Pond built; No permit


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Well I hired a well known pond builder to build a 2400 gallon koi pond by converting a block planter box. This builder assured me that no building permit was required and I recall researching this and coming to the conclusion that no permit was required. Bottom line is that the pond was completed at a cost of approximately $35,000. It has been in operation for about a year. The pond has two drains which basically drain out onto my dirt yard, and I wanted to connect them up to drainage so that my yard does not get soggy every time I do a water change, so I called the county building inspector to inquire if I need a permit for this. The inspector said firstly that yes I do need a permit for connecting drainage, but that I also should have gotten a permit for the pond since it is over 18" tall. Now I am worried that a building inspector may require changes to my pond, or say the pond is not even usable after spending 35K. I think that it was true that most ponds to not require a permit, but the fact that my pond is over 18" tall is what makes it require a permit. What should I do?
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HARO

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It's always easier to ask for forgiveness than to get a permit beforehand. Apply for the drainage permit, and plead ignorance to all else!
John
 

sissy

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It looks fenced in and is in your back yard .I would go after the builder that is one big chunk of change for his big boo boo .I check myself here before building my pond in my front yard .To many builders just want the money and don't care .He should pay fines also if there are any .
 

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Wow that would be a horrible position to be in and hope they forgive you OJ. It's one thing w/ our ponds w/ a hole and a liner thrown in but yours is way permanent and would cost you a bundle to have it redone. The pond builder did a very nice job on the pond if that helps any :biggrinangelA:
 

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My natural inclination is to lay low and do nothing. If the inspector calls say "No spik Engrish", hang up and hope he has more important scofflaws to apprehend. That and buy some big "Beware of Dangerous Dog" signs and don't answer the door. I'm a Dr., you can trust me.
 
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Unfortunately I have another project to install some sliding glass doors right in front of the pond, where a permit is again in question. I have had multiple contractors tell me that a permit is not needed, while I have called twice and spoke to one of the senior inspectors who said that a permit is indeed required to install these doors. Further I have already purchased the doors, so looks like there will be an inspector out to the house in the near future.
 

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You need a permit to install doors? I thought that a permit is need only if there are structural changes or changes to electrical wiring, etc.
OK, here's my advice based on my experience. When calling the permit department, always use a foreign accent and give a fake address. Do you have any enemies, someone you don't like at work? Call using their address.


Orangele said:
Unfortunately I have another project to install some sliding glass doors right in front of the pond, where a permit is again in question. I have had multiple contractors tell me that a permit is not needed, while I have called twice and spoke to one of the senior inspectors who said that a permit is indeed required to install these doors. Further I have already purchased the doors, so looks like there will be an inspector out to the house in the near future.
 

sissy

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some states have lots of permits you need just so they can make money .Geeze here I did not even need a permit for my decks as long as they were less than 2 ft off the ground .Did not even need a permit for the shed as long as no electric is in it but I did insulate and drywall and put electric and running water but seems as long as they don't see it they don't care .Carport and front porch I needed permits
 
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Where I live you need a permit for everything except paint - everything no matter how small.

At this point I would lay low and hope they say nothing. If they don't know about it already don't bring it to there attention.
 
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Well, it should be obvious that you didn't realize you needed a permit or you'd have never asked about one for the drainage. Do you have any original paper work from your pond contractor? I too would not volunteer anything else, just move forward requesting permits for your other projects. If they come down on you, you can honestly tell them the contractor misled you.

Very nice pond BTW:)
 

sissy

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The contractor needs to licensed so let him handle it and if he doesn't ,threaten to turn him in as he could loose his license and actually I have no sympathy for him .He is doing all this illegally and should be stopped .It makes good contractors look bad .
 

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All jokes aside, I don't like over-meddling by the government. If it doesn't affect anyone else, why should the government be involved? If some guy lived on a large property and wanted to build a unsafe hut to live in, let him do it. If it falls down and kills him, then it's his own fault. Maybe he wants to live dangerously and he should be allowed to do it. To require permits for water features and sliding doors borders on the ridiculous.
 
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Well part of my concern is when/if I ever decide to sell house, then all of these unpermitted projects may hold up a sale and/or actually decrease value of property rather than increase it.
 
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JohnHuff

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Ya, that's the biggie. I can see the pond raising a red flag, but the sliding doors probably won't.
That also depends on how long you plan to keep your house. Maybe the laws will have changed in 20 years time and what's illegal now will be legal then! In 20 years, anything can happen, you can even run for mayor and change the laws.

Orangele said:
Well part of my concern is when/if I ever decide to sell house, then all of these unpermitted projects may hold up a sale and/or actually decrease value of property rather than increase it.
 

sissy

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That's why I say go after the builder ,losing value on your home is no fun and when you sell it could be a nightmare .Make builder make it right that is what you paid him for turn him in .Before he keeps doing it to other people
 
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My desire is to just bite the bullet and go ahead and roll the dice, and try to get everything permitted now. Granted it scares the crap out of me that the pond will be found to be totally unrepairable to meet code, or nearly as bad, will require major (expensive) repairs, but at least I will not be worried for years to come about being caught by the county, who will then go after me with a vengeance. If it can't meet code in its current state, who knows what would happen then?

From the photo you can see an existing retaining wall on which the (6) spills are mounted. That wall had to be undermined in sections, and then a new rebar-reinforced wall/footing poured which acts as the back wall for the pond and a support for the retaining wall above it. So if anything, the back wall structure has been reinforced. The front wall of the pond has a pretty huge footing. In other words, I think the structure is sound which is what I would think the county would be most concerned about. But what do I know.

Lastly, as some of you may know, in Vegas where the house is located, belongs to an HOA which is very intrusive. The architectural committee of the HOA actually asked to inspect the area and speak with the pond builder prior to giving approval to proceed.
 
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Sorry for your predicament.

Do you have architectural drawings for the project? If so will the architect sign off that the construction was done in accordance with those plans?

If not, I would not bring it up with your permitting agency.

I've been in your exact situation before. Without an architect or engineer signing off on the plans, and construction method in accordance with those plans, there is little chance that the permitting people will allow the structure to remain. You're basically asking the paper pushers at the permitting agency to "trust me everything was done correctly" inside those concrete walls. They almost certainly will not, without someone else assuming the liability (i.e. an architect/engineer).

The people at those agencies are usually very good at follow a pre-determined script. Step one, followed by step two, followed by step three. You're asking them to deviated from their usual procedural form (inspecting something after it is built). It almost certainly won't go well. And sometimes they can be vindictive. In their eyes you're a scofflaw, who is now asking for mercy. It almost certainly won't go well. They all make a living from people following the pre-determined procedural script by pulling and paying for permits. You are a threat to their livelihood, and consciously or not, will be viewed as such.

Sorry to be so downbeat, but the old adage; "it's better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission" in my experience does not apply here. And I'm speaking from direct experience.

Enjoy the pond for as long as you can ( no pond lasts forever anyway) and cross any legal/permitting issues in the future as necessary.

Best of luck

P.S. Every legal jurisdiction is different, your mileage may vary.
 

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