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Homeowner faces nearly $1M in fines for building without permits

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Editor's note: Robert Bruss is temporarily away. The following column from Bruss' "Best of" collection first appeared Sunday, April 16, 2006. In 1999, Jimmy Jen purchased a dilapidated single-family house. Based on prior experiences with the local building inspectors, he applied for a permit to do only $2,500 of minor dry-rot repairs. Instead, Jen added a two-room extension, plus a second-floor addition, altered the basement to create four habitable rooms and a garage, constructed new decks on the roof, and installed extensive new plumbing and electrical wiring. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. The building inspector learned about the work that was not authorized by the building permit for dry-rot repairs. A "stop-work notice" was posted at the house, but Jen continued work. He also ignored a second stop-work notice and continued construction. In 2000, Jen submitted another building permit application. But the building inspection department and the city-planning department ruled the ...