1. ATTENTION returning members. If you are coming here from the old forum for the first time, you will need to reset you password. However, we had an email problem getting password reset links set out to a lot of the email addresses. That problem is temporarily rectified but IF you still have an issue, email me direct at info@thebuildingcodeforum.com and I will give you a temporary password.
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Welcome to the new and improved Building Code Forum. We appreciate you being here and hope that you are getting the information that you need concerning all codes of the building trades. This is a free forum to the public due to the generosity of the Sawhorses, Corporate Supporters and Supporters who have upgraded their accounts. If you would like to have improved access to the forum please upgrade to Sawhorse by clicking here: Upgrades
    Dismiss Notice

Definition of a Building

Discussion in 'Zoning' started by tomtomtom, Nov 5, 2018.

  1. tomtomtom

    tomtomtom Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am currently working with a client in a small town in Connecticut- I am dealing with an issue which defies legal precedent and industry standards:
    This is the Town's definition of a "building":
    "Structure of walls, post, columns or other devices which may or may not support a roof, and which is used for the housing, shelter, enclosure or support of persons, animals or property of any kind. Any other structure more than six (6) feet high shall be considered as a Building, including a solid fence or wall, but excluding an electric transmission line or an electric light, telephone or telegraph pole, radio or TV Antenna, highway bridge or flagpole."

    This town makes general references to "structures" however there is an absence of definition or specific regulations for what would conventionally be considered non-building structures- some of which are included in the definition of building: typically using language defining construction with a roof, used for shelter or dwelling.. a fence for example is by no normal criteria a building; nor a pergola which is the issue I am ultimately addressing with this zoning official who claims that a pergola is a building.
     
  2. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,898
    Likes Received:
    698
    If a 6' high fence is a building or structure, then so is your pergola....They will win this one...Unless your pergola is 5'11"
     
  3. tomtomtom

    tomtomtom Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'll consult my land-use attorney: by no other legal definition is a fence a building- this is poorly authored code.
     
  4. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    15,019
    Likes Received:
    898
    Welcome
     
  5. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    15,019
    Likes Received:
    898
    Plus you are looking at

    Zoning


    As in I don’t want your tower in my backyard


    Not building code
     
    JBI likes this.
  6. JCraver

    JCraver Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    554
    Likes Received:
    192
    It's a broad definition but I don't think it's that poorly written - it's clear enough that your pergola definitely fits their definition of "building". Whether the definition holds up in court is a whole other matter, and will depend primarily on how good your attorney is.

    It'd probably be cheaper/easier to get an item on the agenda for the next plan commission or zoning board meeting (whichever authors the definitions) and petition to change the code. If you have a good argument that the definition should be changed, and can get the board to agree with you, that'll certainly be cheaper/faster than going to court.
     
    JBI likes this.
  7. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    15,019
    Likes Received:
    898
    Just a little more expanded from IBC


    BUILDING. Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.
     
    JBI likes this.
  8. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    15,019
    Likes Received:
    898
    AREA, BUILDING. The area included within surrounding exterior walls (or exterior walls and fire walls) exclusive of vent shafts and courts. Areas of the building not provided with surrounding walls shall be included in the building area if such areas are included within the horizontal projection of the roof or floor above
     
  9. Pcinspector1

    Pcinspector1 Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    244
    I could see where you could tie a canvass or tarp to a fence and connect it to two or three poles and have a shelter. I've seen done in Anaheim, CA along the bike way.

    A pergola can eventually turn into a building just like the kids playhouse.
     
  10. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    5,898
    Likes Received:
    698
    If we can require a building permit for a 6' or 7' fence, don't see why zoning couldn't or shouldn't have a concern as well...What is the issue with the regs you are having? Setbacks? Lot coverage?
     
    JBI likes this.
  11. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    225
    A fence> 6' is a "structure" subject to wind load and if masonry must be seismicly resistent (footing, rebar).
    A structure by definition must be self supporting, how tall is your Pergola?
    Consider cell towers and windmills, also cooling towers
     
    JBI likes this.
  12. ADAguy

    ADAguy Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    2,618
    Likes Received:
    225
    Building Definition (towns):

    This is the Town's definition of a "building":


    "Structure of walls, post, columns or other devices which may or may not support a roof, and which is used for the housing, shelter, enclosure or support of persons, animals or property of any kind.


    Any other structure more than six (6) feet high shall be considered as a Building, including a solid fence or wall, but excluding an electric transmission line or an electric light, telephone or telegraph pole, radio or TV Antenna, highway bridge or flagpole."

    This town makes general references to "structures" however there is an absence of definition or specific regulations for what would conventionally be considered non-building structures- some of which are included in the definition of building: typically using language defining construction with a roof, used for shelter or dwelling.. a fence for example is by no normal criteria a building; nor a pergola which is the issue I am ultimately addressing with this zoning official who claims that a pergola is a building.


    Pergola:

    A pergola is an outdoor structure (therefore by "their" definition a building) consisting of columns that support a roofing or supporting grid of beams and rafters. ... ( it may be freestanding or constructed over sitting areas or walkways)

    In order to gain a better grasp of the definition for "pergola," it is helpful to compare and contrast it with other outdoor structures with which it is sometimes associated, including: Arbors. Gazebos. Trellises.

    Arbor:

    formed of horizontal framework/trelliswork supported on columns or posts, over which vines or other plants are trained.

    Its a "construction", period.
     
  13. VillageInspector

    VillageInspector Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2010
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    11
    Under the townships language your pergola is a structure
     
  14. JBI

    JBI Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,766
    Likes Received:
    272
    Since the OP is not providing much information I will guess that the 'client' built the pergola without a permit and is likely in violation of a zoning setback requirement. The 'client' now wants tomtomtom to argue that it is not a 'building' and therefore not subject to a 'building permit' requirement.
    If that is in fact pretty much what's happening I might suggest you assist your client through the permit process and if necessary the variance process. That will be far simpler, faster and less costly than trying to fight a losing battle.
     
  15. jwilly3879

    jwilly3879 Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2010
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    39
    Or Zoning defines a pergola as a structure and requires a Building Permit if it is over 140 sf and is subject to Zoning setbacks regardless of the size.
     

Share This Page