31 Days of Building a Home - Getting Permits

Permitting is possibly the most boring and frustrating part of the building process. I am sure this is not always the case, but for us, it was awful. Normally if you hire a builder, they get to deal with the headache of local government. Since we are building our own house, this job fell on us. 

We originally called our county building authority to get an idea on what was needed before we went to pull permits for the house. With all items in hand, Brad went to the Building Authority thinking he would give them all the information and we would get a permit. We were very mistaken. Apparently everyone at the building authority has a different opinion on how things should be done, what documents are needed and who you should submit them to. I should also add that you can never get ANYONE on the phone. EVER. I must have called the office 500 times and never got an answer or a call back.

Brad spent another 2 days driving around to local government offices, pulling certified land surveys (because the one we had that was missing the raised seal was unacceptable), and trying to get someone to tell him what the hold up was. After about two weeks of no answers and lots of headaches, we attempted to get answers from our county commissioner. Unfortunately, there was no information to tell us who our exact commissioner was, and no one at the local government level could tell us either. Imagine that. Since we had hit another road block, Brad decided to email all of the commissioners and within 24 hours, we had the director of the Building Authority calling us and explaining the situation.

The problem with our permit was our driveway and the fact that it was zoned improperly. Previous to us purchasing the land, (about ten years) our neighbor behind us had requested for the county to maintain the common driveway. The county told him that in order to do so, a tree stump had to be removed from the end of the roadway. This tree was never removed, and this small piece of legislation sat unaltered until we attempted to pull the permit. Just our luck. Thankfully the Director of the Building Authority took care of everything in a timely manner and was only a little ticked off that Brad went over his head by contacting all the commissioners. We probably shouldn't have sent out the email, but it is good to know that our elected officials are doing things to benefit their electors! 

I'm not sure that anything could have been done differently in our situation, but I do recommend doing your research. Search your future address and street name to see if something comes up. When I searched ours, I actually found the minutes from a ten year old commissioner meeting that talked about the tree needing to be removed from the driveway. Knowing this information could have alerted us to the improper zoning much more quickly. Also do your research on what is needed to obtain a permit to build. We did this, but ended up needing a lot more than we ever expected. Even more frustrating was that most of the "necessary documentation" was not even looked at for our permit. Ugh. 

The good news is, once you have your permit in hand, the building can begin! 

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