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Do You Need a Permit for Your Home Improvement?

Many people do not realize that various property improvements require permits from the local building department. For instance, in many municipalities it is required that various permits be obtained for the construction of a deck, sunroom, pool or shed. Obtaining these permits is a quick and easy task and can be done at your local zoning, construction and building department.

In addition, if you are contemplating replacing or constructing a new a shed, deck or sunroom, you should visit your local zoning department. This is crucial and necessary in order to ensure that your new structure will not violate any zoning requirements. There are established front, side and rear setbacks for each property. Setbacks are like borders around each property that are considered "no build" zones. These setbacks permit appropriate space between structures and maintain a neighborly distance between houses and other accessory structures. Setbacks also allow for proper air and light flow between structures.

If you are constructing a new shed or deck, you should bring your survey to the zoning department and ask the zoning officer to determine if your structure is properly placed out of the setback areas. Once you have obtained this information, you can proceed to the construction department to obtain the necessary permits, such as electrical, plumbing, etc. Remember, once these construction permits are obtained, you should display them prominently in your window so people will be put on notice that the proper permits have been obtained.

Also, even if you are replacing an existing shed, deck or pool, you should have your building plans and survey reviewed by the zoning and construction departments. There are those occasions when the original structure many have inadvertently been constructed in the setbacks. There is no better time to fix a violation of the setback, then when you are removing the old structure and replacing it with a new structure.

Unfortunately, some residents may find out that when they bought their home the existing deck or shed was built in the setbacks. It is important to remember when you purchase a new home to ask the Sellers to verify that all structures are out of the setback areas and that proper construction permits were obtained. Having those permits ensures that the structures are safe and properly located.

You must be aware that if you attempt to circumvent the permitting process, the results can be costly and time consuming. If the township is aware of a violation and a construction or zoning official visits your property and notes the violation, you may be served a summons of violation. That summons of violation requires a mandatory appearance in municipal court and can result in penalties and daily fines.

A continuation of this topic will explain the process for remedying a summons of violation from a structure built in a setback. We will review the process to legalize your structure and how to proceed through the municipal court to resolve your summons.