Treehouse too posh for county building code

There’s no such thing as private property when you live in a land of imminent domain. Local/State and Federal can all come and make claims to the land you put a house on… it hardly means you own the land, no matter what popular and romantic ideologies try to tell people.

Finding Bobby Chen may move the needle closer to the private property end of the spectrum…

Why shouldn’t I be allowed to build a 20 unit, 6 story development on my private property; right next to yours? Preferably overshadowing and overlooking your yard, with no on-site car parking for residents or visitors.

I’m clearly using an extreme example, but the point is that what you chose to do on your private land does affect the land around it. Without some basic rules about the number of dwellings around, etc then utilities, traffic, parking, etc all get choked and everyone, especially the people in surrounding properties end up with crappy outcomes.


Not even all wooden! Many Schraebergaerten have brick-built sheds/summer houses with toilets and little kitchens. But as you say, you aren’t supposed to move in, although part of the plot of ‘Kleiner Mann, was nun?’ relates to people doing exactly that during the great depression.

What on Earth is a ‘green fence’? Do you mean a hedge?

Yes. Dictionary fail, sorry.

With too many rules you get a similar choking effect.

That’s what I consider to be an argument in favor of ownership of heavy machine guns, anti-tank mines, and other area-defense systems. My land.

Why you should “need” a “license” to build such a thing, at all?!?

So what.

So bill the utilities cost by actual usage, possibly with higher pricing above a threshold. Nothing impossible with today’s electronics.

Why have all sorts of arbitrary limitations and “permits” and “licences” when the same effect can be achieved with less effort by addressing the actual impacts?

So what if it is an accessory with a kitchen? A bureaucrat got another thing to overspecify and to fill a form for, cough up a fee, and beg for permission.

…or just take the kitchen out, satisfy the Holy Rule, and once the bureaucrat leaves, quietly put it back in…

reads some history

Yeah, how’s that work out for peoples traditionally?

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Oh, I doubt that. It’ll be a “It happened, here’s some compensation, get over it.” … if the find him.

The Whiskey Rebellion was the beginning of the string of big fails.

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But the infrastructure wasn’t built for it. The south side of Chicago has almost as much electronic usage as the north side, but the electrical grid can’t handle it because the population density and use was significantly different when it was built. Brown-outs used to be a daily occurrence, black-outs are still common, and transformers blow regularly and spectacularly (we’ve had 3 fires-through-much-of-the-night sparked by transformers on our block in the last 6 months). Adding more people isn’t just a question of higher utility bills…it strains the infrastructure.

The country codes are likely not specific to candy kitchens. Perhaps for health and safety only a certain number of buildings with kitchens are allowed per sewer line or septic systems per acre. Perhaps the other members of the community only want a certain density of dwellings/acre to keep their neighborhood upscale (that really happens). Perhaps they are due to fire regulations that limit kitchens in some way because many fires in houses start there. You would probably need to look at the history of the building codes in this community to understand how the balance was struck.

(I am having trouble keeping the sarcastic tone out of my needless patient explanation, I apologize. Please graciously add my responses to the other excellent ones here).

Regulations can creak and get out-of-date, but here it seems like you’re arguing that there should be a limit on utility usage, just that the bar shouldn’t be set at “posh treehouse” level. Secondly, would a regulation on the number of people you can have living on your property really be less cumbersome than building permitting?

True that. Hence the tiered charging is there for getting people to reduce demand (two energy-frugal people can take as much as one energy-hungry), and to get more money for beefing up the grid at the next infrastructure maintenance/upgrade cycle. (Which of course won’t happen because the gouging-scheme will bring more money and who in their sane mind would spend them on thicker wires and new transformers when they can have a better yacht.)

I’m also a fan of tiered pricing as a way to make people pay for their privileges. I think automobile gasoline taxes should be much higher, for example, and for-profit companies should pay the costs of ALL cleanup from their processes instead of passing on the bill (and the waste) to future taxpayers.

So sure, if there was a way for an owner to truly cover the cost to others of any additions/improvements on their property, I’d be OK with the regulations being relaxed about how many home-like structures they can put on their property. That’s a pie-in-the-sky dream, however.

@chgoliz is spot on. Usage rates should be how utilities are billed, but doing so doesn’t address the issues of infrastructure that is stretched beyond the limit by laissez-faire planning.

For example, who should be responsible for bearing the cost of upgrading a sewer to cope with the extra demand put on it by people that have built extra houses on their properties? Everyone living in the area, including those that have lived there well before there was a problem? Only the people that built extra properties? Just the person that happened to be ‘the straw that broke the camels back’? Billing usage might be able to recover infrastructure costs over the longer term in a fair and equitable manner, but it means councils/government (whoever is responsible for such infrastructure in whatever jurisdiction) have to be either cashed up enough cover it, or burdened with debt just to keep pace.

Edit, clearly should have read through the next few responses before replying. However:
Two energy-frugal people might be only as demanding as one energy hungry person, but its not just electricity energy we’re talking. Power, water, sewerage, roads, parking, public transport, even public parks will all get strained by additional people that haven’t been catered for. Extra people living in an area also generally means extra visitors. There are also compounding effects, you get enough people in an area, that makes certain businesses more viable (think Cafes) which will put even more additional strain on utilities/services/public amenities.

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There are occasions when bureaucracy gets silly - but someone building a fully functional accommodation block and disguising it as a tree house is not it.

Where I live there are a few loft conversions with mansard roofs going on, as it has begun to be an area where Hasidic Jews are happy to move in (it’s got a lot nicer and safer-feeling since I first moved here). They have big families so I understand why they do them, even though it spoils the character of the area a bit. The problem is in the area neighbouring us where they’ve been established for longer, it’s like some kind of shanty-town or favela, because so many unapproved modifications have gone unchallenged by the local planning body. That’s the problem with enforcement - it has to apply equally to everything or it loses the ability to enforce anything - you say ‘no, you can’t build that extension’ and the response is an appeal, because the guy two doors down has got one. Then people find their property values have fallen because their house is now surrounded by ugly breeze-block structures of dubious origin, and so even if they hate it they may not be able to move out. It’s not only in poorer areas like mine, either - we have a massive problem with rich folk burrowing down because planning doesn’t apply in the same way to buried structures (the ‘iceberg houses’). Some London mansions are over 75% underground, require constant pumping out to remain dry, and because build quality has fallen as this has become more popular (also I guess because the ground is getting like swiss cheese), neighbours’ houses are getting damaged or collapsing into the hole, green space is lost, trees killed, streets are suddenly falling in, utilities are getting interfered with - and the disruption to public space during the build is also a massive problem; it’s a total disaster for others.


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