Saturday, August 2, 2008

Permitting...will it ever end

So, M got me involved in the permitting process this week.

He received a call from the zoning people earlier in the week and went in to chat with them. While there he discovered:
  • He had calculated the height of our house wrong and we were potentially too tall. (the actual definition of building height was buried in the zoning rules so far that it took me an hour and a half to find it)
  • The lot that we had bought and had surveyed was different then what was in the plat books for the county and the city.
  • We may be covering too much of the lot with our house. (we hadn't included the driveway or the decks on the upper stories in our calculations.)
At first the lady in zoning tore him a new one, saying stuff like we weren't going to be able to build it and so on and so forth. Then M gave her the low down. Explaining how far behind schedule we are and how we really can't make too many changes now. Not to mention how much we have already invested in this new house. After explaining our situation a little the lady started working with us. I think she began to feel like she was helping "M and Zilla" build their house, instead of some crazy muckity-muck architect wanting to build some modern atrocity. She and M worked out some sort of a plan and M got me involved.

I spent some time (an hour and a half) going through the zoning codes and found the definition of building height. Then my "crazy math brain" started coming up with about a million different ways to calculated it. The best thing about definitions is how many ways you can interpret them. Let's just say M was pretty glad he married me.

So, the next day M and I started working through the math and came up with a couple different scenarios that had the house all within the height restrictions. The main problem is that we are excavating our driveway and garage to hide them from view on the street, giving that side of the house a height of about 10 ft above the maximum height, but luckily for us it is the average height of the building that matters.

M then had me go to city hall with him to talk to the zoning lady. Once we got into see her, I was amazed at how helpful she was. We got the lot coverage out of the the way (we are at 46% and the max is 50%). Now to deal with building height. We were able to get her sold on our method, with a few corrections. Then she went to verify it with her boss. We could see them talking, it was like two people deciding you fate and you had no control. At first we thought it wasn't going to work, her boss didn't like it at all. Then she went to bat for us. YAY!!! M and I sat and watched her work for about 10 minutes and eventually we saw her boss nodding along with her. When she came back she asked us to move the retaining wall forward on the garage side of the house. (a small change that we could handle) That would move up our average grade and we would be within the maximum height.

Now, we just have to get the plat worked out. M called the county and they were already aware of the issue and were working on it on their end. That is supposed to take 7 days, then it goes to the city, another 15 days. Me being the optimist thinks that maybe we will be able to break ground this month, M thinks it may be September. Either way, I'm glad we signed the year lease at the loft instead of the 6 month.

Now for a couple fun notes:
  1. M won his first commission at work. YAY!!! This is a BIG DEAL for an architect, but he is being his usual modest self about all of it. Hopefully in a couple of years we will all be traveling to Resaca National Battlefield and seeing his plan and buildings complete.
  2. M and I had lunch with the fam at Brines, a Stillwater institution, while we were home. One of my all time favorites ever and a true family favorite. If you are there to eat, you can't walk out without having a hot fudge malt (yes, I know the malt powder may not be good for me, but this is a special treat and I felt fine the rest of the day). If you are there to drink, order yourself a bloody and enjoy the beef stick that comes with it. Mmmm......

Obviously, Bud was enjoying his malt.
This may become my new monitor background at work...

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