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Celebrates five years of helping property owners permit complex illegal work


The Get Legal Program assists customers with the following types of work:

  • basement, attic or garage conversions
  • single family homes that have been illegally converted to multifamily use
  • additions
  • work in commercial buildings
  • evaluation of need to be placed in program

Karl Harn - BDS Senior Building InspectorFive years ago, the Get Legal Program was conceived to help residential and commercial property owners needing specialized assistance to legalize complex work done at their property without permits. The Get Legal Program has helped over 150 property owners legalize complex unpermitted work. Over the past year we answered approximately 1,500 telephone inquiries and are currently assisting 26 property owners to legalize work at their properties.

In April 2007, Get Legal expanded to incorporate reactivation of cancelled or expired permits. This includes necessary inspections to complete the original scope of work. “We’ve seen an increase in the number of property owners wanting to make sure that all permits taken out on their property are inspected and approved,” said Dave Tebeau, Senior Building Inspector.

Permit reactivation can be complex due to the length of time that may have passed since the permit was issued. In some cases, 10 years or more may have passed and the structural, mechanical, electrical or plumbing codes may have changed several times. Get Legal provides a tailored plan and a single point of contact for various permit-related situations. Some projects are handled by Get Legal whereas others are better suited for the bureau’s standard permitting process.

While the Get Legal Program does not replace the Bureau’s existing process for permitting and legalizing work, it does provide an avenue for customers who have a complex situation and require specialized assistance with legalizing their property. Application fees for the Get Legal Program are $350 for residential and $450 for commercial properties. This fee includes consultation services customers receive from the Get Legal Team, as well as an Administrative Appeal. Low-income property owners may qualify for an application fee waiver. Get Legal application fees do not include the cost of the permits or other development related costs.

The program welcomes Karl Harn, Senior Building Inspector, back to Get Legal. Karl was a founding member of the Get Legal Program and replaces Senior Building Inspector, Dave Tebeau, who has moved to another position in the bureau. Karl’s return will continue the program’s ability to bring a unique combination of experience, customer service and problem solving skills to the team.

“Thanks for the trust you have put in me and Get Legal. I’ll try to make your way easier, and give wise counsel. View me as a brother who will help you along the way. Welcome and thanks for your participation." Karl Harn, Sr. Building Inspector BDS Get Legal Program.

To learn more about Get Legal, call (503) 823-7281 or visit our Get Legal Program.


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