16 oz hot coffe spilled on my by a McDonald's drive thru employee. that stuff is freakin hot. my thighs were all red for a while. stupid idiot did not put the lid on tight. and yes i did want to sue them.

secondly, i did take the trouble to read through my insurance policy and it doesn't say anything about having to get all work done with a permit. it says i can't do anything illegal in the house, meaning illegal activity. running a meth lab perhaps.

just think, if it were true that the insurer could seize on something like this to not pay ... say somebody, moved an outlet from the inside of their garage and into the laundry room, or whatever :) without a permit ... and later that outlet was the source of a fire. the insurance company could refuse to pay?

i just put in a whole house fan in my hallway last weekend. if my work causes a fire, can my insurance company refuse to pay? because technically, that work required a permit.

if insurance companies could find excuses like this not to pay, they could find an excuse for every disaster. sorry, you overloaded that outlet. not paying. fell asleep smoking? sorry idiot, not paying. you crashed your car -- while speeding? sorry, not paying. whoa man, that lamp said 60 watts max bulb, and you put in a 75... hehe not paying. ok you get the idea.

if anyone has any stories about insurance not paying after someone did work without a permit, i'd like to hear it.

i mean, for pete's sake, even if i commit suicide, my life insurance still has to pay (provided i wait the required 2 years. yes, it has that written in there).


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 5:07 am 
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I admit to jumping the gun on my outlet move. Technically I should have incorporated that task in my overall plan, which would have been required, since it's not legal to have an outlet (especially a GFCI outlet that feeds other outlets around the house) not be accessible (between inner and outer leaf walls). I will probably get that officially signed off one of these days. I would like to do the same with the gas line that I had installed in the laundry room by a contractor two years ago when we bought the house -- he didn't get a permit and I didn't know it was necessary at the time.

As far examples of insurance companies refusing to pay claims resulting from defects in unpermitted construction -- I'm not finding any examples to cite. That doesn't mean there aren't any, but I just haven't found any in the few minutes I've searched. I know that I've read examples of the fears of such, but no hard examples yet. I'll keep looking. It's fair to be skeptical of that -- perhaps I should have been more so myself.

Although... If they won't pay for "illegal activity," then perhpas that is enough of an excuse for them not to pay for anything resulting from illegal improvements... :roll:

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 5:12 am 
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ohhhh, was i talking about YOU? :D ... i couldn't remember who that was :)

i forgot to mention, my insurance does explicitly say that if i intentionally burn the house down, that isn't covered :)


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PostPosted: Sun May 28, 2006 4:21 pm 
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This appeared in today's Sacramento Bee:
    Goodbye, garage
    Homeowners park their cars elsewhere and put the space to new uses
    By Gina Kim -- Bee Staff Writer
    Saturday, May 27, 2006
    Story appeared in California Life section, Page 18
It is an interesting article about several creative garage conversions.

The article featured a prominent sidebar:
    Before you convert a garage

    Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit, says Tom Oxley, city of Sacramento supervisor for residential plan review. This protects homeowners in case of a fire or accident, because homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit, he says.

    The design generally must include proper lighting and ventilation, updated flooring and an emergency escape, he says.

    The permit costs are based on a percentage of the increased valuation as well as a few other fees, he says. Building fees for an average 500-square-foot garage would run about $750.
Now, to be fair to Dan, this isn't actual proof that a homeowners' insurance policy would not honor a claim in such a circumstance -- it only proves that my city official has gone on the record saying that is the case. I suppose he could be lying or is misinformed.

Too bad this article didn't come out a year from now -- otherwise, I probably would have been featured in it! :twisted:

--Keith :mrgreen:

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 8:29 am 
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there was an article about garage conversions in my local paper about a year ago. it mentioned that of the applications for garage conversions that had been applied for, of which there were only a handful, half had been denied.


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 6:45 pm 
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For sure, if I had tried to do a full garage conversion, my city building department (actually the planning department) would have denied me too. Recall that I had to leave a 10 foot wide by 20 foot deep area unobstructed so that I can park at least one car inside. I will actuallly be able to easily fit two cars in, just as I am now.

Behind every "no" there's a "yes" -- meaning, "No, you can't do that, but you could do this instead").

Recall my doorway/steps/landing challenge and how I designed around it. 8)

--Keith :mrgreen:

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


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PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2006 6:55 pm 
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:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: Wow. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

See camistan's amazing story.

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: Wow. :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:

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"Converting a garage into living space requires a city permit . . . homeowners insurance won't cover a structure that's been changed without a building permit . . ." --Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2006


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:50 am 
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InTheBasement wrote:
These would be replaced, per code, by windows large enough to meet a 15% "light everywhere" requirement and an escape route. Estimates for this to be done are $10k which contributes nothing to the studio but takes away badly needed funds. If the windows were cut, they would need to be plugged negating everything anyway.


While I recognise this added cost, I belive if you did this you would also end up with more Sq.Ft. of home therefore increasing your overall home value. This is something I actualy intend to do in my house when I build in the studio...


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