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A man's home is his castle, except in England

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by The Great Snook, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    First, I find the low price of the house telling as well. Having been there a couple of times I am not overly impressed by the general building standards in Britain (my sis studied in Wales; she had a flying carpet in her room because of the draft coming from below through the floor). If the house is cheaper than average ... :eek:

    Second, in case he'd have gotten his permit, had he only asked, I don't expect a demolition order. It would only be about lack of mere formalities - to then let it cost him his house would be out of proportion to the benefit of law enforcement. To apply the law zealously would be excessive. Presumably the argument is similar in Anglo-Saxon law. However, I do not think that is the case here.

    Third, there is the question of local zoning. He is a farmer, presumably his property was designated for agricultural use, and not as a residential area. Normally such regulations are set up locally by regional councils (I presume in England at the *'shire level?), by democratic mandate and are thus democratically legitimated. That alone is a good reason to enforce.

    Fourth, I wouldn't dismiss building regulations so readily. In France, as well as in Germany for instance, there are regional rules in place to preserve the style of the region, resulting in building materials and roofing to be used and so forth. Everyone who has ever see what tourism does to landscapes will probably at least comprehend this. The idea is to ensure that the region remains worth visiting again.
    Question is how zealously you regulate and enforce. In my home town they have deregulated, with devastating consequences. The newly built up areas look like a bad joke, giant houses on quite smallish pieces of land, an alpine home next to a western style wood house next to an 'mediterranean style' house and other follies. They certainly had too much regulation before, but certainly way too little afterwards.
     
  2. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    There's a lot more that goes into zoning than simply industrial v. residential use. For instance, is the area a heritage farm, or other historical preserve? Are there sensitive environmental concerns, such as wetlands? Is a certain amount of open space required to balance out a concentration of development nearby, for water runoff concerns?

    What I find most amazing about this whole story is that he was able to conceal the house for 4 years. How is it that NO ONE complained about the stack of haybales for that long?!

    While I love the house, the idea that someone be allowed to circumvent the rules that have been put in place for the common good - and that the majority of other people somehow manage to follow! - disgusts me.
     
  3. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    Rally,
    Of course. You're quite right.
     
  4. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I dislike lawbreakers on general principles. However, at first glance he does not seem to be hurting anyone. I doubt this will lower the property values of the surrounding properties. I am sure that if he's willing to put that much effort into building this thing and living in it, it's not unsafe. Therefore . . . .

    The only thing he's guilty of is finding a silly loophole in the law and trying to exploit it. If a filthy rapist does this and gets away with it, people say "oh, loopholes aren't bad, they're there to protect all of us!" So what's the difference here? Why shouldn't he, an average citizen, be allowed to use loopholes too? His use of haybales to reach a 4 year mark without anyone complaining about the castle is hilarious! If the government or some other entity is attempting to use "letter of the law" arguments to penalize him (it would be a shame to tear it down, BTW, a fine is the worst they should do IMHO) then I'd say he's got a pretty good response, if "letter of the law" nit-pickiness is the way his opponents want to go.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  5. Ragusa

    Ragusa Eternal Halfling Paladin Veteran

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    LKD,
    don't kid yourself. It's exactly the opposite, when a rapist uses a loophole, people do call to close it and for harsher laws. That is almost reflexively so. It's a canard that the majority thinks as you describe. They do not. Also, that is criminal law, where socially harmful behaviour is sanctioned and the perpetrator as a person punished. The perpetrator in a rape or any other crime is not exercising a right, quite to the contrary. The reason why criminals can abuse loopholes is that criminal law has to stand before the crime because criminal law is the single most harsh sanction in the book. You don't want a legal system where you do something, people decide they don't like it, and criminalise your act retroactively and send you to jail.

    Also, you're making a false analogy to the house case. These two cases aren't alike.

    Building law is something different altogether, a different field of law, with different principles. The case you ought to have in mind for an analogy is that of a falsely parked car that's being towed away.
    The builder is exercising a right, but a right put under limits. So the man in this case presumably violates a zoning law. That is far less socially harmful, and thus he isn't punished. Instead corrective measures are taken to restore a condition that complies with the law, if necessary by coercion. The corrective measures may have the effect of punishment, yes, they indeed cost the builder a lot of money, but what is being addressed is the 'disturbance' - a house without permit. As it is a real house, inevitably by it's destruction because you move (unreal?) houses only in America.

    PS: I think the four year rule represents a thought that we in German call 'Bestandsschutz'. It can be described as an idea along the line that an owner of something that has stood unchallenged for so long, ought to have good faith in that his property can't be challenged after that, because there was ample time to do so. Alas, the deception the guy engaged in to hide his home building means he doesn't deserve the benefit of that rule, because he actively prevented everyone from gaining knowledge, and thus prevented them from challenging. He didn't act in good faith. The day he disclosed his house to the public will procedurally probably be considered day one of the four years. He likely will not 'exploit a loophole'.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2008
  6. LKD Gems: 31/31
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    I was deliberately using two very different kinds of cases for effect. My point was that in criminal cases loopholes do exist. In this non-criminal case, why shouldn't the fellow try to exploit a loophole? Especially when in the eyes of the general, lay public he has injured no one.

    He likely will not get away with it, as you are right -- it could be argued quite successfully that he did not act in good faith. It still seems like a shame to tear it down just to satisfy the demands of a zoning law, though. So I'm getting a vision of the Soup Nazi saying "no loophole for you!"
     
  7. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    I think that as long as it meets all required standards for safety and is not in an unsuitable location, it could be allowed to stand with a fine or some such. If it's not safe, however, it should be torn down.
     
  8. The Great Snook Gems: 31/31
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    Common good, may be a debateable point.
     
  9. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    Maybe so - but it's still the law of the land, put in place according to long-established practices. Either get the rule changed (again, according to the established mechanisms), or follow it. Don't stand there and flaunt your disobedience and expet to be rewarded for it.
     
  10. T2Bruno

    T2Bruno The only source of knowledge is experience Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    I'm with Rally on this one. The man erected the hay bales with the intent to deceive and hide a unlawful act -- I think that trumps just about everything else.
     
  11. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
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    The problem with that line of arguement is that the established mechanisms aren't very good. How can this guy go about getting the laws changed? Well, I suppose he could write letters to the council, but there's no reason why they should have to pay the slightest heed. He could vote for someone once every four years if they happened to make these laws some kind of issue - but they probably won't. Possibly he could hire a lawyer and go fight it out in a court, but unless he's got significant amounts of money to burn, that's probably not practical, and all that approach really says is that the rich can change laws and the poor are powerless.

    So what exactly are these established mechanisms for getting the laws changed that you're talking about?
     
  12. Chandos the Red

    Chandos the Red This Wheel's on Fire

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    You become an activist, or an advocate for a policy that you believe is needed. You work at the grassroots level, with the local media and the local officials. But really it's up to the citizens at the grassroots level to push for the changes they want. You start by canvasing your local area; take up a petition, and then pay a visit to your local townhall meeting with enough signatures to get their attention. Just about evey local government I know of, at least here, gives citizens an opportunity to speak out at local meetings. However, in this instance, this guy may have a difficult time getting others to go along with him, since he's demostrated that he's an arrogant, dishonest sneak to the rest of his community.
     
  13. Carcaroth

    Carcaroth I call on the priests, saints and dancin' girls ★ SPS Account Holder

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    Or alternatively he could just have applied for planning permission in the first place and gone through the proper channels, argued the case with a decent set or architects for why it would be enhancing the area, and not having a negative impact. As he didn't I can only presume he realised he didn't stand a chance in hell of getting planning permission.

    Although I don't know the size of the place, I would estimate £500,000 for the build would be closer to the mark so it might be a typo in the article.

    New-build costs in the UK are about £100-£120 per square foot or ~ £1000 to £1200 per square meter.
     
  14. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
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    Chandos:
    See, that's not actually a mechanism or part fo the system - it's the equivalent of letter writing, only perhaps a little more like yelling at them in the hope that they'll do something. Of course, they can just close the window and block you out. They have no obligation to consider the situation and change things if the current set of rules are wrong.

    Trying to get the council to do anything is nearly impossible (here, at least. I doubt it's purely a local phenonema, though seeing how our mayor is more often in court answering corruption charges these days that actually governing, perhaps our council is a little more terrible than most), especially if the thing you care about isn't really a concern to anyone else. Petitioning the council is certainly a way of producing change, but as they don't have to listen to you and there's no surefire way of getting the support you need, I don't think it's a great method. Probably the best method present, but there's still nothing inherent in the system that allows the average citizen to make changes.

    (I mean, come on - the council here can't even agree that it's a bad thing that the egg farm next door uses massive industrial strength fans to blow huge amount of feathers and dust and other rubbish into our yard and house. And it took them how long to fix the 'bus stop' across the street? The council's so bureaucratic and removed from people that they're worthless as far as the average person's problems are concerned).

    Anyway, I completely agree that if it was a simple and sensible matter to get approval for his house - and assuming that his house meets regulations and won't tumble down in a few years - that the guy shouldn't just gone through the right channels. I just can't imagine that he would've gone through all that effort to build his dream house and hide it behind a haystack if it wasn't decently built and if it was legal to do so. Without all the information I'm just speculating though
     
  15. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Building regulations are there for a reason. Where the safety of people is concerned, the legislative has the right to make laws and the government has the right to make particular enactments and enforce applicable regulations in order to make sure that buildings comply with safety standards, do not infringe on the rights of the proprietors of neighbouring parcels of land, and, if such a requirement is justifiable, that they compose well into the existing architectonical pattern of the neighbourhood. Erecting a building which is prone to collapse or a chimney that fogs the neighbourhood, or a noisy workshop in a housing district, or overshadowing the neighbour's windows, or preventing access to roads - all these are not allowed even if you are the proprietor of the land, and rightfully so. For this reason it is necessary to issue permits and if someone wants to assert his perceived by deliberately avoiding the process of obtaining the permit and not even seeking a retroactive, sanatory permit (i.e. allowing you to rectify the legal situation of your building without tearing it down and erecting it anew), in such a case steps need to be taken to assert compliance.

    I've worked for a short time in estate law. I really wish people would just comply with the rules, obey the binding regulations which exist for a reason and stop trying to cheat their neighbours and authorities.
     
  16. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    This (except for the last paragraph here) and your previous post were both spoken in true anarchist fashion, Aik. Mind if I paraphrase? "That rule doesn't work for me so I'm not going to follow it, so there! And it's much too inconvenient to try to change the rules, so I'm just going to ignore them. Rules I don't like don't apply to me."

    ASIDE: I realize that you, personally, are exceedingly well-reasoned in your anarchist arguments. That's my interpretation of the garden variety anarchism that's based more in laziness, selfishness, and an unfulfilled need for rebellion than anything else. Unfortunately, that's what's prevalent in modern anarchist movements, in my experience.

    Sorry, but no. Life doesn't work that way, at least, not yet. When society really does devolve into a free-for-all of everyone looking out only for themselves, I have a feeling that these petulant whiners will be the first ones crying out for some degree of societal control. :rolleyes:

    Note the piece that I highlighted in what I quoted. If the majority of people in a community are satisfied with the rules as they stand, why should the governing body be moved to change them? Remember Spock's mantra, "The needs of the many outweigh the good of the few."

    I've had to deal with zoning issues and building permits very recently. The process was bureaucratic and inconvenient and annoying to be sure, but above all it was open and clear-cut and FAIR. Now that everything is above-board, we don't have to worry about difficulties down the line when it comes time to sell our house, or make other improvements. Sure, we could have put up our shed without getting the required permit, as many people do, but making a little effort up front is likely to save us many headaches in the future.

    You have to feed the pot to play a hand of poker, and you have to live by the rules to get along in society.
     
  17. The Shaman Gems: 28/31
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    That is definitely a valid point, of course. If the man has tried to exploit a loophole in the law, he should not be dismayed to learn that the authorities intend to act against him regardless. Still, I think that if the structure conforms to the necessary safety measures, he should be allowed to have it legalized - with some penalty, perhaps.
     
  18. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    Yeah, though he should have the ability, not the effect. If he refuses to file a petition to legalise it, it's his problem if he gets it torn down for lack of compliance with the law.
     
  19. Aikanaro Gems: 31/31
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    I don't want to get drawn into an arguement on anarchism or my tendency towards it, but I feel that you're seriously mischaracterising my position.

    I would paraphrase/summarise my position as 'The current system allows normal people almost no say in how they are governed. Ideally we would have a system where this is true, but as it is not and unlikely to happen any time soon, make do as best you can by what means you personally deem justified.'

    I have no intention of speaking for anarchism or anarchists as a whole - it's such a varied group that there's no sense in doing it, but I feel you're misrepresenting most of them as well.

    As for the utilitarian arguement - I'm not going to disagree, but I can't throw my wholehearted support behind it either. It has to be tempered by another nice little phrase (I think I picked this up from some neo-pagan website); 'If it hurts no-one, do what you will.' I'm even tempted to change that to 'If it hurts no-one, not including yourself, do what you will.' - but that's nowhere near as snappy.

    (Oh AoDA, why did I ever leave you? :bang: )
     
  20. Wordplay Gems: 29/31
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    Law does not exist just for the sake of being a law, but the reason behind it. In this case the reason it to protect people and property from damages caused by unplanned construction, so I fail to see what kind of a damage this building could cause -especially since it looks, outwards, well build. Knocking it down would be vandalism and the builder himself, certainly, wouldn't be the jackass.

    Hence they are sending the inspector to check it out. All the guy has to do is to show him how good work he has done and I'm sure the inspector will give him clean papers. After that the bureocrats will have hard time explaining why a well-build building in middle of nowhere should be destroyed.
     
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