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Code enforcement left a business card on my door today and a note that said please call. I'm sure if I had a violation I would have got a ticket or warning. I am hoping that they want to know if I charge or not. I don't charge so I hope there will be no issues. At the first of the month when I started to build, my neighbor was trying to preach to me. I finally made it clear I didn't want to hear it! I wonder if she called the city on me?
 

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ive been doing my haunt since 2004 and its only been the last 4 years ive ever had any one from the city stop by the first time it was code enforcement, I gave them a guide walk through, they where more interested in how I made the props than any thing else,, the only code thing they asked was weather I charged ,, told them no and they said I was good to go ,, if I charged I needed a permit.

the second year on Halloween night we had the police stop by about a hour before opening,, they asked if wee could open early because there was a huge line out front and it was out in the street lol.. we now open a 90 mins earlier on Halloween. needless to say we opened -) we cant see the entrance to the haunt from the house so had no idea the line was that large.. the officer did come back later that night ,, but brought there familys to go through the haunt,,, there regular visitors as well as other city employees.

the 3rd year we actually had the fire Marshal stop by.. when he say the fire extinguishers, no smoking signs, and the fact that we had a 100 foot water hose hocked up that could reach to the entrance or the exit depending on which way you went.. he grumbled and left..

the attitude of the fire maeshal gave me such a bad taste in my mouth that after Halloween was over I contacted my attorney and told him about it, found out some interesting info for my city. inless its a business the Fire marshal cant just walk on to your property and demand to go through things. private property as in my case they have to have a court order, aka a search warrant in order to even come on the property. they can however close down any thing they can see from the city street that they feel is a fire risk, though they have to put it in writing and you have 15 to 30 days to comply. instantly if they think its a big enough risk. my attorney said the best thing to do was exactly what I had done ,, give them a quick walk through show them the safety guards and escort them off the property..

last year we had no official visit from the city but did have members of the city council, the police and code enforcement bring there family by to go through the haunt..

Basic rule of thumb for home haunting:
Fire extinguishers
water hoses if available
no smoking signs
3 to 4 foot wide hallways
fire retardant on those things that need it
and if you can afford it.. low voltage lighting
 

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We live outside city limits so no city codes, but I am deffinately going to look into the county codes! And Hubby and I have been considering insurance at least for the 2 nights we are open. Thanks for the reminders, links, and info!
 

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Best way to play safe

In regards to home haunts the best thing to do is call your local fire department and ask to speak to the local marshal / chief / LT and invite them over before you open and tell them you want to know how to make your haunt as safe possible.
You say that to them and nine times out of ten you'll have a friend.
It shows you care, you want to learn from someone who knows with experience and just make them feel wanted there.
I know, I worked in a fire dept for several years and did pre opening walk throughs, inspections, investigations.
But still being on the other side now after all these years of building pro haunt sets I have yet to run into a fire marshal that didn't give us a hard time unless we deserved it over looking something on the pro level and with some of the charity house haunts that had high flow rates.
Home haunts are hard to shut down or fine for that matter unless your charging money.
Professional haunts are fair game due to the traffic flow and they're making money.
To have a home haunt walk through and get shut down you would have to something really really ludicrous to get get nabbed.
One thing I do remember, in the extremely ritzy neighborhoods of million dollar homes where they have retarded things neighborhood zone codes, like lawn codes / appearance codes that are enforced by the neighborhood home assembly mafia then those home haunts could be shut down for no reason what so ever.
I had that experience one time for a charity haunt we helped.
 

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Why no black plastic hauntiholic? I've used 6mil the last 2 years for most walls and it worked well? This is builders grade and I'm sure sure is flame resistant. Anybody know?
 

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So who would you have to contact in the city goverment/city hall to discuss this info with them? I am in Tennessee, just need a place to start and I can go from there.
What I do is contact the local city council and ask them for updated building and fire code pertaining to seasonal events. This helps me stay within the realm of legality, and covers me in the case of any injury.
 

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Most Christmas displays do not involve a walk through with walls and rooms.
Nor do most yard haunts, since the overwhelming majority employ a graveyard theme, which inherently don't employ walk through walls and rooms.

Yes, there are a handful of yard haunters who start wanting to go in the haunted house direction - and the same scenario then plays out: they go through a brief phase of starting to put up temporary "walls," then quickly realize adding that infrastructure is a big pain and makes their existing haunt look crappy. They then inevitably end up either trashing their haunted mansion fantasy or -- determined do it -- change their whole Halloween theme and move everything indoors.

In closing, Colorado may well be the place where we see the first litigation resulting from public safety officials overreaching, when they attempt to micromanage how private property owners decorate for the holidays.
 

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So who would you have to contact in the city goverment/city hall to discuss this info with them? I am in Tennessee, just need a place to start and I can go from there.
I'd talk to both your city hall/administration, and the fire department.*While the requirements may be interrelated, each side/group tends to leave out small stuff that may not fall into their jurisdiction. I'd also talk to your insurance company to see what, if any, additional coverage may be needed, and or if they have approval requirements of their own.
CYA, and don't take anything for granted.
 

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I hadn't even considered the city shutting us down, we just do our front yard. Give out candy, scare some kids. I don't think anything we put out should cause any problems but it's good to know. Anyone actually been shut down?
 

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Hi all. I was reading through this and this year I was contemplating jumping from a yard haunt/display to a garage haunt. But I am seriously considering just nixing that idea and making my yard/driveway bigger and more packed with stuff rather than trying the garage thing. I think it would be fun to have the inside haunt rather than just a yard display, but like another poster mentioned, after the initial shock of what it takes to build a safe garage haunt most people figure its not worth it. I really like getting some scares in and its hard if kids know that you are standing up near the front door. Last year I had a witch scene in the front part of my garage and as the TOTs walked by to go up to the front door I came out of the garage where I was hidden. It was a great scare, and definitely alot of fun. THen I thought, well if that was fun, it sure would be alot of fun to build a haunted house in the garage. Ive been going back and forth and the liability factor kind of bums me out. I know alot of people do it, but still it only takes one kid getting hurt. Just some thoughts, I think that with the big driveway I have I might want to utilize that and make a cool trail that comes up to the house and maybe make the garage like a theatrical scene (like a witch shack or Vampires lair) and that would get my geek jones to make that kind of thing out but still not open myself up to problems. I could have actors in the driveway behind a masoleum, witches shack and fake tree. Just thinkin and drinkin. THanks All my awesome Haunt fiends.
 

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FWIW, I recently moved out of Fort Collins, which I see is the genesis of this thread, and the city government is super easy to deal with. I would suspect that the issues were -- as indicated -- the result of frats pushing the envelope too much. Otherwise, the city never seemed to sweat much, generally speaking.

Now for a few caveats: (1) I didn't have a walk-through and didn't charge anything; and (2) I can't caution everyone enough to both check your local laws and have adequate insurance (which you've verified is adequate). Both are critical, as the rules change once you invite folks onto your property (as opposed to simply owning the home), especially if you're charging anything.

Cheers!
 

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^I believe the answer is that charging could put you into the category of a professional haunt, which means it's a business, which means the rules of business in terms of licensing and insurance apply.
 
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