I was trying to get the Garden Ninja to write this post, but he demurred. So, I'm stuck with it.
I didn't deal with the building inspector, I didn't see the building inspector. For all I know there isn't a building inspector. Hahahaha. Maybe it is actually the building inspector fairy. According to the Garden Ninja, it is more likely a building inspector troll. But, actually, it went a lot better than we had hoped.
Turn the clock back to Summer 2008, when we put up our greenhouse. We had a nice, friendly building inspector/zoning guy then through the township, and when we showed him our drawing and told him our plans, he told us all was well with and we bought a $50 building permit via the township for the greenhouse and the decking around the greenhouse. It went up, he came and looked, signed off, and that was that. Clean, efficient. No problems.
That was apparently before the state of Pennsylvania decided to adopt the ICC Building Codes, which are basically a national set of codes that, if adopted by your state, MUST be followed to the letter and everything MUST be inspected at different stages by an official building inspector (BI). It is billed as a life-safety issue, and it is. But it can be a huge hassle, and quite frankly a LOT of people around here just don't bother to get a building permit, much less get someone in to inspect what they're doing. I mean, they tell us you need to have an inspector come in and look and approve/deny a new electrical receptacle that you install. All additions, all renovations, all plumbing/heating/electrical work. Give me a break.
So, this was what we were joyously looking forward to. After we had the banks dug out, etc, Matt called the township's engineering firm who handles inspections for our township and told him what we had going on. Matt has built houses, he has a working knowledge of code. I work at a fire library, I have more than the average bear knowledge of ICC workings, and I have access to all the code books (hell, I have the Building Code of Australia's books, too). We generally KNOW what is kosher here, and we're willing to battle it out.
Case in point, the BI told Matt that he shouldn't have dug out the banks without his (BI) say-so. Matt told him in no uncertain terms that this is our land and we can dig it to our heart's content, the BI has NO say in it whatsoever. And that is true. We couldn't believe this guy actually tried to pull this. Not a good start.
What we were mainly worried about in this process is that the garage is being built on the existing footers/foundation of the one that is there now. That means that, since the total square footage is over 750ft it would have to be inspected every step of the way with an approx. $120/inspection fee, which in the end would be easily around $1500 just for inspection fees, and that was just for the structure. If we added plumbing or electricity it would be more. It would also add weeks onto an already tight schedule as we waited and waited for someone to come out and look at something before we could go on with the next step.
So, imagine our glee when we found out that the cut off isn't 750sqft anymore, it is 1000sqft. We come in at just under 1000sqft. OH JOYOUS RAPTURE!!! That meant we did NOT have to had a DAMN THING INSPECTED! That doesn't mean we're not doing it to code, however, but it does mean we can trust ourselves to do it and not have to pay someone to come in, look at something, and then say "Looks good! $120 please!"
The other joyous bit is that we don't even have to have our terrace retaining walls inspected, either. The cut off for that is 4'. If you build a wall over 4' you must have a footer for it and you must have it inspected. Well, our outside retaining walls are all going to be 3'10". So there. But, we're still putting in footers. Just, no inspections again. Whee!
We did have to get a $120 'Land Use Permit' from the township, but that was because of the two concrete slabs we're putting in for patios. We also had to get a $10 building permit from the county. That's it. Hallelujah.
All in all, a lot easier than the battle we'd been anticipating.
Watch for part 5: A Garage gets Deroofed.