True Story – where the guilty party and the location of the property must remain anonymous – from my hubby, Rick Hartman, Architect at his company HOMETEC Architecture.  He has lots of stories after having been in business for 23 years…here’s one:

 I received a phone call from a potential client, let’s call him Mr. Roche, saying “I just left the court and the judge said if I don’t get a permit for my building in 3 weeks, he’ll throw me in jail.”

 Obviously, this got my attention.

 Here’s how he described it:  A car ran into his building.  It actually ran into a non-permitted addition on the original permitted building.  Mr. Roche, did his repairs, rebuilding a wall and part of a roof, again without permits, he was caught and red-tagged by the Building Department (meaning that they noticed what he was doing and made him stop).  

Reversed into his neighbors house!

The Building Inspector (for structural and safety issues) came out and reviewed the work and said that the construction looked good and was all to code.  However, Mr. Roche, you will have to have Planning Department approval (for zoning and aesthetics).   So he went to the Planning Department who said “This is ugly, no way will we approve this.  Rebuild it and make it beautiful.”  “I can’t afford that”, says Mr. Roche.  “Too bad”, says Planning and he walks away.

The Planning Department was miffed that he walked off and referred the case to the City Attorney who sent letter after letter to our Mr. Roche.  Seeing that the letters were being ignored, the City Attorney filed a suite against Mr. Roche.  The Judge gave him several reprieves to address the situation but, seeing no faithful response from the owner, finally gave him an ultimatum – Get the permit or you are facing jail time!  That’s when Mr. Roche called me.

I hated that wall anyway...

So, I did a redesign for the addition, submitted the plans to the Planning Department and then received approval for the design, created the construction documents, submitted them and received approval from the Building Department.  The court case was terminated and the client was off the hook.  But, and here’s the fun part, Mr. Roche never actually built it.  Now, 15 years later, I drive by the property and see the same ugly addition built without permits on the side of his building (see why the story can’t name names?).

 So, Mr. Roche was not facing jail time because he built something unsafe, but because he built something that was ugly.  And, in the end, he paid fees and got a pretty design approved, which made Planning happy enough to leave him alone. 

Museum started up the train and off it went!

2 years later he gives me a call because he got busted again for building another addition illegally!  Some people just don’t learn.  Or maybe they do learn something, just not the right thing… 😉

All pictures from

Through a brick wall!

Now how does something like this even happen?

A perfect fit!

Amazing, really, that the rest of the mobile home is intact!

Somebody’s in big trouble!