Are building permits always required when filling empty pads?

I was told that this is accurate but also that everybody ignores it. A city here told me that I would be required to improve the park to the current MH park standards with any home brought in. Is this accurate that a build permit is always required? A build permit would also require the owner to upgrade the park to current MH laws that might include bigger pads, new lighting, etc. Is this accurate?

The answer is dependant on the local building codes. Each city,county.state would likley have it’s own codes.

That’s a classic problem that we frequently face. A mobile home park is a use. It is not a structure. When the laws change and it becomes non-conforming, the use becomes grandfathered, That means that mobile homes can freely move in and out without restriction, because the use of the park is as a parking lot for mobile homes. The inspector is mistaking a mobile home park for a structure. If a structure becomes grandfathered, you are not allowed to make additions, or replace it if it burns down. You need to hire a decent municipal attorney and get this misconception corrected. We had three of these cases last year and we crushed the city without even having to go to court. But you can only solve these type of issues in an attorney-to-attorney strategy. You have to go above the inspector, and the city attorney will not talk to a non-attorney and listen.

Thank you Greg and Frank. Great answers.

Frank,Would this also cover my butt if I wanted to resurface the pads and fix stuff in my park? Could they enforce building rules on me in that case?

A grandfathered use means that you have the right to park “X” numbers of mobile homes in the parking lot. Unless there was an ordinance dated prior to the date the park was built, there is nothing that would preclude you from making any upgrades to any lot (just as a parking lot can be re-paved without restriction as long as you don’t increase the number of lots). However, private utilities would be a different story, potentially, as those could indeed lose their grandfathering if you have to replace them. They are not a use, they are a structure. Pay a decent attorney (municipal lawyer only) to talk to the city attorney and see what you can work out. You might get the job done in an hour of time (one call). But don’t let the inspector and/or city manager push you around without pushing back with a municipal lawyer. We have never lost a case like that. Why? Because, by law, the park is in the right almost all of the time.