Adventures in Home Ownership: Our Illegal Additions are NOW LEGAL!

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As some of my older readers may recall, my husband and I have been struggling to legalize the illegal additions in our home since…



For my new readers, I’ll give you the short version:

We bought our home from my grandparents in 2009. Having been built in 1959, the house needed major work to bring it up to date. We began with installing new flooring, removing the wood paneling from the walls, and hiring Home Depot to install new windows and french doors. When the inspectors arrived for the windows, they found that our family room and bedrooms were illegally built – that is, my grandparents added extensions without a permit.

For the last three years, we’ve dealt with Miami Dade County inspectors, hiring electricians to rewire the house and install smoke alarms, a roofer to certify that the roof was up to code, AC mechanics to replace our AC ducts, install a new AC shut off valve and pump, etc, etc etc.

It’s cost A LOT of money. It’s caused me to cry on more than one occasion, sometimes even while standing at the Miami Dade County permitting office.

That was embarrassing. 

The clerk at the permitting office? He is pretty much my best friend by now – how could we not be after spending over two years talking on a monthly basis?

So that should catch you up.

Last weekend, we put the final touches on the family room. We primed, painted and actually decided to paint over the final remains of the wood paneling that once covered almost every wall in the house…

Pretty handsome handy man, if I do say so myself!

So today, when the county inspector came out to do my final inspection, I was so nervous that I was literally sick to my stomach.

I gave a shout out for good vibes and prayers across all of my social media networks, called my friends, begged the dogs to behave…and then the inspector arrived.

It didn’t go very well.

The inspector gave me an issue about the elevation of our family room, but then found on our revised plans that they included the elevation and a step.


Then the inspector told me that he was going to fail me because our windows weren’t large enough. In our county, you must have a certain window egress, most windows are required to be at least 28 inches in order for firemen to get themselves and their equipment through in case of emergency.

Well, our windows do MEET current code. They’ve passed individual inspections TWICE by other Miami Dade County inspectors. Not to mention, they were professionally installed by Home Depot, so they HAD to meet code!

So, after arguing with the inspector for what seems like 5 hours, and after two calls into his supervisors to check, he still didn’t want to pass me. Obviously, I wasn’t going to let it go. I knew for a fact that they met code, and I just couldn’t understand how he could not recognize that, being an experienced inspector and all.

So I asked him if I could show him and prove to him that they opened wide enough for a fireman to fit through.

Yup. I went there. 

He was kind of like, “well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”

I took off my shoes and climbed up on Angeline’s bed and showed him how the window installers showed me how to open the windows.

They are storm resistant windows, meaning that they can take impact of up to 500 pounds or something crazy like that. They also open completely so that you can get in and out in case of an emergency (we didn’t pay $16,000 for piece of crap windows, after all).

You can still see the screens in place, but the windows obviously open up all of the way.

After my demonstration, he reluctantly agreed to pass my final inspection.

I cried. 

So now what?

I have a list a mile long with all of the home improvements we’ve been waiting three years to get started on…

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  1. says

    Hallelujah! Wow, what a tough journey. I hate that you have to get permit for a fence or to change your kitchen faucet in my county- crazy huh. I hope the rest of the improvements go smoother and you can have more fun.

    • says

      In Miami, you have to get storm proof windows – they are VERY expensive…and we had to do our entire house. Thankfully we qualified for the Home Depot financing when we did it so we were able to pay it on a monthly basis!

    • says

      Yeah, I was ready to throw down. I would not take no for an answer…he should have known better, it’s his job to inspect them!!

  2. says

    Congratulations! That must be a huge, huge, HUGE relief to you. How ridiculous that he almost didn’t pass you based on the windows when you knew that they were up to code! Just shows how subjective the inspection process is.

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