Sunday, April 28, 2013


Builder, Architect & Us
One of the most productive ways to move things along was to have the architect, the builder and us sitting around a table with a couple of beers going over plans, throwing in ideas and discussing costs. We did this a couple of times and it worked really well. It wasn’t long before we had our plans almost finalized.

I write almost finalized because this is where the building inspector enters the picture.
When having the survey done, we found that our house foundation was actually over the setback to the neighbor’s by 18 inches. That meant that our second floor wall change was also 18” over the line.

So the building inspector, who has a great reputation for fairness, required that we go before the Zoning Board of Appeals for a building variance. Now I know some will say, “but it was only 18 inches!” That’s where the fairness comes in. If you let one go for 18 inches, then the next is for two feet and so on. I appreciate that fairness and off to the ZBA we went.

Wouldn’t you know it, the night that we were scheduled for our “easy” variance, there was an issue before the ZBA where a number of attorneys were arguing the pros and cons of granting a particular request for a variance and more importantly what the word “shall” meant. Interesting stuff if you like law or zoning, but that night being a bit selfish we only wanted to talk about ours. About two hours into the “shall” hearing the ZBA recognized they weren’t going to get to the other five hearings behind it and rescheduled us and the others. Credit to the ZBA as they scheduled a meeting outside of their normal schedule to accommodate the folks that were seeking the variances.
The next time we went back, after a round of questions and me assuring the ZBA that the only change was to the second floor not to the foundation, our variance was granted.

This process added about 45 days to our timeline but it couldn’t be helped. When it comes to building you just have to accept that you must comply with the building requirements. It is what it is.
We were now into spring. And no shovels in the ground yet.