Saturday, July 25, 2015

Oh, Joy. The Permitting Process.

I have a building permit! I am proudly displaying it inside the JayBee.

Why is this so momentous?

When I began building the JayBee back in 2011, my plan was that the house would be a place to live temporarily while I tore down my existing wreck of a home and built something to replace it. I got a permit for an Individual Private Campsite that would have allowed me to do just that. With that permit, all that would have to pass inspection were the water and septic hookups. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would only be allowed to live in the JayBee for 120 days out of the year. (Can you imagine me building an entire house in 4 months? Yeah, well, me neither.)

Over the intervening years, several things have changed. I fell more in love with the JayBee and decided that I want it to be my permanent home. I would rather completely downsize now and not build another home after this one. The contractor I found to do the site work was concerned that the current location of the JayBee would make hooking up to the septic system difficult because it would be hard to achieve the proper slope with the waste line. Since I want the JayBee to be my permanent home, he suggested that I tear down the current house, build a proper pad in its place, and move the JayBee onto the pad--thus positioning the JayBee where the current house stands. What a great idea! It makes it possible to put a better foundation under the JayBee, makes all of the connections to utilities easier/better, and puts the house closer to the river view.

Having read a lot of stories about the code obstacles tiny-house folks have encountered in communities all across the country, I dreaded going to city hall to pursue getting a real building permit. My initial meeting with the code enforcement officer (CEO) went better than I had anticipated. It turns out that my city has a minimum house size of 80 square feet; since the JayBee is 238 square feet, the total building size is not a problem. After I submitted my permit applications (I also had to submit an application for a Shoreland Zone permit), the CEO presented some issues I had to address. She would not accept the gravel pad my contractor had designed as the JayBee's foundation, even though that is perfectly acceptable for mobile homes, because the JayBee is not being built by a certified, approved mobile home manufacturer. I have resolved that objection by agreeing to have a cement slab foundation constructed instead. The CEO also objected to my planned R40 ceiling insulation, noting that the code requires R49. I found a subsection in the code that allows a cathedral ceiling (with no attic space) that cannot accommodate enough insulation to achieve R49--in other words, the JayBee ceiling--to go as low as R30. That issue is resolved as well. I had no issues with being in a shoreland because I am not removing any vegetation with this project, the proposed house will not be any closer to the river than the house I am removing, and the total square footage of buildings on my property will be lower once the houses are swapped out.

So, I now have three permits: a building permit, a shoreland zone permit, and a demolition permit. I imagine there may be other code-related issues that arise as the inspections/approvals occur but, for now, this feels like a big step forward.


On a completely different note, I have become obsessed with the hordes of snakes that are living in my yard. At any given time, I can find at least three snakes out in the open, and I find myself checking multiple times a day.

Here's one.

George was curious and followed this one, but stayed a respectful distance away, a far cry from what he would have done years ago--kill it and proudly bring it to me.

Here's another one.

And another.

These aren't itsy bitsy garter snakes; they're two-foot-long creatures that scare the wits out of me.

There is also a bird that has been hanging out with me lately. (See her sitting on the sign in the photo below.) She has become way too cavalier about hopping around on the ground and things that are close to the ground, given that there are two cats living here. Granted, neither of my cats act like master hunters now that they are older, but they would not hesitate to grab easy prey either.

A few mornings ago, I just had to capture the sparkles on the water...and the cormorant on the buoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment