Wednesday, January 30, 2008

O-51-07, R-60-07: Building Permits For Home Repair Minutia

Sometimes coming up with blogging material is easy, as the actions of our elected officials provide such amusement and amazement that the posts basically write themselves. Other times, nothing jumps off the news page, requiring me to use a high level of talent to provide useful information. I have decided that in such times, rather than making nonsense posts like this one, I will detail various bills being considered by the city council, as I sometimes do not have time to catch them when they are introduced.

Today's valiant attempt to defy total boredom will encompass some proposed new fees for building permits, introduced by Mayor Moyer. Sources tell me that building permits are not free, and these bills would make them even less free.

O-51-07 imposes a building permit requirement on minor construction that currently does not require a permit, and as a matter of course, R-60-07 sets the fee for this new permit.

So here's how it currently works. If you want to make a "non-structural like-kind replacement and/or repair of windows, doors, and siding", you can do it for free--i.e. without getting a permit. The new rules would require such repairs to obtain a building permit, which would cost $50. The current code requires all building projects with a value of over $500 to obtain a permit, so the new code would require all $500+ projects AND all "non-structural..........siding" projects regardless of value to obtain a permit.

Can you imagine how annoying it would be to follow this law, and how hard it will be to enforce? It's crazy. I just had a sliding door replaced at my old headquarters and residence in ward 5, and it took the contractor like 1 hour to do it. The theory of building permits is to have inspectors guarantee that construction is structurally safe and environmentally safe, right? Why does the government need to be worried about windows, doors, and siding?

Also, let me describe my general theory on permits and licenses. By granting a permit or license, the government is saying that the applicant has met all requirements for safety and expertise. My contention is: if the government OK's a project, and that project goes awry, then the government should be on the hook for the repair costs! Think about it--if they collect money in recognition of your worthiness, then they should be liable if you aren't worthy. Or they should just stay out of the way and let people pay for their own stupidity, or reap their own rewards.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, if I need a $25 paine of glass replaced, I need to go to the City and get a $50 permit. Only Moyer could come up with this kind of absolute nonsense.

Let me tell you what it's like getting permission from the city to do something. I have a dead tree in my front yard. I was told by a tree service that I needed a permit to cut it down. So, I downloaded the form from the city and faxed it in. After 3 weeks with no response, I call. After 3 calls, I finally got a hold of the City Horticulturalist (I didn't know we had one, or needed one). He told me he'd drive by and check it out. I said, check out what; it's a dead tree! He said he'd have to drive by. Two more weeks and 3 more phone calls later, I finally get a hold of him (he's now on my cell speed dial). I think he had finally confirmed that the tree was dead; he had to do that, because I'm not a horticulturalist, and at the age of 50, I still may not be able to recognize a dead tree. Anyway, he finally said I could cut it down (it's only a little tree; maybe 15' tall). But, he said I had to write him an email saying I would take care of the new repacement tree. I guess he now suspects me of being a tree killer, or not responsible enough to be trusted with my own tree. It was like having my mommy make me promise to take care of the new dog.

So, it only took 1 1/2 months, a fax, 6 phone calls, a visit to my house and an email to get permission to cut down my dead tree.

And now, Moyer wants a permit for everthing. How about I just send her $50 (that's all she really wants anyway) and tell her to leave us the hell alone.

Bob McWilliams