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Old 01-26-2013, 02:32 PM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,358,349 times
Reputation: 1919

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmecklenborg View Post
Seems to me that complaining about the permit process is a convenient out for those who have gotten in over their heads with home improvements.
I can agree there are certain things in home construction which should require a permit. But to me these should be confined to items requiring a licensed professional to perform, such as electrical, plumbing, etc. While the state requires licensing for commercial projects, I don't beleve residential roofers, flooring, wallboard & tile setters, painters, HVAC people, cement, or just about anyone else, including building the stick house itself, etc. need to be licensed. It the work does not require a licensed person to perform, I do not believe it should require a permit. Also recognize that many requirements for licensed professionals to not require everyone on your job to be licensed. Only that they are quote supervised and inspected by a licensed professional.

The average individual certainly has the intelligence to understand the basics of construction. If not, of course they need a contractor.

But if an individual wants to rehab a house, and has an ounce of brains, they can use readily available PC software to produce a set of construction drawings, all the way down to a bill of materials list. They should then be able to go to one source and obtain all of the necessary permits plus the inspection requirements. Of course that one source should be requred to publish the type of documentation they require.

Putting roadblocks in the path of people wanting to restore/rehab houses just does not make sense. I believe the laws should be relaxed to what items require an inspection, if you pass the inspection, hang the permit. If you fail the inspection, occupancy is denied until you comply. I can see the objections now. Without a permit, how is an inspection required?

Very simple, any property being sold or changing hands in the area should be subject to an inspection, paid for by the seller. Any building code or other violation should prevent the property from changing hands. The only exclusion is the property is being transferred to a rehabber. Then it should be identified as not habitable until the identified conditions are corrected.

Whole bueaucracies have grown up around this subject. These are what need to be cut down to size. Those who want to address the rehabilitration of inner city neighborhoods need to be given a single point of contact to address all of their inquiries. Of course like any other public/government agency there has to be an avenue to appeal their decision when you are being wronged. You are given a single point of contact for everything. You document everything and if you run into a point of conflict you go to the board of appeal. If that does not resolve the situation, you consider going to court.
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Old 01-26-2013, 03:20 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati(Silverton)
1,576 posts, read 2,302,369 times
Reputation: 651
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarah Perry View Post
Sorry, I still failed to make my question clear. i was thinking about things I've read indicating Cincinnati is not a favorable place for people who make a living in the business of buying, rehabbing and reselling properties. The basic allegation is that if you want to do that sort of thing, you'll be better off doing it in some other jurisdiction because the city's process is unnecessarily complicated and inefficient. Yeah, I know a few large developers do it, but presumably they have the money to hire specialists.
You can't be serious? It happens ALL the time. Even during the recession.
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Old 01-27-2013, 10:38 AM
 
Location: Indianapolis and Cincinnati
682 posts, read 1,387,611 times
Reputation: 609
Compared to other cities I work in Cincinnati's permit process is more costly and there is a lack on consistency for getting a permit to do something. Cincinnati REQUIRES by code that you need a permit to replace a light fixture, replace a toilet, things that most average people can do and wouldn't think about getting a permit for..

In most cities if you want to tear off a falling down porch or small addition you can do so without a permit. In Cincinnati that process requires a building alteration permit and four sets of scale drawings.

Retaining walls (You know the kind you buy in pieces at the local home improvement store? You need a permit and it can quickly run into thousands. The average homeowner who goes to home depot every weekend violates the law constantly without knowing it.

You want to put up a picket fence or privacy fence...you need a permit.

You want to go to put up and above ground pool in the summer for your kids...you need a permit and site plan and three sets of drawings If its more the 24 inches deep ? Oh you need a enclosure (fence permit again)

Cincinnati requires permits for things other cities have purged from their permit process long ago , or never required a permit for. It adds thousands to the cost of restoration. If its multi family or commercial you need architect stamped drawings.

BTW, some cities in an effort to attract people to come in and restore old houses have greatly reduced or eliminated the cost of permits.

The VBML laws (Vacant Building Maintenance Liscence) have been a boom to Newport and Covington because most people just throw up their hands and leave Cincinnati. There are 5000 homes on the keep vacant list/condemn list in Cincinnati right now. 90 percent of them could be restored. The city demos property everyday that most cities would be stabilizing and restoring. If it doesnt sit in a historic district there are no protections. Thats why the Gamble House is on the verge of demolition. Or why a developer was able to demo a block of high style Victorian homes in Corryville to build some cheap student housing.

Oh, and Condemn doesnt really mean structurally unsound , it just means a previous owner failed to jump through some city hoop and they condemned it as "escalation".

The easiest permit to get in Cincinnati? A DEMO permit and Billy Bob slumlord can tear it down..no liscened demo contractor required.

A big part of my business is walking homeowners through all the redtape and roadblocks the city throws at them. I work all across the country with homeowners and Cincinnati is one of the most difficult to permit in and as a result a lot of people who would come to Cincinnati and buy and old house, just go elsewhere. Its the main reason that neighborhoods are being held back.

But the city is addicted to that federal demo money because they can use a cut of it to pay city salaries.
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:51 AM
 
Location: Philaburbia
31,152 posts, read 57,274,608 times
Reputation: 52008
Quote:
Originally Posted by restorationconsultant View Post
Retaining walls (You know the kind you buy in pieces at the local home improvement store? You need a permit and it can quickly run into thousands. The average homeowner who goes to home depot every weekend violates the law constantly without knowing it.
Wow ... You're right about not knowing. Count me in as one of those unknowing homeowners who rebuilt a retaining wall. And my neighbor across the street, and then there was the guy next door who put up a fence without a permit.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati(Silverton)
1,576 posts, read 2,302,369 times
Reputation: 651
Quote:
Originally Posted by restorationconsultant View Post
Retaining walls (You know the kind you buy in pieces at the local home improvement store? You need a permit and it can quickly run into thousands. The average homeowner who goes to home depot every weekend violates the law constantly without knowing it.
I don't think there is a Home Depot in the city limits.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:49 PM
 
1,295 posts, read 1,519,013 times
Reputation: 687
I would make a call if a neighbor put up a fence without a permit.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,358,349 times
Reputation: 1919
Quote:
Originally Posted by unusualfire View Post
I don't think there is a Home Depot in the city limits.
Oh yes there are at least two, one on Highland Ave near Ridge Ave and one on Glenway Ave in Western Hills. There is also a Lowe's on Ridge Ave. I sure there are more but these were the first 3 I found.

They are not as plentiful as further out in the suburbs but they are there.

And like they say about people driving to go to a Bass Pro Shops, they will definitely drive to Home Depot/Lowes.

Saying that, I don't think pickup trucks are as popular a vehicle with Cincinnati residents as they are further out in the suburbs. And you definitely need a pickup truck to be a serious Home Depot/Lowes customer. Either that or pay a lot of delivery fees.
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Old 01-27-2013, 12:57 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati (Norwood)
3,376 posts, read 3,693,454 times
Reputation: 1746
^ The Home Depot and Lowe's mentioned above are both located in "Columbia Township,"which technically probably isn't a part of Cincinnati.
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Old 01-27-2013, 01:08 PM
 
Location: Cincinnati(Silverton)
1,576 posts, read 2,302,369 times
Reputation: 651
^Yep and the one in Western Hills is actually Green Twp.
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Old 01-27-2013, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Mason, OH
9,259 posts, read 13,358,349 times
Reputation: 1919
restorationconsultant...

Thanks for posting how all inclusive and cumbersome the permit process is in Cincinnati from your personal experience. I believe it is a combination of cost, time, and hassle why so many people circumvent the process.

Several years ago my son who lives in the Mt Airy section of Cincinnati erected a deck on the rear of his house. He made a complete set of architectural drawings so he would get both the design and the materials right. He has a PC loaded with all kinds of structural design software. I knew he was not about to build something which could put his family in danger. I helped him erect it.

After completion, one day a building inspector shows up at his door. Mr Brill I understand you added a deck to your house, may I see the building permit? Sorry, I was not aware I needed one for a residential deck. Yes you do. How do I remedy this? Well I can issue a permit plus a small fine, but before I can do that I need a set of authorized architectural drawings against which I can verify the deck was built. Otherwise I will have to request you dismantle the deck. After discussing the fee for the permit plus the fine, which iincluded the inspection, my son said just a minute sir.

He rounded up a set of the architectural drawings he had made plus his State of Ohio Registered Civil Engineer's stamp and proceeded to stamp the drawings Approved. Here is your set of authorized drawings, be sure and advise me of anything in the construction which does not conform to them upon your inspection. And here is the cash for the permit, may I have a receipt please?

Well you can say as a professional engineer he should have known a permit was required. Perhaps, but he deals in commercial construction only. His state license however does not differentiate, he is simply a Registered Civil Engineer. He can design a replacement for the Brent Spence, a new Skyscrapper downtown, or the cut and fill for a drainage problem along a city street. The state of Ohio does not differentiate. They should, but they do not.

The permit process is cumbersome anywhere. A few years ago I installed a 2nd floor elevator in my house. I recognized this would require a permit. The people I hired to install it made the permit application. Once they had the enclosure roughed in the inspector came out. He had only one interest, seeing how electrical power had been routed within the existing structure. By a separate circuit off the main house panel, do you think we are dummies? Once he was satisfied with this, writes off the permit. Never came back. Absolutely nothing to confirm whether the support structure installed for the elevator would do the job. Why is that? Because the inspector is completely out of his league. He could have at least verified the installer had conformed to the structure recommended by the manufacturer. But I think that was out of his league also, requiring the ability to interpret engineering drawings of more than just electrical symbols. So what did I get for my permit - a fee.

I agree with restorationconsultant, the permit process needs to be simplified and in many situations eliminated. They talk about traffic cameras being a scam, most of the permit process is worse.

Many people today can get the information required to do a variety of projects. Why, because we live in the information age, and the big trigger is the Internet. With some searching you can find out infomation on how to do about any project around the house, ranging from installing a rose arbor to installing a whole replacement furnace and air conditioner.

Not everyone is up to this challenge. In fact maybe a large percentage are not. But many people are. For those applying for DIY installations, the permit process should emphasize only the criteria for success. A document spelling out what is required for conformity. If such a document does not exist, then the inspection (and fee) should be wavered. We trust you will not subject yourself or you family to an unsafe situation.
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