Profile picture for raopatwar

Reputed builder has taken deck permit but built Screened porch. How to fix the record retroactively?

I purchased our home from a reputable builder few years ago.  They are still building homes in our subdivision. This home  came with a screened porch instead of a deck (about 200 square feet). I had inspection before purchase. Just couple of weeks ago, some siding was added for about 3 feet height, after removing the thin pickets. No change to the structure of the porch itself. I thought of making more improvements to the porch and checked with county and found out the builder never got permit for the porch but only a deck. Contacted builder about this and Builder is saying since I added little bit siding, they will not contact county to update the county records. Will a letter from the builder  stating that they built the porch along with the home, help me get this fixed retroactively to home purchase date? 

Thanks.

  • November 01 2013 - US
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Answers (6)

Profile picture for raopatwar

Thank you Pasadenan for all the information. I am going to leave it as screened porch and first apply for a porch permit to get the record corrected retroactively. The porch came with 4x4 posts every 3 feet and the screens in-between and the roof rests above. The tall posts below floor are similar to a deck. Our floorplan, as published by builder, shows an optional porch in place of deck. If I want any improvements later, I'll then apply for the relevant permit at that time. I have a large lot, so hopefully there will be no issues with floor area ratio. Lesson learnt is, cannot trust even well reputed builders, when it comes to permits, even when buying a new home. Need to verify everything, even if we do an inspection before purchase.

  • November 05 2013
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
Just draw up what you "have" or what you plan on having when "finished", provide a cost estimate, and submit it as "owner builder".  Then get the required inspections and complete the work.  The fee you pay is usually based on your cost estimate, but minimum fees may also apply.

If you have an existing floor plan prepared by the builder showing it as a covered deck, provide that.  There is no building distinction between "deck" and "porch".  The structural issues are the same.  When screening it in, it needs to remain "open".

Again, check floor area ratio and lot coverage requirements.  I'm glad to hear that you don't have a setback issue.  I've seen many front porches that encroached on the front yard setback when someone tried to close them in.
  • November 03 2013
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Profile picture for raopatwar

Thank you very much Pasadenan for your response. I have checked with the county about setbacks and easements. No problem there. The reason I first contacted county was to get a permit  since I did not want to do any structural improvements without permit. I was shocked to find out that the builder had not taken a permit for the porch since it was necessary when it was built.  The porch is still completely open with a low knee wall, which is common in our area. The porch stands on 8 foot tall posts and has a nice roof that covers it entirely. My goal is to first get the record corrected that we have had  this porch instead of a deck. If I need to apply for a porch permit to get an inspection, not sure what to provide as "contractor information". Should it be  my name there or the builder who built this porch?

  • November 03 2013
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
It likely is a "floor area ratio" issue, or a "lot coverage" issue... check with the local building department regarding what you are allowed per the zoning, and check what you have to see if it complies.

As your builder properly pointed out, a "wall" is entirely different than a "porch railing".  Yes, a porch or deck railing or stairway railing often requires slats or other material so that a child can not squeeze through to "fall off"... but that doesn't make it a "wall", nor similar to a "wall".

To avoid having it count toward lot coverage and floor area ratio... one often needs to have a certain percent of the walls "open".  You will need to check with the local building department regarding this item.

No, it is not an "improvement" to try to create livable space out of a porch, regardless if it is screened or not.

The building department does have the authority to tell you to put it back the way it was if it doesn't meet code.

Roof overhang conditions on decks and porches can vary widely.  In most cases, roof overhangs does not increase "lot coverage".  But again, check with your local building department, as they are the "jurisdiction of authority".

Most building departments do not make any major distinctions between "porches" and "decks", even though most decks don't have roof overhangs, and many porches often have at least some of the porch covered with a roof.

One neighbor had an issue with required lot line set backs due to trying to enclose a back patio.  They had to change the walls to partially open to get it back to "patio" status in order to get the certificate of occupancy back.
  • November 02 2013
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Profile picture for raopatwar

Thank you very much Tim for replying my question. I had earlier thought of making improvements to the porch and talked to the County office.
That's how I came to know about this problem. Since there is no record of the porch, I do not want to do any improvements. First want to get this record corrected that the home came with a screened porch.
When I read the porch permit application, it asks contractor information. Since the builder has already built this porch when he sold it, I did not want to say that I am building it now. County gives permits for a new porch. Builder is not willing to correct their mistake. Would getting a letter from builder that they built it help me in getting this record corrected? Any input appreciated. Thank you.

  • November 02 2013
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Profile picture for Outer Banks N C
What is your goal here? I am confused what you want to happen. Are you just wanting the records to show you have a porch rather than a deck? It sounds like you will need to contact the building dept there and ask them what to do. An inspection and a new permit might be needed, but if it were me I would let the sleeping dog alone.


tim
  • November 01 2013
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