Sunday, July 26, 2009

Basement Renovations - The permit application

The permit application saga

Part One
Extensive internet search and perusing of New West Building Permit Application web page. Go in person to city hall and speak to clerk. Ask some questions. Get copy of the "Guide for Residential Construction" from the Building division. Come home and read through guide, do some research to try to understand it. Have a basic idea, then call the "Plan Checker" (that's his real title) to discuss what exactly is needed. Write down the details.

Part Two
Spend many hours using specialized software for designing floor plans (Home Designer Suite). Have some difficulty getting cross-sectional diagrams. Much help-menu and forum searching later, and a few emails to the developer, we come to the realization that this program does not do that. Despite it being a requirement for most permits. Utter a few expletives. Do the cross section diagrams by hand.

Part Three
Drop plans off at city hall. Clerk gets Plan Checker to come over and check plan. There are problems. The conversation goes something like this:

"But we picked up these instructions from this desk a few weeks ago".

"Yeah, this guide is old. Doesn't have the current requirements. We really should update it." He tells me I should have called the office and asked for information. "A phone call goes a long way".

I try to explain: "I did call. I talked you, actually. You told me to do it this way."

"Yep. You really should call to be sure you have the most up-to-date information".

"But I *did* call. I talked to *you*."

"'Cause then you wouldn't need to go back and re-do these".

"(sound of tongue being bitten)"

Part Four
Many expletives and hours later, re-submit plans to city hall. This time they get past the desk. Yay. A few weeks later we get a phone call. If we want to change the garage, we will need to bring it up to current bylaw standards. Which means no driveway access from the front of the house. So, if we want to make half of the garage into a real room, they will take away our driveway access. Which means we will need to fill in the driveway. And change the garage door into a real door. And reno the outside of the house.

If we want to apply to get a variance it will cost $1000. And we will probably be denied. They suggest paving the backyard to make a parking pad as an alternative. I ignore the stupid non-sequiter.

Back to the plans again. More expletives. Nix the reno to the garage. Move everything back into the rest of the house. Drop plans off again. Cross fingers.

Part five
Phone call from city hall. Plans are approved. We can pickup the permit as soon as we pay them enough to take the whole office to Disneyland.

And we call it a victory.