July 14 was the day of the all important Conservation Commission meeting. It was also, assuming we get approval, the day I had to file for a Building Permit. Paying work seems to come first and I had to squeeze my own project in. The 14th actually really started on the 13th. I was working frantically all day to finish the house plans. The building codes had changed recently and become much more stringent when building within one mile of the coast. I had reviewed the Wood Frame Construction Manual, now required for construction in this area, but hadn’t really studied it. My indoctrination started on the afternoon of the 13th. There were some unexpected requirements and some which didn’t always make sense. There is a checklist which, if followed, can eliminate the need for some complex structural engineering. I worked through the night and may have gotten 45 minutes of sleep. The Conservation meeting was at 8:30 AM and I couldn’t risk being late for that, and it’s a ninety minute drive without traffic.
I met Lynne Hamlyn at Town Hall and she did her presentation to the Board. The Commission voted unanimously in favor. We’re on our way!
Then I went over to the Building Department to file for a Building Permit. They checked off what I had and said I needed departmental signoffs, an original copy of the deed, an engineered site plan with an original seal and signature, and a roadwork bond. I won’t be doing any work in the road, but need a bond nonetheless. I was able to get the planning department signoff and then headed off to the Registry of Deeds and the Engineer’s office. I had to find an insurance agency to issue my ‘roadwork’ bond. It costs $100 for a bond which could, in the worse case, pay out less than $500. That wouldn’t be a bad business to be in.
After getting some additional copies, I returned to the Building Department. They took what I had and said to come back at 3:30, when departments are available for more signoffs. When I returned, the Board of Health said that the only one who could sign off was the Director, and he was in a meeting which started at 3:30. They made a big point of telling me they close at 4:30 and, just in case I forgot, mentioned it again. “Just come back tomorrow morning.” they said.
The only problem is that it’s at least a three hour round trip for me. They wouldn’t hold on to the paperwork and my check until I had all the signoffs. I thought they could take the paperwork, sign off in the morning, and then slide it down the counter to the Building Department portion of the counter – but it doesn’t work that way. It was a governmental Catch 22.
I called my Realtor, Brian Cobb, and he gladly obliged. He took the stack of paperwork and check to them and actually thought, after all this process, they’d hand him the Building Permit. It’s not quite that easy. That could take up to thirty days.
Our neighbor built an addition and wrote a book about it. http://www.katewhouley.com/
To those not familiar with the process, there are many revelations. And there are plenty of revelations even for those who are familiar with the process.