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Getting Your Building Permits
You’ve found the perfect parcel of land. The house plan you selected has you excited to begin the building process. You’ve even found the contractor you want to use or the modular home builder that will fabricate your home. Water and sewage have all been planned out. You even know what type of septic system your state and country require. Now it’s time to get your building permits!
Here are 10 things to know about getting the permits to start building your house:
1. There is no set fee for building permits.
Fees vary depending on the size of the project. If you remodel your bathroom and move plumbing around, the inspector has to come out once, and your permit price will be related to that. If you’re building a house, the inspector comes out several times, and your permit cost is more. Generally, the cost of a permit is based on a percentage of the cost of the project.
2. If you’re using a contractor, check to make sure permit costs are included in their estimate.
This is especially important if you’re sticking to a strict budget. You don’t want the surprise of having to pay for and get the permits yourself.
3. Your house plans may not be approved.
Before buying house plans online, take the time to call your local county building office and ask about the requirements for house plans. You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on house plans to have them rejected. In some localities, the permit office may require you to have plans drawn by an architect in the state you’re seeking the permit in.
4. The permit process is two distinct parts.
The first part is submitting your plans to the office for review and approval. The second part is receiving the permit and going through the associated inspections.
5. Failing an inspection doesn’t mean you have to give up.
The inspector will tell you or your contractor what isn’t up to code and then give you time to fix it. Once it’s fixed, they’ll come out and inspect again. They’ll keep doing this till the work is up to their standards. You don’t have to worry that they’ll tell you to tear your house down and give up, though they might recommend a new contractor if the one your using fails inspections often.
6. You can apply for a permit as an owner/builder.
This oftentimes gives you a longer permit period and means you can contract out to different general contractors to get the work done while you live on your property.
7. CCR’s and HOA rules can affect what the county building department can approve.
You want to make sure that your house plan and building plans fall within any restrictions so that you don’t end up wasting time being refused over something you could have discovered yourself – which leads us to number eight…
Calling your local county’s building department is the best way to make sure that there aren’t any restrictions on your land. It will also let you find out if any easements, setbacks, or variances affect where you can build on your property.
8. You can’t build on an easement.
The most you may be allowed to add is a fence, but you should bear in mind that should the county or state decide to utilize their easement, they will have the right to remove your fence. You may be able to receive a variance, but that is rare.
9. Property setbacks can receive variances, so it’s worth asking.
This is an important note for our family as we are splitting our parcels and want to have our homes close together so Grammie and I can visit without worrying that she’ll slip on ice or snow in the winter. We will likely need to apply for a variance for a covered walk-way or other pass-through that extends across the property lines.