Building Permits; Stick ‘Em Up

Stick ‘em Up

Kim Fahey was recently convicted of a dozen misdemeanor building code infractions last month, in Los Angeles County. He faces several years in prison unless he tears down his “Phonehenge West”.

Fahey said his constitutional right to do what he wants on his property is being trampled, calling that the real issue in his fight with the county – not his colorful personality or his penchant for building odd-looking buildings.

While we may “own” our property, in most parts of the country, building permits must be acquired, prior to construction of your new pole building.

Pole Building Permit

Check your local permit process

Now what defines a “building permit” and the investment in one varies greatly.

Much of our country is not much different than here in rural Roberts County, South Dakota. Here, we take in a crude drawing on the back of a cocktail napkin and for a few dollars (and under five minutes), we have a permit in hand. Low cost, no inspections, pretty hard to beat.

This is certainly not the case everywhere. In Mr. Fahey’s county, I’ve had permits sit in the “IN” basket on a plans examiner’s desk for nine months before they even have a chance to be looked at. In another California county, it took one of our clients nearly 13 months to obtain a permit to construct an 800 square foot pole barn!

The cost can be “all over the board” as well. How sad it was for us, when one of our clients, in the City of Seattle, had to downsize his pole building garage. Originally planned as 24’ x 30’, the cost of the permit was so high, he had to cut his building down to 24’ square! He lost 20% of what he wanted to build, just due to building permit costs.

Early in your budgeting process, contact your local Building Department. In most cases they can give you an estimate of the costs and effort involved to obtain the building permit for your new pole building.

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2 thoughts on “Building Permits; Stick ‘Em Up

  1. Its sad how easy it could be to just display all the permits you are using for a job. Its more for your protection than anything else. If you have the permits and something happens, you are covered by insurance, you can be reimbursed and hopefully everything works out. If no permit is obtained and something happens you could be fined and if someone is hurt, sued and pay for medical attention and damages out of pocket. Be safe out there. Nice post.

    1. Thank you very much.

      There are a plethora of issues involved for failure to obtain needed permits, among them possible negligence in the event of an injury on site. This is a case where biting the bullet and acquiring all needed permits in advance is the proverbial ounce of prevention.


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