Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting a Plan Together

Where to begin?

The application for a building permit asks for general information on the floor plans and work to be done. We thought this would be considered a remodel, since the building was already erect, but due to the extent of the damage and the percentage of work needing to be done, we had to have an architect draw up detailed plans. These plans specified everything that needed to be done, as if we were building a house from scratch, the reason being codes had to be brought up to date and structural standards that needed to be re-evaluated.
The entire process of getting all the paper and approvals in place took a little over a year. We went with a local architect, figuring he'd know the workings and requirements better than someone outside the area. After hiring the architect, supplying the required number of blueprints, and the paying the fees for various permits as dictated by the city, we submitted our paperwork for approval. The city then came back with their wanting another architect to review the plans from the first architect, to make sure the plans were according to code. The issue we had with that was they wanted us to pay for this architect in addition to the one we had hired. The city had contracted with a specific architect; they should have either referred us to him in the first place or assumed the cost for their second look. We argued the point and the city eventually conceded. Another aspect that needed to be considered was that we were in the historical district. Everything visible on the exterior of the building required approvals by the Architectural Review Committee, which added to the time needed before work could begin.

We had to get permission from the city for my husband to be the General Contractor (GC) on the job, since he was licensed (and insured) just outside of the county. The city claims they recognize/reciprocate licensure from surrounding counties, but there seemed to be a little reluctance on their part. Certain work needs specially licensed people, whether you're playing the role of GC or owner, and we had every intention of abiding by these rules. Plumbing and electrical are two disciplines that always need a specially licensed contractor. Whether the role was GC or owner, we felt it should not have had a bearing on the approval we needed to obtain this permit. My guess is they'd rather have seen a local GC get the job.
While we were waiting for all the paperwork, plans and approvals to fall into place, it was all about cleaning up. This was all we could do without any permits. Demolition was minimal since a fire took care of a good portion of the building, and the building being exposed to the elements for an extended period of time took care of the rest. It was only a matter of getting all the garbage out of there. After having more than 40 tons of trash and construction debris removed; and getting our permits, we could really get started.

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