Home Buying in 60647>Question Details

Amanda Diete…, Home Buyer in Chicago, IL

Where can I find documents from the city to show that a coach house was grandfathered into the property?

Asked by Amanda Dieterich, Chicago, IL Wed Feb 3, 2010

I am looking to purchase a property with a coach house. It is a corner lot. Is it normal for a coach house to have a separate address? I noticed that the property I am looking to purchase as a coach house with a different address number and it is recognized by USPS and on the city site however, it is not recognized on the CCAssessor site when we try to figure out if the property had two separate pins.

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There actually won't be any "documents" per se. You can go to city hall and find out when the property was built. If it was built prior to the building code (something like 1926 or 1928), it will be "grandfathered" in as non-conforming use. However - and here is the caveat - if the property burns down and cannot be repaired, you most likely will not be able to rebuild it because current building code won't allow it. So it can be difficult to get financing.

Sometimes on a corner lot, the tax assessor will show one address while the post office will show another. No biggie. The property that sits on the front of the lot should have a different pin.

If you have a real estate atty that you're working with, they can properly advise you about the grandfathering issue and will be able to pull a title search to check out pin #'s etc. Actually - if you submit an offer, all that "discovery" can be done during the atty review period. The seller should also be able to provide it too.
Web Reference: http://mnack.net
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
All the advice posted seems correct. I wanted to point out specifically you can get to Cook County Assessor plot maps by going to cookcountyassessor.com, then click on Search>>>Interactive Mapping. This will open a new browser window for CCAO Parcel Mapping. You can search by address with this tool. It will show satellite images with parcels mapped in green, and the PIN number identified. This way you can tell which parcel numbers correspond to the plot(s) you are looking for.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed May 5, 2010
Sorry, forgot to mention. It does not need it's own pin to be legal. Just as a two fat doesn't need two pins.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010

You can request a freedom of information request with the department of buildings. Simply fill out the form and request number of dwelling units. If the coach house has a kitchen and bathroom, it will be a dwelling unit. If the FOI comes back with a count that does not reconcile with the actual number, you will have to request a zoning opinion. It only needs to be "granfathered" in if current zoning does not allow for the coach house. Furthermore, just because it is allowed and noted, doesn't mean it doesn't have potential violations. The FOI can also request existing violations on a property. You can get the FOI from the Department of Buildings website.

I recommend working with an attorney familiar with zoning to help you with verification, if verification is possible. Best of Luck.

Wayne Beals
Keller Williams Chicago Consulting Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
I already checked with the deed's office. All the legal language on the deed basically have to do with the lot size, location, etc. Nothing on the structure.

Mary, I will go to the city hall and see what I can dig up. Ironically, the property has only one PIN no. However, the PIN no. description only reflected ONE property on the lot. Because this lot is larger than standard Chicago lot and the coach house has its own entrance on another street, I am thinking the assessors never really connected the two properties together when they verified the info. But when I did a search of the plat survey on the city and county site for that PIN, it includes the rear coach house when I saw the map.

Phillip, thank you for your suggestion. I will check the zoning office under the coach house's address and see what comes up for the zoning.

Thank you all for trying to help!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
The seller and/or the agent should know the answers. If not, I would be careful,but as stated, once you agree on price & terms and get into the attorney review, you can do the homework and if you do not like the result you can walk away. Part of the process also requires a Zoning Certificate from the city where they tell you how many legal units exist on the property. If you want 2, but the city says there is only one, then you can also walk away.
Be careful with couch houses. The city is trying to get rid of them whenever they can.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
Have you tried the Cook County Recorder Of Deeds?
Web Reference: http://www.VassiSaviano.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 3, 2010
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