Thursday, November 19, 2009

    A tale to warm your heart

    We have spent many hours griping about the bureaucratic city permitting process, both in public and in private. Here's a two-part tale to warm your heart and brighten your day.

    Tai received a phone call from public utilities (our least favorite city department from our bruising, protracted permitting process this summer) about a week ago. The person on the other line informed him that he could now come down to their office to pick up our house plans — they were all approved and ready for a permit. This was a surprise to Tai since our house plans were approved, stamped and permitted in July...he couldn't do much but laugh at the caller's sincerity and earnest helpfulness. "Look! I'm doing YOU a FAVOR by calling to tell you that your house plans are approved! Look at how great we are!" We think that this person found an old copy of our plans laying around the public utilities office and took it upon himself to review and approve! What initiative! Five months late!

    I love bureaucracy.

    Then, we had to jump through some hoops to build a garage. We didn't think that we were going to have the budget to build a garage, so we had just put in our initial plans that we would pour a large parking pad (called a monument pad) and build one in the future. We didn't include it in our bank budget, we didn't have a design for it, and we didn't have a permit to build one. Enter Davido, who has cruised so quickly on our construction and saved us so much money along the way that we can now build that garage. It will still be really tight to fit it in the budget, but we are really used to that at this point. (Tears of joy for the frozen fingers I won't have scraping a car this winter!)

    We started to tinker with a design and in the meantime, we expanded our dimensions for the monument pad beyond what was approved in our initial plans, so as to allow for storage space in the garage (us lacking a basement, you see).

    We were getting ready to pour the pad that we showed on our original plans and assumed was approved. An inspector to the site last Friday refused to approve our concrete forms in advance of a scheduled pour. He said that he needed to see more detail. This necessitated a trip to the city where we realized that because the plan said "future garage over new monument pad" they had ignored it because of the word "future," even though it was what they told us to do in order to get our off-street parking and still be able to build a garage some day without pouring new concrete. So, we needed a permit for the pad, and since we were there and paying for new permits we might as well get a permit for a garage too. Tai had played around with a design, which is a basic shed-style building using similar siding materials as the house. He had drawn a site plan and floor plan already, and Davido took out a piece of paper and drew a framing plan and a detail on the monument pad and its footings.

    It took about 2 hours to sort through everything but at the end building and zoning stamped the plans around 4:30 p.m., and the boss at building and zoning called down to the public utilities office to make sure they would stick it out to 5 p.m. so Tai and Davido could dash down with our plan and get approval, thus allowing us to remain more or less on schedule for the concrete pour and to work around the snowstorm last weekend.

    Here's the miracle: public utilities did it. They stayed in the office when they said they would, they approved our garage plan in a matter of minutes, they gave us the green light to build this thing and were very friendly and happy about it. I'm still in awe even as I type this.


    Suzanne said...

    It's the off season for permitting, or maybe the baby fairies helped you out.

    Side of Jeffrey said...

    and people don't believe in miracles. Psh.