is arranged, the blueprints finalized and your actual home plans complete, there are still a number of activities to coordinate that lead up to the actual groundbreaking. What follows are the major things to be accomplished in the last few days leading up to the start of construction
Getting the Right Permits
Before any work can begin on your home, a building permit is usually required. The permit is issued by the city or county building commission and is the government’s method of ensuring that all construction in its jurisdiction conforms to the approved building code.
The building permit also ensures that all new construction is added to the tax rolls. If you build without obtaining the proper permits, you could be forced to tear down the home. Permits are serious business and are really there to protect homeowners from substandard work.
It is estimated that between one-third to one-half of all counties in the United States do not have building departments or building inspectors, or require a building permit to construct a home.
These are usually rural counties. Find out if the location where you intend to build requires a building permit, what must be done to get one and how long it will take. In many places, it requires only a day of chasing around the county courthouse, but in others it may involve several days or weeks of blueprint review by building officials.
If the home will be built by a general contractor, he will usually take care of any permits. The contractor should be responsible for the cost
of the permits, which can be substantial in some areas.
Copies of each permit are usually required to be posted on the job site. You should see a copy of the permits before any work begins. The following is a list of the most common types of permits and a general idea of what is required to obtain them.
Every county in the country has a slightly different set of rules, so it is essential that you or your builder checks with the proper government officials in your specific area.
The Building Permit
This is the general building permit obtained by you or your builder. To obtain this permit, you must present a set of construction drawings and a copy of a certified plot plan by a registered surveyor to the local building department.
The cost of the permit is usually based on the size or square footage of the building or its estimated cost. The permit is issued for a prescribed period of time. After this time limit, the permit must be renewed. Six to eight months is the norm; seldom will the time limit exceed 12 months.
A building permit usually covers the excavation, footings, foundation, masonry, rough framing and finished carpentry. A complete inspection is required upon completion of each work phase, as well as work covered by other permits.
Plumbing, Electrical and Mechanical Permits
It is normal practice for the subcontractor responsible for the work to obtain and pay for permits. The cost should be included in his bid. If you will be doing your own work in any of these areas, you may be required to pass an examination given by the permit office to make sure you know what you are doing.
The exams aren’t difficult but will test your knowledge of the building codes, and your completed work will have to pass normal inspections. You may also find it possible to make an agreement with a professional electrician or plumber to inspect your work and guide you in proper procedures for a modest fee.
Some communities require that you get an occupancy permit before you move into the house. You or the builder may obtain the permit. The building inspector and other inspectors will make a final inspection to ensure that all construction conforms to requirements and building codes.
There can be other permits required. When you meet with the building official for the general building permit, be sure you review your plans with the official and ask if any of the following permits will be required:
- Septic system permit
- Road or bridge permit
- Zoning permit
- Well-digging permit
- Access permit
- Grading permit
- Coastal-commission permit
- Flood-control permit
- Tree-cutting permit
Try to aim for a date when the weather will be as good as possible for building. That can be very hard to do in some locations, but there is usually a time when rain is less likely than others. In northern areas, you’ll have to wait for spring, but February and March are good times to get everything lined up to start in April.
This should be a simple matter of calling your agent and providing a date to begin your policy coverage.
Log or timber
delivery usually takes several weeks from the date of ordering but varies widely throughout the industry. The company representative will know the situation with the producer and help you arrange delivery.
should be delivered soon after the foundation and first-floor decking
are completed so that they will not be stored too long at the building site. They can get dirty and may be subject to vandalism or some other form of damage. On the other hand, you don’t want to finish the decking and then have to wait for the log or frame package to arrive. This will delay your schedule unreasonably.
You will quickly realize how difficult it is to do much without the modern conveniences of electricity, telephone (especially if cell phone reception is spotty) and water if you are building on an undeveloped piece of land
. These services are available on a temporary basis, but plan ahead
to have them there when you need them.
The lead time varies according to how busy the electric-power company is in your area. It can require up to a two- or three-month advance order in some areas. The process begins either with a visit to the power company or your electrical contractor.
The temporary service will be converted to the permanent service when the home is completed, so there will not be a separate charge for the temporary service. The utility company will require a service pole on which to mount a meter and circuit breakers.
Often there are specific bracing and size requirements for the pole. Your electrician should be familiar with these requirements. Be sure to locate the incoming lines in such a way that your view or use of property will not be hampered but yet make the service convenient to the building site so several hundred feet of extension cord will not be necessary. An alternative solution is a gasoline-powered generator.
You should be able to rent one at an equipment shop.
A landline telephone isn’t absolutely essential, but it can make the job go more smoothly if you can’t use your cell phone and need to call suppliers, subcontractors or inspectors from the job site. They also may need to get in touch with you about the job and their part in it. It is easy to provide a lock box for the telephone jack or wire it into your tool shed to prevent unauthorized calls while you’re gone. Forgoe this service if cell reception is reliable.
The plumber should be able to create a temporary service tap into the water lines if you have a municipal water supply. If you must dig a well, this may be the first thing to be done on the job. You’ll need a water supply for the concrete work and many other operations during the job, including work crew cleanup at the end of the day.
If there is a pond or creek nearby, that can become a good temporary water source. You might also offer to pay the neighbor’s water bill in return for being allowed to run a hose from one of his taps if it is close enough.
That should do it. The long planning and waiting period is over, and you’re ready to get to work. If you’ve followed the steps so far, it probably seems like actually building the home is anticlimactic. It should. We can’t overemphasize the importance of meticulous planning. It sets up the rest of the job to proceed smoothly and is essential to the building process.