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We have a deck and pool on our home that we did not get a permit to build, can the county require a permit ten years later?

Wilmington, IL |

We have paid the penality and they are making it very difficult to keep this pool and deck.

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Attorney answers 4


Speak to a local attorney to discuss what can be done. Local ordinance and buiolding codes are involved here and we cannot answer generally.


As a general rule, the passage of time does not "cure" a zoning violation. A municipality typically has the right to require you to remove an unpermitted improvement, or require that you seek approval - and may seek back taxes.

If this answer was helpful, please mark it as helpful or as a best answer. This answer is for general education purposes only. It neither creates an attorney-client relationship nor provides legal guidance or advice. The answer is based on the limited information provided and the answer might be different had additional information been provided. You should consult an attorney.


Generally, yes a County can require permitting after-the-fact even if the time period has been decades. If it was built illegally without permits, it remains illegal until permitted. I am not sure what you mean when you say you have "paid the penalty." If they fined you for failure to comply, then you still have to comply even if you paid the fine. If they charged you a fine, and allowed you to keep the structers then that may be a problem. You will need to retain a local attorney if you want to fight this.



We have paid for the permit, and the penality for not having the permit to build, but what "zoning rules" are we required to follow? The rules from when the structure was constructuted or now? How do I get ahold of the "zoning rules?" The structure is well built, however the office is determined to tear it down.

Ryan Vancil Esq

Ryan Vancil Esq


Unfortunately, the general rule is that you have to follow current code. Even though the structure was built ten years ago it was not permitted so they apply current code when they find you out of compliance. You should be able to get a copy of the relevant code sections from the County. Most Counties have their zoning code posted online. However, you will likely need to see the building code and for many municipalities that includes the International Building Code which is not generally available online, but the County will have a copy available for review. Open dialogue with the County - they should be able to provide you copies of the sections of the code that they are requiring you to comply with. Even if you probably don't like them, they are your best source of information, and they are obligated to provide it.


While not recommended, it's not unusual to get permits after project completion. Permits are necessary, without them, the building department can take you to court and require you to remove any unpermitted construction. While this may seem burdensome to the property owner, keep in mind that the building department, its permits, and codes was initially instated to keep you and the public healthy and safe.
For your consideration, two things:
1) Do you have homeowner's insurance? Are they aware of the unpermitted structures? Heaven forbid you need to make a claim if someone were injured in/on one of these structures, you may run into difficulties getting the insurance company to pay for damages or medical costs incurred on anything unpermitted.
2) If you were to resell your property at some point, an appraiser may not include any unpermitted structures in valuing your home. So obtaining permits may add to your property value.
Regardless of the above points, you should consider bringing any unpermitted structures up to code for your own personal safety.
Best of luck in that endeavor.

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