The plague of illegal construction is widespread across various states, cities and counties in the United States. Many buildings violate the codes set by the Department of Building (DOB) or the Fire Department. Some carry out construction work which is not approved by the designated authorities. Whatever may be the reason, the number of illegal constructions is by far many and too common. Sometimes the building owner is not even aware of the violations. This could have a drastic effect and attract fines from DOB and other agencies. Worse, you even get a demolition notice for not complying with the rules of construction. The best way to mitigate illegal construction is to make it legal. We can help you to file permits and review your construction to ensure it meets all codes and regulations. If any additional construction work is necessary, we will help you plan and implement it.
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The plague of illegal construction is widespread across various states, cities and counties in the United States. Many buildings violate the codes set by the Department of Building (DOB) or the Fire Department. Some carry out construction work which is not approved by the designated authorities. Whatever may be the reason, the number of illegal constructions is by far many and too common.
Sometimes the building owner is not even aware of the violations. This could have a drastic effect and attract fines from DOB and other agencies. Worse, you even get a demolition notice for not complying with the rules of construction.
The problem of illegal buildings is more common than you think. For instance, 40% buildings in Manhattan are illegal and almost the whole of Georgetown neighborhood in DC is also illegal. In some place, matters are more extreme- in Somerville, all buildings except 22 are unlawful.
The best way to mitigate illegal construction is to make it legal. We can help you to file permits and review your construction to ensure it meets all codes and regulations. If any additional construction work is necessary, we will help you plan and implement it.
The consequences of illegal construction can be quiet serious. In New York City, you will have to pay a fine of $5,000 if you are found to have illegal construction in your property. The fines can increase every month and can reach $7,500 to $10,000. You may also be called for a court appearance!
Illegal buildings and construction create a wide range of problems for the occupants and owners. The structures are not considered safe and can make disasters like fires more serious, resulting in loss of lives.
Whatever makes your building or home illegal, it is necessary to address them and seek approval from the designated authorities.
To make an illegal construction legal, you will need the help of a contractor or engineer who can assess the situation and apply for approvals. They may also need to review the plans, carry out inspections and handle other responsibilities for the approval process. Sometimes, you may also need to carry out some construction to make your building comply with the regulations.
Nearby Engineers New York Engineers is a leading consultation and legalization agency helping you get approvals for your illegal construction. We have a team of experienced personnel who have successfully legalized countless buildings across the United States.
If you think your building doesn't comply with rules and codes, we can help you address the matter and create a compliant structure. It is advisable to act on the earliest to avoid the negative consequences and fines.
A building or construction can be called illegal for various reasons. Any construction has to meet a number of regulations and follow laws formulated by various agencies like the DOB. Some illegal constructions have been built for years and only come into notice during a sale or when a building inspector flags them down. Whatever may be the reason, it is of utmost importance for the owner to legalize the construction.
Here are a few common scenarios which can make a building or construction illegal :
Not Having the Required Permits
Homeowners in different towns, counties and municipalities have to obtain building permits before carrying out any construction or renovation work. The permits ensure that your construction meets the building codes satisfying the structural standards and minimum safety. You may need several permits for a construction work including permits for building, plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.
Your building can become illegal if you undertake any construction or work without getting the required permit or permits. Some homeowners hire cheap contractors who don't apply for permits for your construction. Sometimes they apply for permits, but don't complete the process- making your building or construction illegal.
Some permits are also issued only to licensed and bonded contractors. For example, electrical, mechanical and plumbing permits are only issued to certified contractors. So if you hire unlicensed contractors, you are putting yourself in risks of illegal construction.
You will also require a permit for the use of certain equipment. For example, the Fire Department may pull you up if you don't have the required equipment use permit for operating the HVAC system.
Violating Applicable Codes or Regulations
Getting permits for your project doesn't necessarily mean that your building or construction will be legal. The duty of applying the codes to the construction ultimately rests on the contractor or architects undertaking the project.
Permits are issued based on the original plan where your designer might have made room for the codes. But they have to be implemented during construction; otherwise, you will be dealing with an illegal building.
For instance, we discovered a strong violation while inspecting a property on behalf of a client. The moment we entered the building, we noticed a strong smell of gas. We soon discovered that the earlier contractor had tapped the flipper illegally into the gas meter, causing it to leak. It was a disaster waiting to happen, which could have been avoided if the contractor stuck to the codes.
Your construction needs to meet a range of codes applicable to building, energy, plumbing and mechanical systems. If your construction fails to meet even a single code, your building can become illegal.
Illegal Conversion and Construction
Your building can be deemed illegal if you undertake any work or conversion without prior approval from the department. An illegal conversion is any alteration or modification of a current property to establish an additional housing unit without the approval of the DOB.
Many homeowners in cities like New York go for illegal conversions due to a housing shortage. They may also undertake illegal conversions to rent out the space to other people looking for affordable housing.
Examples of illegal conversions include creating unapproved rooms called Single Room Occupancies (SROs). Bedrooms and living units located in cellars, attics or basements also qualify as illegal conversion. Another form of the violation includes splitting existing apartments or homes into multiple bedrooms or living spaces by erecting walls.
Illegal conversions violate building and fire codes and make room for potentially unsafe living conditions. They may also result in overcrowding and turn accidents like fire into fatal situations by preventing escape routes.
Illegal conversions come with a high penalty of $15,000 per violation in cities like New York. You may also be slapped with an Environmental Control Board (ECB) violation, with penalties up to $25,000 per violation.
Renovations and repair work without prior approval are also deemed illegal. Many homeowners try to save money by going for DIY repairs or renovation which violate the applicable codes.
For example, we found a potential violation in one of the homes we were inspecting on behalf of our client. We saw that the HVAC system did not have a county inspector approval sticker. Upon further investigation, we found that it has been installed by an acquaintance of the owner without following the required procedures.
We can help you legalize your construction or building to avoid fines and court hearings. Based on the nature of the violation, we use different techniques to get your construction approved by the DOB and other applicable institutions. Our team consists of adept engineers who go through the normal design process and help you get your permits. We also have our recommended contractors who ensure that all work is done according to applicable codes and regulations.
We are presenting a brief overview of our legalization process :
1. Design and Review
You will need a qualified engineer or architect to inspect and review your design for the illegal construction. Our team will conduct a careful inspection of the illegal part or work and decide whether you can file for a post-construction permit.
During the review, our engineers will focus on various aspects and ensure that your construction complies with the latest building and energy codes. We will also check whether your electrical, plumbing, mechanical and fire safety systems follow the codes if they are the reason for illegitimacy.
If our engineers find that your construction doesn't follow the codes, we will try to make the minimum possible changes to your property to make it compliant. Finally, we will finalize the plan and file it with the DOB for approval.
A foolproof inspection and design help us get permits quickly without difficulties.
2. Filing with DOB and Permits
The next step is to file for permits with the DOB and other applicable departments. We will take care of everything right from submitting the plans and following up with the departments as necessary.
The DOB will review the plans we submit and send it for additional review by the Department of Building Inspection. If necessary, the plan will also be evaluated by the Fire Department. For residential buildings with three or more dwelling units, a review by the Fire Department is mandatory.
After all the reviews have been carried out, you will get your building permit.
3. Inspection and Signing Off
Ideally, our work will enable you to sign off your project without any construction work. We will carry out another round of inspection to ensure your construction is in accordance with the plan reviewed by the applicable departments.
If everything turns out alright, you can sign off your project and rest your worries.
For instance, we undertook legalization for a property that didn't have a permit for an additional unit built on the backyard. Our engineers conducted an inspection of the addition and applied for a post-construction permit. The DOB issued the permit based on our inspection and the client avoided any cost of extra construction.
4. Additional Construction
Depending on your violation, you may need to carry out extra construction work to make it code compliant.
For example, a client wanted us to build a second story on an addition of his property built by the previous owner. While investigation we found that the addition didn't have the required permits and violated several codes. As a result, we had to dig down and rebuild the foundation to make the construction legal.
If your construction needs rework, we will make the best effort to keep it to a minimum to save your expenses.
5. Certificate of Final Completion
The last stage is the issuance of the certificate of final completion. The department will issue the certificate after the construction work is over and your project becomes code compliant. We will obtain the final department signoff and a new Certificate of Occupancy if it applies in your case.
We may also need to submit a Certificate of Correction to the Administrative Enforcement Unit to prove that all violations have been addressed.