I bought a house 10 years ago. Now, I'm thinking of building a home addition but I'm having some issues. The border of the land doesn't give me enough clearance to make the home addition flash with the house. I need 14 feet clearance from the neighbors border.

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I talked to my neighbor 1 and he said that whoever owned his house he also owned my house and he split the land and sold my house separately. Now, how was he able to sell my house with wrong land measurement, not giving enough clearance from my house? The code is to have at least 14 feet. My house is maybe 8 feet away from the border. I understand that in the time he sold my house the code might have been different. But since the village changed the code they should have taken into account situations like this and offer compensation to those who will be affected by this.

My neighbor 1 doesn't want to sell his 4 feet of his land to me so far. Shouldn't the village compensate me or him for allowing the sale with wrong measurement or for changing the rule? Is there any law I can apply and pursue the correction of the land dimensions?

Note: The neighbor on the right side has enough clearance so I have a suspicion that the rule might have been in place in those days.

1 Answer 1


Shouldn't the village compensate me or him for allowing the sale with wrong measurement or for changing the rule?


It is very common for local governments to make changes to zoning ordinances, building codes, etc, that have the effect of restricting the way that property can be used. In most cases this is not considered to be a "taking" for the purposes of the Fifth Amendment, even if it reduces the value of the property, and the government does not have to compensate the property owner. See for instance Agins v. City of Tiburon, 447 U.S. 255 (1980). Roughly speaking, the Takings Clause only applies if the regulations are so restrictive that the land cannot really be used at all. Here you are still perfectly able to use the existing house, and it sounds like you can even build an addition - you just can't build in the exact way that you want.

You'll either need to design your addition to comply with the current setback rules, or see if you can get the village to approve a variance.

  • What about the existing house? How come it is OK that it's not far away enough from the border? If it's OK for the existing house not to have the clearance why should the addition?
    – Grasper
    Jun 1, 2022 at 14:31
  • In that space between border and the house there is a driveway going to the garage. The problem is that this driveway goes into the neighbor's land. It's impossible to use the driveway without touching his land. This isn't an issue? Can he complain?
    – Grasper
    Jun 1, 2022 at 14:34
  • 1
    If the regulation came into effect after the property was divided and the house was built, then it is probably "grandfathered". So the existing house can stay as it is, even though not compliant with the new code. You don't have to relocate the house, or tear it down and rebuild it. However, new construction, such as your addition, does have to comply. Jun 1, 2022 at 14:42
  • @Grasper: The driveway is a separate question. Most likely that is an easement; the neighbor owns the land that the driveway crosses, but you as the owner of the adjoining property have the right to pass over it to access your land. This might be an express easement written into the deed for your land. Or it could be an implied easement that's assumed to exist because when the property was split, there had to be some way to access the new piece, backed up by the fact that you and previous owners of your house have been using the driveway up until now. Jun 1, 2022 at 14:48

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