Friday, March 11, 2016

Building Permits and Origami

Sometimes building permits can take over your life.  Local Building Code Officials can make unusual requests of the building owners, and by extension, the poor person making the actual building permit application.  Here are three examples:

Once, a building official requested that a complex and lengthy renovation be split into individual permits for every phase.  Not only that, but each phase (all but one) was split into additional permits based on differing occupancies in the various phases.  So in lieu of one permit application that contained many phases, we ended up with eleven permit applications.  Some of the permits were not be applicable for years from the filing date, but we were asked to submit them all at once in order to remain under the same state building code addition.  Needless to say this caused an unprecedented amount of paper work and stress, along with "Frankensteining" building sets together that weren't anticipated in being submitted together.  It took more than 4 years to close out all those permits.

This is how I tracked the phases and permits on this first job.
My next project (in another state) was already completed and required, of course, a building permit application.  This was a small project and thankfully just one phase.  However, another unusual request was made that we fold, not roll, the permit sets.  I did not appreciate the repercussions of this request until I realized we had 60 drawing sheets.  The building official claimed that they did not have the facilities to store rolled drawings.  If they had storage problems, I may have respectfully suggested that they not require four sets, which is double the normal amount.  At any rate, I discussed with the official which kinds of sheets I could omit from the set.  I ended up removing many of the casework details and food service drawings.  I believe I removed about 10 drawings total.

When it came time to ship them, it was the day of reckoning.  I had not, up to this point, tried to fold a set this big before.  I had heard on an episode of Mythbusters that it was impossible to fold a piece of paper more than seven times on itself.  Well, I was ready for fifty sheets together.  I intended to ship the four sets in an 11 x 17 paper box.  I first tried folding the sheets in fourths, but it became unruly very quickly and I was only half way to getting the set small enough.  So I tried folding the 30 x 42 sheets into thirds the long way.  That way the paper was not yet folded upon itself.  Next the drawings were folded in thirds the opposite way, such that there was only ever one seam crossing another.  It was not pretty but it was folded.  It was actually a two man job, with my co-worker providing the rest of the muscle.   By the time we were done, it was time to get all four sets in the box.  It seemed to take a half roll of packing tape, but the lid was secured.  I was just glad I was not the one who had to open it for fear of it exploding once the tension of the tape was breeched.
30 x 42
30 x 28
30 x 14
20 x 14

10 x 14, now imagine 50 sheets and then times 4 sets.

My final example required the most number of permits I’ve ever encountered.  When designing a campus of various housing options including semi-detached homes, small five unit apartments as well as two large buildings as part of the same project, we encountered permit-shock.  There ended up being twenty-four structure permits, including one for each of all of the above plus carports and garages.  Also, retaining walls need their own permits, so six more.  Oh, and each old building that had to come down needed a demolition permit, so thirty five more.  Add in the fire line, grading, other plumbing and utilities, we were staring at seventy plus permits.  I do believe I spent a total of at least two weeks coordinating just the permits.  Fast forward several years, and there remain just two open permits on the project!
Applications for just one building type on the campus.
This pile accounted for just three of the 24 building structure permits.