It’s often possible to fly under the radar when constructing certain kinds of developments on your own land
When it comes to construction, there’s always been an uneasy balance between the rights of landowners and their responsibilities to the authorities. Planning and land use issues have traditionally been handled at state level, with the federal government maintaining a hands-off approach. Planning rules vary widely from one state to the next, with some (Kansas, Louisiana) taking a more relaxed approach to land use regulations than others (New Jersey, Maryland).
Although we’d always recommend checking state planning laws before significantly amending your home, it’s often possible to fly under the radar when constructing certain kinds of developments on your own land. This negates any issues when refinancing or selling your home if you don’t subsequently acquire a permit. You can also minimize the risk of neighbor interference by pre-emptively adding vegetation screening and ground cover, such as growing hedges to block line-of-sight from neighboring properties to your new structure.
Below, we’ve listed three developments which shouldn’t need planning permission:
A basement conversion
Many properties have sub-floor space crying out for cultivation. Basements can be customized to your heart’s content, equipping them with heat, light, insulation and plumbing drawn from the floors above. Installing HVAC helps keep the air dry, and in tandem with low levels of natural daylight, this makes basements ideal for long-term food and provisions storage. However, it’s vital to line the walls to keep out sub-soil water, while ensuring any moisture generated by people or appliances is vented externally.
An uninhabited single-story outbuilding
Most states permit the construction of an unoccupied outbuilding – by which they mean one not intended for residential use. For prepper purposes, that should be fine. As an example, Oregon permits one-story detached structures with a maximum roof height of ten feet and a floor area of less than 200 square feet. In Texas, the same floor space can have a roof height of 15 feet, while in LA County, the roof height shouldn’t exceed 12 feet and square footage is capped at 120. These buildings shouldn’t contain electrical or mechanical installations, which means chemical toilets and diesel generators are acceptable. Construction materials and design are usually left to the landowner’s discretion, meaning you can construct 18-inch lead-lined stone walls inset with bulletproof glass.
A mobile structure
This doesn’t just mean adapting an RV into a bug out vehicle. You could go down the self-build route and convert anything from a school bus to a semi-trailer. Providing it’s capable of moving (however slowly), you won’t need planning permission because it’s technically a vehicle. Yet to all intents and purposes, this is a permanent structure which can be left on your grounds indefinitely and adapted using the same techniques you’d apply to a shed or outbuilding. You get to choose the wall thickness and construction materials, heat and power sources, storage facilities and sleeping accommodation. Just make sure to regularly check the battery, so you can fire it up if a planning official pays a visit…