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Small Cabin Forum / Properties / Avoid building permit?
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cizzi
Member
# Posted: 12 Oct 2008 18:17 - Edited by: cizzi
Reply 


Is there anyway I can build something decent like 15x20 or so without a building permit? I dont want a concrete foundation, just on 4 way blocks like this site suggests.. And I will use solar power for electricity.. any reply would be niec

unixfmike
Member
# Posted: 16 Nov 2008 12:25
Reply 


Hi Cizzi. Sure you could just build it and see how long you can keep it. The local municipality will determine if you can keep it and financially penalize you, or condemn it and require you to destroy the building. To protect your time, money, and happiness invested it would be wise for you to call your local tax assessor and your local building/planning department and find out what you can do legally.

My brother always lived in the 10x12 or 120 sq. ft. rule for small buildings. In July after calling the city planning department(Lancaster, CA, USA), he found out he could build up to 220 (roughly 12x18)sqr. feet with no permits with 110v power. 220v power would require the whole structure be permitted.

With a call to my county assessor (Hughes Co, OK, USA), I was told "If it's on your land you can build it any size, but your phone, commercial electricity, and gas lines must be inspected". Come to find out, solar systems, non-comercial wind generators known to them as "experimentals", and gasoline generators can be connected via a manual transfer switch without any inspections or permits.

Once again, it is my recomendation to you that you make a few phone calls to whoever assigns tax value to your property, the people who approve building permits, and a surveyor (to insure you build on land you own). Make sure what you build is on your property, and that no one can fine you for it or take it away.

--Mike W.

Alex T
# Posted: 20 Jan 2009 11:07
Reply 


I'm wondering if anyone has a list, even partial, of counties or municipalities where building permits are no issue. Is it common knowledge that in certain places, you can buy land without scrutiny from local officials and just live there?

Where are these places? Is there any reason why such a list is not more commonly available (it's not like there are many of us who like to high-tail it to the woods with some tools and build for ourselves).

I live in Pittsburgh PA, where I bought a house for $4000, which I'm rebuilding to my taste, on a diet of almost 100% salvage and woodland material. I want to own a bit of land where I can do this without the added hassle of official oversight -- I could actually care less about higher taxes or fees, bring em on -- I just don't want anyone telling me how I have to build.

Good hilly country, where I can find a stream and grow a lot of fruit -- even wastelands like old mountaintop-removal mines would be a welcome challenge to me. West Virginia, northern PA, Adirondacks -- but where exactly? Washington, eastern Oregon, BC?

?:)

superfly
# Posted: 20 Sep 2009 18:27
Reply 


I have heard that near Christmas Valley, Oregon, or perhaps Lake County Oregon this can be done. My desires exactly! Good luck.

lamar5292
Member
# Posted: 26 Sep 2009 01:27
Reply 


Check your local building codes for shed and outbuilding codes.

Generally as long as your cabin meets these codes and has no utility connections or sewer connections you can get around codes.

Its your neighbors that may cause problems.

Sewer can be handled with a composting toilet. water hauled in and a storage tank.

Good luck!

elkdiebymybow
Member
# Posted: 12 Jan 2010 00:10
Reply 


My permit was $5 with no inspections at all. I agree, better to ask and find out what they will allow you to do than roll the dice. I had to provide a plan- I sketched this myself and showed that the structure met all the minimum set backs. It was pretty easy.

flatwater
Member
# Posted: 12 Jan 2010 21:57
Reply 


Superfly , Do you know anything about Christmas Valley ? In 1963 I bought my first piece of land there at the grand old age of 15.I have been buying and trading land ever since. If ya like sand, high wind and jack rabbits, that's the place to be. Land should be pretty cheap there.

toyota_mdt_tech
Member
# Posted: 28 Feb 2010 19:03
Reply 


In my state, you have to keep it under a 120 sq feet, cant have a permanent foundation and must be called a storage shed/tool shed. Otherwise, you need a p ermit.

Anonymous
# Posted: 14 May 2010 02:06
Reply 


can you live in the storage shed/toolshed Finding land to bulid
is harder than finding water

Hick
Member
# Posted: 14 May 2010 23:41
Reply 


In Baker county Or, I was told if it is 200 square feet or less you don't need a permit. I'm playing dumb and putting a loft in our cabin. 12x16. Every area is different.

Rob_O
# Posted: 16 May 2010 23:52
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Here in KY, anything under 120 ft^2 is exempt as is a "farm dwelling"

Anonymous
# Posted: 17 May 2010 16:15
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we are buyin our cabin prop in central Colo...
I wont even get started tellin all the permit garb..apparently cant even camp on your own property without a permit.
but already wish we had bought elsewhere and not even broke ground yet on the cabin .. ...

Anonymous
# Posted: 17 May 2010 16:19
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ok,,, just a little more to get it off my chest...in Colorado
you cant build anything less than 600 sq ft,, must have permits, can not get any build permit without a well permit, septic permit, road cut permit, (witch we need NONE of that) and cant build without electric and plumbing permit.., (witch the services are not even available in the county) our prop Way out in county,,,,,Colorado has TO MANY rules!

larry
Member
# Posted: 17 May 2010 19:02 - Edited by: larry
Reply 


so what can the county do to you if you build without a permit? can they force you to tear it down or just fine you to bankruptcy? Colorado is still in the USA or was it sold to communist china?

Scott_T
# Posted: 18 May 2010 16:01
Reply 


The penalty is probably a fine of some amount depending on the infraction...anyone have first hand experience with what the consequences of building without permits might be?

Anonymous
# Posted: 18 May 2010 22:27
Reply 


no experience but By reading the county laws ,, in my case 10g + just for permits on a 2,000 recreational cabin,, no way could the penalty cost as much as trying to comply ....

Anonymous
# Posted: 18 May 2010 22:30
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correction to last post $2,000 cabin project,, not to be confused with a 2000 sq ft cabin , our cabin only gonna be 350 sq ft...

rayyy
# Posted: 23 Jan 2011 12:08
Reply 


you got that right.Neighbors can be your worst enimies.Especially if your trying to build in an unfriendly to users state.I have had to jump through so many hoops to get this far.

Anonymous
# Posted: 22 Mar 2011 20:37
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where i live in maine they fine you the cost of the permit and make you pay for the permit which is 35 bucks so basically you pay double if you dont get a permit first

CheckMark
# Posted: 11 Jul 2011 20:46
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I thought it was a common law that one could camp 6 months out of a year on their own land. It was often advertised in land sales.

Brad B
# Posted: 11 Jul 2011 21:41
Reply 


In Ohio, permit or not varies by county. Some rural counties don't require a building permit, but do have rules about septic setup.

smitty
Member
# Posted: 11 Jul 2011 22:20
Reply 


Quoting: CheckMark
I thought it was a common law that one could camp 6 months out of a year on their own land.


That is what I always thought too..
And who is keeping track of how long you have been out there camping. Especially if it's off the beaten path..

spee
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2011 09:27
Reply 


you americans get off easy with most states not requiring permits and the others having cheap fees for permits ... in ontario Canada most areas have a 900 sqft MIN....10 000 Dev fee... 500 building fee. 300 septic fee and the list goes on ......

Better to just get a trailer here and call it a day !

CabinBuilder
Admin
# Posted: 12 Jul 2011 10:24 - Edited by: CabinBuilder
Reply 


Quoting: spee
Better to just get a trailer here and call it a day !

Thought about it too, when we bought our land. However, a cabin in the woods... it's a different feeling.

jvgo
Member
# Posted: 12 Jul 2011 17:21
Reply 


Alex T,

In Pennsylvania certain structures that are used solely by an individual or family for seasonal recreational use, such as hunting / fishing camps, may be excluded under Pennsylvania law from certain construction requirements of the code. In order to be excluded from these construction requirements, a sworn Affidavit must be filed with the Building Code Official indicating the structure will be used solely as a "recreational cabin". When filing a Recreational Cabin Affidavit, all other regulatory requirements must be met, including zoning and sewage permit requirements.

Structures served only by a privy (outhouse), composting or an incinerating toilet can not met the plumbing requirements of the Building Code, and therefore, by default, must be declared as a Recreational Cabin.

Under state law, a "Recreational Cabin" is defined as a structure that is:

Utilized principally for recreational activity ONLY

NOT utilized as a residence for any period of time

NOT utilized for any commercial purposes, including rental units

NOT greater than two stories in height

NOT utilized by the owner, or any other person, as a place of employment

NOT a mailing address for bill or other correspondence

NOT listed as an individual's place of residence o a drivers license, tax record, car registration, passport, or voter registration.

Approval of this Exclusion is contingent upon the installation of at least one smoke detector, one fire extinguisher and one carbon monoxide detector in BOTH the kitchen and sleeping quarters of the cabin. AN INSPECTION OF THIS INSTALLATION IS REQUIRED PRIOR TO OCCUPANCY OF THE CABIN

It is very important to note that once a dwelling is declared as a Recreational Cabin, the limitations described above will follow the building to subsequent owners of the property. The Affidavit is recorded at the County Courthouse. Owners should be aware that claiming a structure as a recreational cabin may lessen the value of the building for resale purposes.

If a recreational cabin is subject to to the exclusion, upon transfer of ownership of the recreational cabin, written notice must be provided in the sales agreement and the deed that the recreational cabin:

(i) is exempt from the Uniform Construction Code;
(ii) may not be in conformance with the Uniform Construction Code; and
(iii) is not subject to municipal regulation.

You can download the form at:

http://www.paconstructioncodesacademy.org/pdfs/Rec_Cabin_Exclusion_Form.pdf

jvgo

Anonymous
# Posted: 12 Jul 2011 20:44
Reply 


The cost of the building permit is just the beginning of your expenses. If you can't afford one than how will you be able to afford everything else you need? We camped on our land for 25 years before we could afford to build. We scrimped and saved and took jobs we didn't like. It was hard but we did it.

TomChum
Member
# Posted: 14 Jul 2011 00:55
Reply 


Does anyone have any firsthand experience with the building dept..... getting in trouble building a small cabin with no permit?

- What size cabin?
- Can the county inspector 'see' your cabin from the road?
- Are you off-grid?
- Neighbor complaint?
- What happened?

smitty
Member
# Posted: 14 Jul 2011 07:51 - Edited by: smitty
Reply 


I have never had a building permit, for anything I have done at my home in town.. And I have done some serious damage and construction to remodel this place. It's a 100 yr old house, and it is basically unrecognizable from what it used to be inside and out.
Never once had a permit, and have never been in trouble. I am right in the middle of town too..
Our property is so far out in the sticks and off the grid, that I'm not even going to bother the code officer with it.. He wouldn't be able to get his car out there anyway. It's 4wd access..

I've checked into permits, and got the info I needed. But just decided not to worry about it.

Anonymous
# Posted: 14 Jul 2011 18:35
Reply 


I just can't understand why some people on this site break so many laws/rules? I don't want to live in a area where one can build without a permit. I don't want to look at a bunch of poorly constructed "cabins" built with stuff from the dump. Or trailers,junk cars on blocks etc.... This all effects my property value.

TomChum
Member
# Posted: 14 Jul 2011 18:49 - Edited by: TomChum
Reply 


Hey Anon, I agree with you at some level, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don't like seeing old trailers and cars on blocks (like my dad's yard). But I'm not sure which I like less, shacks, or strip malls.

Strip malls are controlled by permits and I wouldn't build a cabin anywhere near one. I'd build a cabin near a shack though, as long as it's good people in the shack.

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