Berkeley deck penalty

We have explored building a deck with permits in Berkeley. We'd like to know what the consequences of building a deck without permits would be. We understand that penalties could be imposed. Specifically how are penalties assessed? Can they be assessed at any point in the future ? Thanks for the information.

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RE: Berkeley deck penalty ()

Seems like almost every house in Berkeley has had work done without permits. One of the consequences is that the work might not meet code and will therefore be dangerous. If your neighbors turn you in or the city finds out, I think they double the permit fees. If you want to build without permits, there are several basic rules to follow in order to get away with it. Observe quiet hours. Hide all building materials from those driving by. Don't rent a porta-potty. Be nice to neighbors. 

RE: Berkeley deck penalty ()

So you are basically asking what might happen if you deliberately decide to break the law.  Double permit fees if caught without a permit may be the least of your potential problems.  How about total personal and negligence liability if there is a failure in the deck system or any part of the deck and railing is substandard and someone gets hurt for whatever reason? The City of Berkeley takes all this very seriously since the balcony failure a few years ago where a number of visiting Irish students fell to their deaths.  Getting a permit means your deck and railing have to be designed and engineered to meet safety, structural, and seismic codes, are checked by the City for compliance before approval, and inspected in place by the City to make sure the work as constructed conforms to the plans and code.   Why you wouldn't want to do that to safeguard your friends, family, and visitors and protect yourself from liability is beyond me.  Or you would potentially prefer getting sued in a personal injury law suit and explaining at the deposition that you thought it would be ok to ignore the law and save some money on permit fees.   You would also be potentially criminally liable in case of serious injury.  I would suggest you ask your homeowners insurance agent about what you planning on doing and get his or her opinion.  Constructing an illegal deck would probably be justification enough for your insurance company to drop your coverage in a heart beat, and they wouldn't defend you if there was a lawsuit.   

RE: Berkeley deck penalty ()

I live in Berkeley and have done a lot of work on my house, all with the necessary permits.  I wouldn't build a deck or anything else without permits. Here are some of the reasons why: 1)  If for any reason the city discovers your unpermitted deck, they could make you tear it out and re-do it with permits 2)  Reputable contractors do not build without permits.  If you have one who is willing to do unpermitted work, there's a good chance they are not licensed, have inadequate knowledge of structural and safety requirements, will cut corners in other ways, and will not be responsible if anything goes wrong. 3) Unpermitted work reduces the value of your house. Given house prices in Berkeley it doesn't make sense to cheapen your property with unpermitted work, even worse if the work is done by unlicensed contractors.  When you sell your house, you are legally required to disclose work done without a permit and you can be sued if you don't.  I personally would not buy a house that had unpermitted construction. Especially not a deck where there could be serious liability issues. 

RE: Berkeley deck penalty ()

I'm going to be the wicked one on this thread. My struggles to get permits do do things legally (which I have always done before) have been epic. The City of Berkeley simply doesn't have its s--t together. You can wait a year. More.

For this reason, I know perfectly reputable contractors who will build something like a deck without a permit. (But they build it to code.)

You can be sued for any reason, even if your house's permits are perfectly in order.

The question is, how friendly are you with your neighbors? Will the deck impede their sight line? Will the construction noise make them hate you? I'd consult with them about what you want to do, and why. If they say, go with God, then nothing bad will happen. You then buy them each a case of wine.

However, an illegal deck is something you absolutely have to disclose if you ever sell the place. Generally, folks don't care, but you just want to cover your bases.

I know people who WORK for the City of Berkeley who have done things like this. It will stop when the City revamps its permit department. Not before. Believe me, I want the City to have the money!