Go to How Not to Build an Addition Index! This page is about waiting for permits.


I was certainly correct in believing that I would get personal attention from the plans examiner. He had left me a message on my answering machine even before I had gotten back to my office.


"Mr. Rayment, I have been looking over your plans and I see a little problem...could you please call me?"

"Gladly!" I growled picking up the phone. I punched in the numbers wondering what I could possibly have done wrong on the blueprints.

I suddenly felt like a high school student who had turned in an inadequate science project. As I waited on the phone, my pride and confidence in my blueprints began to ebb away. I started to think about all the things I might have forgotten to put on the plans: window specs, chimney heights, latitude and longitude, a plea for mercy!

By the time the examiner answered, I was getting mildly apprehensive about what he might have to say. I could imagine his wanting me to redraw all the prints. They had taken me two months to do the first time. I was certain that he wanted to make me squirm over my low estimates. "So what is the problem?" I asked.

I was relieved to hear him say, "Just a few minor details." "Well?"

"First of all, you are going to need a mechanical permit..."

"MECHANICAL PERMIT?!" I fairly jumped out of my desk chair. "I'm not going to be doing any engine work. I sure don't plan on keeping any cars or motorcycles in the bedroom - maybe a garage door opener to move the ceiling mirrors when the in-laws visit but..."

"It's for your heat ducts," he explained.

I shook my head. That meant one more trip to the B-B PUD and another wallet emptying permit to buy and another flood of forms to fill out and, for certain, another inspector to pound on my door. "Tell me, am I going to need any more permits?"

"Do you have erotic dancing?"

If I had, I certainly would not have admitted it to him. "So what else did you want to tell me?"

"It's about this helo-pad..."

Boy, those examiners are picky. I found out that my ceiling joists were not thick enough, my main support beam not made of the right material, and, under my plan, the whole addition would collapse in a week.

"Is that all?" I asked.

He said he would make a few adjustments in red ink on my plans, but that he would go ahead and approve them.

"When can I pick them up?"

"Two weeks to a year," he said dogmatically.

"I thought you said you were going to approve them.

"Yes, but they still have to go through the stamping process."

The next two weeks were spent in joyous anticipation. My wife and I conjured images of how our lives would be changed after the addition was complete. We looked at bathroom fixtures and even the furniture with which we were going to stock the new rooms. Little did we realize the long road that still lay ahead.

No wonder it took two weeks. When I got the plans back, I realized that there was now no hope that I could ever use the prints as wallpaper in the dining room. Besides being folded, there were red stamps all over them. Most of them were indecipherable, such as a circle followed by an "FA" that was stamped on the floor plans and some scribbled handwriting that said "egress" written on the window schedule. "Consult UBC 1107.2." I especially liked a note in the corner that read, "Approved with grave reservations."

I wonder if the plans examiner writes that on every blueprint he reviews?

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About the Author:
W.J. Rayment built an addition on his house, and in the course of the project learned from his many mistakes. This on-line compendium is his effort to help you learn from his experience. The advice and stories are often humorous, sometimes silly, but always informative. for yourself or as a gift for family or friends.

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