Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Sign In with Facebook Sign In with OpenID

Cleveland, OH, USA

edited August 2014 in Law
I live in University Heights, a suburb of Cleveland, OH.  A friend of mine in this same city was just told by a city inspector to take down the treehouse he built because it needs a permit.  In order to get a permit, pictures and architectural quality plans are required.  He was also told that he would not get a permit for a number of reasons, including proximity to utility lines.  This is the same person who was told by city inspectors that he needed a full concrete slab under his garden shed (which cost more than the shed) while the inspectors told my immediate neighbor that he could just put up his shed of the same design with no pad or foundation.

I am looking into building a treehouse on my property, and I cannot find any city ordinances that specifically state anything about treehouses or accessory buildings.  The only thing stated is:

"The City requires that a building permit be obtained before proceeding with any construction, alteration, addition or demolition of any building or accessory structure. The Building Department issues permits and arranges to inspect work and materials to ensure that all activity conforms to the Ordinances, of the City of University Heights."

That and the $30 fee for an accessory structure building permit.

Without any written ordinances, it looks like the inspector can make up whatever requirements he wants.

- Hillel, 2007



This does seem a restrictive arrangement, but I think with such vague statements as the one quoted there would be a way around the limitations.

    "The City requires that a building permit be obtained before proceeding with any construction, alteration, addition or demolition of any building or accessory structure. The Building Department issues permits and arranges to inspect work and materials to ensure that all activity conforms to the Ordinances, of the City of University Heights."

Points to clarify
1. Their definition of an accessory structure
2. There may be some exemptions to the definitions of a 'building' and an 'accessory structure'
3. Did your friend need to get full architectural drawings made for their shed? If not, why not - ie where is the cutoff?
4. With no specific ordinances to refer to, it seems unlikely that the inspector can force you to stop building.

If you follow point 4, it would be sensible to at least adhere to any guidelines for an accessory structure - and if possible specifically a shed.

This may include
1. Proximity to the edge of the property
2. Height limits - critically for a treehouse, is this measured from the base of the structure up or from the ground up
3. Proximity to overhead utilities - theoretically the tree will already be closer than the treehouse but building works may be considered separately to the trees themselves
4. Suitability for habitation - treehouses (like sheds) are generally small, used temporarily, have no power and no plumbed water, ie they aren't suited for habitation

Building treehouses in the city often causes conflict with the inspectors, but nevertheless many treehouses exist in cities through a combination of persistence and compromise. If you do need a permit, it is possible to get a treehouse approved by a structural engineer and to have architectural plans drawn up retrospectively, but it will be an expensive and time consuming process.
Sign In or Register to comment.