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Getting around building codes; shotcrete; retaining walls; LOW cost.

 
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Hey, I'm trying to do the same thing in San Bernardino CA and was wondering if you found any info about the seasonal cabin idea. I've tried to look it up but have found no code/permits or material related to it. Did you end up building a structure? did you get it permitted or keep it under the radar? From all my research it seems like we have to do it on the DL and hope no one catches us. Just hoping for a miracle loophole over here.
 
gardener
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Location: SoCal USA
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You are really at the mercy of the building code requirements of your county, and the possibility of nosy neighbors and Google Earth/drones having a view from a thousand feet up. While you might get away with it without a problem, you might not.

The best option is to buy property in a county which doesn't enforce building codes, or has built-in exceptions. Rural counties in lower-population areas are more likely to work, but if you already own land and want to build on it, then you either have to spend all the extra money and build something you might not want, or try to avoid detection and hope you don't get caught. If caught, expect fines and either retrofit at great expense, or bulldoze it all flat.
 
pollinator
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Location: northern northern california
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well the OP is probably not around here...but i will add my 2 cents as this is an issue still needing discussion.

i am thinking a way to get around building codes is to build "agricultural buildings".

now codes vary greatly with state and county, so you have to read your local town's bylaws and anything you can find in your state. i'm sure theres a lot of variation between the people who do inspections and if they are lenient and just trying to help a person make a structure safe, or if you get the one guy in the town who will make a huge issue of a small meaningless thing.


actually just living the way i naturally want to live anyway, with bazillion of plants and growing as much food as is possible, makes it a bit easier....to play off the agricultural building angle, of which there are usually little to no over sight of....or restrictions on. again this is is highly dependent on your location. being very rural helps. even in most residential areas, small farms are allowed and given a much easier time getting "accessory" building permitted or told they dont need permits.

since i want to build a tiny house, with a huge greenhouse, i believe i may be able to hide that it is actually humble living space within. so a potential plan i have thought of is to play off a building as just being for growing plants, as a small farm...basically as though it is only for support and a purpose related to growing food..

people are allowed to own a piece of land without putting a house on it ...and to have a small (or large) farm on that land, even in many residential areas that have pro farm laws on the books.
and if the smallest part of the "agricultural building" looks a bit like a kitchen/living room...well that is not unusual for its a space for people to be when they are not working on stuff, and having a kitchen food storage area when growing food makes perfect sense. not having a nice bathroom, etc...things people would do anyway when building a small structure on a shoestring...changes the way it seems.

some states (many that i have lived in and read local codes of) have an exception for farm buildings and anything used for growing plants, used to house animals etc. while you might want to at least talk with the building dept. to let them know you have built it or whatever, and get an ok to go ahead and build a small shed for some agricultural stated purpose.
but not calling it a house rather an agricultural building, or greenhouse, or barn. not all towns and states though have these kinds of exceptions.

another loophole  is to build under 200 sq ft . some places i have been the limit is 300 sq ft. anything under 300 sq ft does not need a permit.
other people build up on wheels because things on wheels dont need a permit. however some places wont even let you have anything on wheels, or if so only temporarily. building rural helps again in that respect.

now maybe none of this addresses the OP, but i am thinking they arent around much. i have never heard of a place that wouldnt allow small simple sheds and such, and it seems strange to me that they would require a regular house and septic before allowing accessory buildings. these kinds of things are highly localized though, so its your town and the by laws that you must follow...
 
Mark Brunnr
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Location: SoCal USA
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That's a good point, and a person can explain that the place is for canning foods on-site for example, and storing such foods until needed. And since it takes some time for the canning process and you need to watch a canner to be safe, well it makes sense to have a couch there to hang out, and extrapolate from there.
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1467
Location: northern northern california
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yeah i dont think you would even have to explain, it would just look ok anyway, to have food, a kitchen, tools for preserving food, stores of food and such in a farm building.
and yes, a couch, a daybed, etc...
you may not even need or want an inspection at all, since most places (anywhere i have been anyway which is usually very rural) do not require an inspection or permit for this sort of building...if you went to building dept and said...i am building a barn, or i am building a greenhouse...and just checking in...i believe they would mostly tell you - that is fine you dont need a permit.

if you did have to have an inspection, then for that day and time you can rearrange things to look more farmy, less house y ...

admittedly i feel a bit weird to put this out there, i think when i try to do something not entirely legit its good to not tell anyone, especially not the whole internet! =P

but being...on a minor thread here in permies land, well i guess i thought to put it out there in case someone else might think to try this too. i suppose try at your own risk, but this has been my thinking. just to not even try and explain anything...just to act as though its completely ok to build an agricultural building without seeking a permit, of course leaving out the part where i want to camp out inside of it...which really should be no ones business anyway...

...or to just talk with building department and tell them you are building a greenhouse/barn/farm shed/animal enclosure/etc....

most everywhere i have been this is an exception to the building codes, and in most places i have been you can build these without a permit. as i would be legitimately using them to support my farming, and would be doing a large food growing project anyway because thats what i do ...well this has been my thinking.

 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1467
Location: northern northern california
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also , in california, or at least the far northern part of cal where i have been living, we have the Class K building permit.
it allows for alternative type construction if it looks solid and without any glaring problems. it will allow for simple normal type construction too,

i only know Class K is valid for Mendocino, Humboldt, Siskiyou and Trinity counties, i am unsure if the rest of cal has that or not.

this is not to say...oo well that california makes it incredibly easy, or that there arent areas where it would be difficult to build something unconventional, especially in the towns and cities and in places with high priced land.


but yeah you have to check with your local town by laws, and county rules. it is different every where you go, with rural areas tending to have much more easy going rules.
but i would consider to try to get the Class K permit in Cal, they will help you jump through the hoops of it, if you want to go that route...i think it's not that hard, just tedious, but one thing at a time and you could get a nice alternative structure permitted that way.
 
pollinator
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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I cannot believe what I am reading.
You want to build a house and cannot even buy a shipping container for a start.
Will you actually have any money to build anyway?

I notice many comments about how hard it is to build because the local authorities are annoying, or it seems you think the authorities will give you a hard time anyway.
The other point is the comment about paying too much in tax and you should not have to contribute anymore funding to the government.

Do you generally feel there is a conspiracy to keep you away, and secondly who is going to pay for government services, if you feel you should not be doing so?
gift
 
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