Construction Management Engineering

How To Report Illegal Construction: The Ultimate Guide

How To Report Illegal Construction

Construction work includes many guidelines and licensures that workers must abide by in order to maintain the safety and integrity of a worksite. There are a variety of reasons that one might want to report illegal construction work. Illegal construction can range in varying degrees of severity from something as inconvenient as an after-hours noise complaint to illegal unlicensed contracting.

Before taking any action, you must determine what kind of violation is occurring on the construction site. After that, you will be able to report any relevant information to the correct agency. Most illegal construction reporting occurs by filling out online forms, calling 311 numbers for building complaints, or contacting governmental organizations.

Report safety concerns

If a construction site seems unsafe or is operating without a permit, you may find yourself wondering where to report this information to. Your city may have a 311 number to call with this information.

311 numbers are usually a good way for citizens to report non-emergency violations. If there is a severe violation that puts public health in danger, call 911 instead. File a health and safety complaint online through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a subset of the U.S. Department of Labor. You may also want to call, fax, or visit your local OSHA office to file a safety complaint.

Another organization in charge of overseeing building safety is the Department of Buildings (DOB). The DOB is in most major metropolitan cities and is responsible for enforcing building codes, zoning regulations, building permits, licenses, and much more.

Report construction noise

In most cities and suburban areas, there are strict construction ordinances hours that worksites must abide by. Most places have an online form that allows you to report illegal construction noise. 

Despite this, controlling construction noise is a major obstacle that contractors face. Excessive noise could be caused by older equipment that may need updating. The contracting group may also be using a method of construction that is exceptionally loud. Lately, contractors have begun to develop alternative methods of construction in an attempt to disturb the surrounding community less. If you think that a construction site is improperly following noise guidelines.

Report a lack of building permits

Building permits are required for any major construction work. They ensure that people and the land are treated with safety measures. Construction work that requires a permit includes new construction, building demolition, additions, erections of signs/awnings, and construction of decks, sheds, etc.

Additional permits must be obtained for other structures such as dumpsters. If the construction project in question includes plumbing work such as connections to water pain, pipework, and sewage infrastructure, additional permits for a water/sewer excavation permit must be obtained. Penalties for avoiding permits often result in a hefty fine that can vary based on the city or county government.

Building permits benefit not only the individual constructing a structure but also benefit the surrounding community. Having a building permit ensures that the structure is in compliance with state and local codes. Especially in the case where the structure is a commercial building, building permits serve an essential role in preserving the safety of employees and customers.

Nobody wants a situation where their commercial building fails to meet safety regulations, and somebody gets hurt in the process.

Most cities require a plan to be submitted before building plans can be approved. For example, because of planning reports in Corvallis, Oregon, illegal construction is becoming less of an issue. The system in Corvallis, Oregon, requires applications for land development. The City of Corvallis Planning Department is responsible for reviewing and accepting construction applications.

Where to report the use of illegal aliens in construction?

A resource that you may consider reporting unlicensed construction work to is the Contractors State License Board. According to the CSLB, the best way to report illegal contracting to them is through their SWIFT lead referral form. To file a complaint, the unlicensed employee in question must be actively working on a construction project priced at $500 or more.

The use of unlicensed construction workers is common in many places across the United States. In states with high populations of undocumented immigrants, it is common for these individuals to seek out construction employment. Not all unlicensed construction workers are undocumented immigrants, but many are. Most people probably don’t know off the top of their heads where to report the use of illegal alien construction workers.

Reporting illegal construction employment to ICE

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigates employers involved in criminal activity such as illegal employment. Their goal is to increase the integrity of the U.S. immigration system and encourage legal immigration.

Illegal immigration tends to result in unlawful activity such as undocumented employment. This can negatively impact local, state, and federal governments because illegal employees avoid paying state and federal taxes. If you suspect undocumented employment, call ICE at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE to report any potential concerns. You may also report illegal employment online on the ICE website

To give a specific example, if you find yourself wondering how to report illegals working on a construction site in Myrtle Beach, SC, there are certain measures to take. The foremost step is to fill out the ICE tip form, sending the violation complaint directly to the federal level. You may also contact local authorities if you feel the need to expedite the site inspection process.

Why is the use of unlicensed workers a bad thing?

Unlicensed construction workers are a huge liability for several reasons. Most of these workers do not have the official education and licensures that ensure their work is safe and of quality.

Most licensed contractors carry fairly hefty insurance plans that protect the customer and the contractor. If the construction projects fail to go as planned, having a licensed construction crew on the job gives added layers of protection to all parties involved. 

Additionally, employing any unlicensed workers that are undocumented immigrants can be detrimental to the employer. Employers are required by law to complete I9 verification for all of their workers on their payroll. The workplace has transformed into a place of enforcement for immigration law. Employers who avoid citizenship verification measures may be subject to fines or other forms of punishment, depending on the severity of the activity.

Where is illegal construction prominent?

Illegal construction happens everywhere, but it is especially common in metropolitan areas. Keep an eye out for illegal activity and suspicious workplaces, especially in larger cities where illegal construction is an ongoing public issue. In major cities, you should report illegal construction as a part of your civic duty to maintain the integrity of the construction industry. Other less populated counties might not have a streamlined online form available due to fewer violation claims.

Step by step guide to reporting illegal construction in different areas:

Finding out where to report illegal construction can be confusing. Listed below are instructions to assist you in reporting illegal construction in metropolitan areas where rates tend to be high:

Who do I report illegal construction to in Washington DC?

Step 1: Look for a publicly posted building permit. Washington D.C. building codes require that a construction site posts the permits openly where the public can view them.

Step 2: If there is no publicly posted building permit, you may want to look at the SCOUT consolidated data system. This system allows search by permit or address.
Step 3: Officially report illegal construction in Washington DC by submitting an illegal construction inspection request form. Other methods of reporting include emailing or calling HPO at (202) 442-7600.

How do I report illegal construction in Oakland Park, FL?

Step 1: Search online through the City of Oakland Park to verify that the construction site is lacking a building permit.

Step 2: Report illegal construction in Oakland Park through the city website. There is a section specifically about reporting work without permits. Illegal construction reports in the Oakland Park area are not uncommon.

How do I report illegal construction in Los Angeles?

Step 1: Determine if the contract is valued at or over $500. Any work being done for less than $500 does not require a permit in LA.

Step 2: Contact the SWIFT team in the correct county that the violation is in. Use the Building Permit Violation Referral form to notify SWIFT.

Step 3: To report illegal construction to Public Works of Los Angeles, there is a convenient online form where you can submit a report. 

How do I report illegal construction in NYC?

Step 1: Determine what kind of illegal construction needs to be reported.

Step 2: Report illegal or unsafe working conditions by calling 311 or visiting the 311online website.

Step 3: You may want to report the illegal construction to your local municipal corporation of the city. There, they can help you file a complaint in person.

How do I report illegal construction in San Francisco?

Step 1: Check the San Francisco planning website and to see what construction or apartment code violations the city enforces.

Step 2: File your complaint through the City and County of San Francisco website.

Step 3: To complete the complaint, you will need the exact property address and a specific statement describing the violation.

How do I report illegal construction in Covina, CA?

Step 1: Verify the permits for construction by calling (626) 939-8425.

Step 2: If the construction is operating illegally, report the issue through the city website.

Step 3: Opt for the feature that allows you to receive updates on your request.

How do I report illegal construction in Myrtle Beach, SC?

Step 1: Consult the city’s rules for new construction. Because Myrtle Beach is a coastal city, there may be unusual regulations to prevent flooding and overdevelopment.

Step 2: Report the violation to the Horry County local government.

How do I report illegal construction in Portland, Oregon?

Step 1: Review the enforcement fees and penalty schedule to ensure that you report an active violation.

Step 2: Make a City of Portland online account and report the violation.

Step 3: Check on the reported violation through the Portland Maps website.

How do I report illegal construction in Monterey County, CA?

Step 1: Consult the City of Monterey website to verify if the complaint is an actual violation.

Step 2: Access reporting forms on the county government website.

How do I report illegal construction in Broomfield, CO?

Step 1: Record the address of the violation and a detailed description of the illegal activity 

Step 2: Search the construction site on the public access permit search.

Step 3: Report a violation through the City and County of Broomfield public website.

How do I report illegal construction in Oakland, CA?

Step 1: Gather information about the construction site so that you may make an informed and accurate report.

Step 2: Access the complaints and code enforcement services to submit a report.

Reporting illegal construction is up to you.

Many countries and cities rely on citizen reporting to catch illegal construction. The negative impact that illegal and unlicensed construction has on each community can be significant. By preventing the practice of unlawful construction, you maintain the integrity of the construction and permitting industries.