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Old 01-05-2010, 07:20 PM   #57
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OK, I lied. I said that I wasn't going to post any more event news.

Today, they denied my permit. We have to re-engineer both the building and the foundation and re-submit. The extra 4 square feet is "unacceptable". "If you make an exception for you, the next guy will want 6 more square feet and then 8 - where could we draw the line?"

I went ballastic. Then I completely calmed down and called to make an appointment to meet with the head of the building department. No one could arrange that for me. So I called again to meet with the assist head of the building department. No one could arrange that either So I drove to the office, announced myself to the receptionist, telling her who I was and that I was going to wait in their waiting area until the head or the assistant head of the department could meet with me - if it took the rest of the week. Within 5 minutes, the assistant showed up and I calmly and completely explained my situation. He told me that he might not be able to get back with me today, even when I told him that the building was in fabrication. I left and called one of my Town councilman, asking for his help. Within an hour, the head of the department had called me and they were all trying to work things out with me.

The bottom line is that, after 8 preliminary reviews of the same dimensions, they are going to make me re-engineer the building. I have to have 1.5" cut off one side. BTW, my math says that's too much but I'm not quibbling over inches at this point. They will accept certified letters from the steel and concrete engineers, saying that the size reduction does not compromise the engineering on the building. They used a "r" word to describe that but I cannot remember it. I'm going to be my own electrician and several new requirements surfaced for that, too. I should find out tomorrow whether I'll get new building diagrams or whether, with the certified letters, I'll be able "red line" all of the length dimension annotations to 46' 10.5" I'll handle all of the new electrician requirements at the same time. I'm the homeowner but they need a copy of my driver's license... among several other things.

After we get this all in progress, the head of the department and I are going to meet for lunch, to go over the whole matter. By the way, the plan approver that I've been working with got reamed out for doing any preliminary reviews with me. When I complained bitterly that if it wasn't for preliminary reviews, this project really would have been in the toilet, they told me that was their "policy." I'm wringing my hands right now, just waiting to have THAT conversation with the head of the department. I originally suggested that we sit down over a beer and discuss the matter. He told me "my whole staff is oriented towards helping the homeowners." I told him we'd better make it two beers.

So far, the project has slipped another week, It is going to cost me at least $180 more and that figures no charges from stopping the in-progress fabrication or a completely new engineering diagrams.

Help the homeowners .....my patuty
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Old 01-05-2010, 08:43 PM   #58
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This sounds like a graft deal once again.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:07 PM   #59
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This sounds like a graft deal once again.
If it is, I still haven't figured it out. Today, I dealt with several members of the staff again. If they want money, there isn't even a hint of that.

I have have another $1,000 in re-engineering everything and the delay in construction is now another 2 weeks. I'm 35% over budget since I started. They have hinted that they might require a re-survey of the property, even though I provided the original survey. I have to be 6 feet from the boundary (and I'm 15). Whether they call for a new survey ($600 dollars and 3 more weeks delay) will not be established until they do a "pre-drainage" inspection - after the forms are in the ground. I cannot even call to schedule the actual forms inspection until after I have a successful completion. of the pre-drainage. I called to the assistant of the department today (who manages the inspectors) to go over exactly what is required for the pre-drainage inspection. He hung up on me before we into those specifics.

I can see that I'm trying to manage this process and that it cannot be managed. It will happen when it happens, if it ever does.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:26 PM   #60
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In my case (I found out years later), I was new to town and they were leary about asking me for the $2,000. They did and I went to the city manager and mayor who I found out later were in on the deal. They did the same thing in making an example to get others later on to go with the program. Have you considered hiring a local general contractor who in friends with them to "handle" things. They can keep you from doing anything for a real long time. Even if they are wrong, they can delay and delay which is a win for them. Hiring a lawyer and fighting it our only insures years of delay and no cost to them. GOOD LUCK
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Old 01-08-2010, 08:26 AM   #61
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In my case (I found out years later), I was new to town and they were leary about asking me for the $2,000. They did and I went to the city manager and mayor who I found out later were in on the deal. They did the same thing in making an example to get others later on to go with the program. Have you considered hiring a local general contractor who in friends with them to "handle" things. They can keep you from doing anything for a real long time. Even if they are wrong, they can delay and delay which is a win for them. Hiring a lawyer and fighting it our only insures years of delay and no cost to them. GOOD LUCK
That has been my problem. The building manufacturer only has one local contractor that is "authorized" to put up their buidlings and I'm on my own to resolve problems with the building if I use someone else. In retrospect, that should have been a red flag not to do business with that manufacturer. But I was coming off a disaster with a local building manufacturer who had told me that he had done work with the Town before. I went to the Town and specifically asked them about the local building guy and whether they had had successful projects with him. They said "yes, we've worked with him a lot." Now, after I fired him because he couldn't meet their requirements, they told me candidly that they had all kinds of problems with him not doing what he was supposed to do. It was just one more thing for me to be furious with the Town about.

In my meeting with the assistant manager of the department yesterday, I asked him about the inspection process and told him that I had little confidence in my general contractor being able to meet the Town's requirement without my pushing him to do so. I wanted to understand exactly what the Town's inspections were looking for. They have a lot of requirements for each inspection but it is completely unclear as to whether those requirements apply to my specific situation. For example, for the pre-drainage (the first inspection) they verify the setback distances. I remarked that it seemed a little late to do that when I have forms in the ground. The manager told me that they might require a new survey. I specifically asked him how that determination would be made. He said "if the boundary is unclear." What it comes down to is the inspector's sense about whether I'm too close. The requirement is 6 feet and I'm 15. My own deed isn't clear Fortunately for me, my neighbor's deed is very clear about the property line and I'm going to stake it I understand that the Town might be liable if they allowed me build too close to the property line.

I do believe that it comes down to the Town wanting to make sure that nothing that I do has any risk at all for them. They have rules to try to prevent risks. They will gladly make me spend money to mitigate any risk that ey find. When you couple that with their incompetent inspectors, it is a prescription for rampant problems. Several of the employees are obviously arrogant and you don't have to talk to them for more than a few minutes to get that sense. They have a very high turnover rate so they have no consistency job to job and they are apparently not paying well enough to attract skilled people, even in this down economy. It doesn't take many incompetent, Napoleon complexes with nothing to balance them in the execution of a cumbersome, poorly documented process for things to get very out of hand for the homeowner.

Believe me, if I could have paid $2,000 to make this mess go away, I would gladly have done it. I'm already way more than double that in additional costs and there is yet no end in sight. If I hire a lawyer, it would be after the fact. I know for absolute certain that not another project like mine approved within the last 5 years has several of the items that they have made me get. In some ways, I think I'm being punished because I jumped too quickly and completely to give them what they ask for. I haven't been made to grovel enough yet. They want to make sure that my grovel quotient is high. I do understand why this later point would lead you to believe that they are looking for a payoff.
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:13 AM   #62
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Can you go to a very high city official like city manager or mayor and just throw all your cards on the table and ask what can I do to get some help here. It might help to get a letter from your neighbor stating he has no problems. Good Luck
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Old 01-08-2010, 10:37 AM   #63
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Can you go to a very high city official like city manager or mayor and just throw all your cards on the table and ask what can I do to get some help here. It might help to get a letter from your neighbor stating he has no problems. Good Luck
I went to one of my Town Councilmen who I found out is good friends with the head of building inspections when they demanded that I re-engineer. The Councilman called the head of building inspections who then called me.

I'm trying to leave my neighbors out of this as much as possible. Everyone of them is in violation of some of the same areas as I'm now contesting. In fact, several of them are hundreds of square feet over the 1,500 sq.ft limit. That was one of the major reasons that I didn't pay closer attention to the 4 square foot difference that I had. That and the fact that the plan reviewer looked at my plans 8 times and never, ever, raised the square foot issue with me.

BTW, total change costs for the 1.5" look like they are going to be $4,500.
When I get done, none of my neighbors are going to be able to walk outside without sunglasses because of the glare from by gold plated garage.
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:20 AM   #64
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What a process.....Can I ask how large is the city you live in? At this pace you'll be lucky to have the shell up by summer.
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Old 01-15-2010, 08:34 AM   #65
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I am thinking you should move.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:03 PM   #66
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The town is now about 62K people.

I finally got the building permit on Friday after begging and pleading, even after I finally got the modified building and foundation diagrams in my hands. The contractor will start on Monday and there is a very slim chance that we'll have concrete in the ground by Friday.

No, I'm not going to move because of this. But I also don't plan to ever take out a building permit again. I'd rather take my chances and pay fines than to go through this again. The rest of the town just builds stuff so I plan to do the same.

Now, I don't feel alone. Last Summer, a Town inspector decided a neighbor's fence was in disrepair because it was leaning a little. They made her apply for a building permit to fix it. It has been six months and she doesn't have an approved permit yet ...for a fence repair. They made her get a diagram of her septic system and when she couldn't produce one either, they made her go through the "hold harmless" letter registered with the County.

We have our own little nanny state here and the kind public officials are looking out for our welfare.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:08 PM   #67
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Good Luck. I hope it works out for you. Keep us posted and send a picture when it is finished.
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Old 01-22-2010, 07:53 PM   #68
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Well...we've made progress but still no concrete. After threatening the general contractor that I was going to hire my own concrete contractor (one who could actually show up), they started the foundation yesterday but ran out of materials and didn't finish. The new plan was to pour concrete Monday but that isn't going to happen now. Maybe Tuesday. We're close.

The real fun came in today's first Town inspection. It is supposed to be "pre-drainage" (to make sure that I'm not creating runoff onto my neighbor.) I passed but they've now decided that maybe I need to cement the entrance from the road onto my gravel driveway. It is a the new ordnance. Of course, they have their own set of plans for that cement work which costs about $2K to execute. The fact that I've been using the gravel drive and that the gravel is shown on the original platt doesn't seem to matter. The fact that only one other house on my side of the street has concrete doesn't seem to matter. Let me be clear. I have a circular drive in front of the house and it has cement on both entrances. The drive that I've been using to park the MH is gravel and I've been doing it since we've owned the RV. The inspector's rational is that I'm adding stone in front of the new building, leading up to the ramp because it is slightly offset from where the original driveway was at that point. I couldn't fit the building in their setbacks and keep the door of it over the original driveway.

This is the first time that I've understood that they can inspect new requirement into my project. I'm going to be broke before I get this building up.
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Old 01-22-2010, 08:01 PM   #69
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I may be mistaken, but I think water will soak thru gravel will run off concrete.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:27 PM   #70
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Well, I am one of those Building Officials (retired) and perhaps some further explaination is needed. I can't quote all the regulations per se, but many of those requirements are FEDERAL. Put in place by ALGORE.
The water runoff, the septic leach field runoff, etc. you can be sued if you have done something to change water direction. Those of you who live in South Florida know you have to have a swale (swell), normally front and back. But it can be on the sides also.
If your community has adopted the NEC and you do the electrical work, it will have to come out.
Maybe your inspectors are "stupid", but the building code is a MINIMUM to keep you safe.

Kerry

Pouring concrete without a soil sample is just asking for trouble.
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