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illegall sunroom/ art studio

kevlen's picture


I'm a first time poster with a question... I'm planning to start a remodel on my home in Southern California.  I plan to pull all neccesary permits etc.

My concern is that I have a non-permitted 400' sq foot sunroom/art studio in the backyard. It's built out of old glass doors and windows in an L shape off of 2 cynder block walls (one side is a shared wall w/ my neighbors, and the other is the alley).  My neighbors love it and the alley has recently been closed off to outside traffic.  Lot's of love and hours were put into it.

Do you think I'll have to tear it down in order to pass inspection ?  I never plan on moving...

Thanks for your response!


(post #60541, reply #1 of 9)

grey area kevlen,    If no neighbors get wind of it and protest, if the inspector doesn't see it and you don't mention it............

If it's built to code but has no side/rear setback to the neighbor, then it might be a zoning issue.  No doubt they could make you tear it down for one reason or another.  They've got the ammunition.  Can you just bring the inspector in the front door and close the blinds?

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.

Quittin' Time

A Great Place for Information, Comraderie, and a Sucker Punch.

Remodeling Contractor just outside the Glass City.


(post #60541, reply #2 of 9)

does it look like it has been there awhile? .... it might pay to take a look at the code about existing structures

here is a chunk of code that I found for alameda county in 1999...

I found it here.

Section 15.04.090 Existing buildings, structures, or installations.

    Except as required by Section 310.9.1 of the Building Code, and 15.16.140 herein, buildings or structures, electrical, plumbing or mechanical installations in existence at the time of the adoption of this chapter may have their existing use or occupancy continued if such use or occupancy was legal at the time of adoption of this chapter and provided such continued use is not dangerous or substandard and does not menace health, life or property.

    Electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems installed in apartments, hotels and dwellings and in existence prior to the adoption of this code, shall be deemed to have conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation if they have been maintained in good condition and are currently in good and safe condition and working properly. (Ord. 2000-15 § 2 (part), 1999)


disclamer "I am not a expert"


that said ..... in the first sentance it seems to say that if it was built before 99 and it is sound.... then it's OK.


Can they tell when it was put in?



(post #60541, reply #4 of 9)

The structure looks 100yrs old.  It looks like a little white cottage and sits about 60' from the back of the main house.  It's not connected in any way to the main house.  As far as whether or not it is a sound structure, it's probably overbuilt if anything.  I basically built a post and beam patio with all of my left over materials, then filled in the voids over time w/ old windows and doors since there was no load bearing factor. 

(post #60541, reply #3 of 9)

Around here, you'd have to tear it down just to get a permit!

There are plenty of safety violations here if I understand the description, witout even knowing construction style and if built to code. The attachemnt ot neighbor's wall constitutes an addition ot his house and violates typical setbacck requirements. Those requirements are there for prevention of fire spread. I hear you guys get a lot of fires out there. The glass panels sound like they are simply stacked and leaned. That would leave me doubtfull that the walls are engineered as shear walls for seismic concerns. You really want your family in a house of glass cards when the big one hits?

Setbacks are normally required for access for emergency personell too. how you gonna feel about all the love you put into it when a fireman is trying to drag a hose down through there and runs into a gl;ss wall that isn't supposed to be therer and he gets himself hurt trying to save a family member of yours?

The rules have reasons so I'm not fond of trying to find ways around them.


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Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

(post #60541, reply #5 of 9)

In our jurisdiction you can build a 400 SF non-habitable accessory building without a permit. I think it's 200 SF most places per UBC, but you should check what it is down there.

(post #60541, reply #6 of 9)

What area are you from?

(post #60541, reply #9 of 9)

agricultural area, everyone has outbuildings, and I guess the building department got tired of trying to regulate the lousy construction work that farmers do.

(post #60541, reply #7 of 9)

See what a difference the location makes! Here, it is 120 sq ft


 <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Welcome to the
Taunton University of
Knowledge FHB Campus at Breaktime.
 where ...
Excellence is its own reward!



Oh Well,

We did the best we could...

(post #60541, reply #8 of 9)

120 here...

Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming....

                                        WOW!!!   What a Ride!

"Some days it's just not worth chewing through the restraints"