Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

They have built a wall a few inches from mine – wood with a cinder block foundation – about 4” from my exterior wall. It is on his property, but I have no idea how they will install siding or how I would ever repair mine.

I called the owner, who said his “architect got it approved.” We then called DCRA, who sent out an inspector who slapped a stop-work order on the place. Turns out, he didn’t have a permit for a new addition at all.

My question: How do I make him move the wall back over, now that it’s built? I have seen a ton of illegal construction around here and I’m not confident in the process, especially since his permit application passed a zoning review.

The zoning handbook for R-4 states that:

“When a new dwelling or flat is erected that does not share a common division wall with an existing building or a building being constructed together with the new building, it shall have a side setback on each resulting free-standing side.”

“In the case of a building existing on or before the effective date of this title, with a non-conforming side setback, an extension or addition may be made to the building; provided, that the width of the existing side setback shall not be decreased; and provided further, that the width of the existing side setback shall be a minimum of two 2 ft.”

Pretty sure I’m in the right here, but it does me no good if the wall stays up. I want him to tear it down, start over and build it correctly. Should I take him to court? Let me know if this has happened to you, and what course of action you recommend.



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