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Ann Architect, Renovation Design GroupAnnie Architect, Renovation Design Group

Renovation Solutions is weekly column on architectural home design by Ann Robinson and Annie Schwemmer, Principal Architects of Renovation Design Group, a Utah architectural firm focusing on home renovation design.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Get right permit before demolition

By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon


About a month ago we introduced you to a project we're working on. It is an old frat house that the new owners want to convert back into a single-family residence. It's time for an update on the project and a peek into the paperwork that accompanies construction.

When crews demolished this room in an old fraternity house, they discovered where the back door to the house used to be, below.

Since we introduced the project, two major events have been taking place: the permitting process and interior demolition.

Any municipality requires that you obtain a building permit before you "erect, construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, improve, convert or demolish any building or structure." This quote comes from the Salt Lake City Zoning Ordinance, but the principle is similar in any city ordinance.

It is the homeowner's responsibility to make sure the proper permits are in place. The cost of the permit is proportional to the cost of the construction project. The cost covers reviews of the application and city inspections of the project. Electrical, plumbing, or mechanical work requires separate permits. You may secure the permits yourself, or your contractor may obtain the permits.

Keep in mind, however, if the permit is issued to you instead of to your contractor, you become the one legally responsible for making sure the work meets code. Therefore, you may want the contractor to take care of this step.

Demolition is revealing the home's architectural history as it is converted back

Permits are obtained through the Planning and Building Office of your local municipality. The city provides you with a list of information you are required to submit. After you (or your architect) submit the required documents, the application will be reviewed. If the information is sufficient, a permit will be issued. More often, however, an application will be returned with comments asking for clarification or additional information.

A permit is valid for a specific period of time, such as six months or one year, during which the work should be completed. Various inspections of the work will be required during construction, and a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued by the Building Department when the project has been completed to their satisfaction.

For the fraternity house project, we have submitted the necessary architectural drawings and structural engineering drawings and calculations to Salt Lake City. We are now waiting for their review comments. This usually takes three to four weeks.

In the meantime, the contractor obtained a demolition permit, which allows him to work on the interior of the home. As you can imagine, a former fraternity house needs more demolition than the average project! The plaster and sheet rock have been removed from the walls and most of the floor coverings are gone. Much of the plumbing and wiring has also been removed. Exterior demolition has to wait until a building permit for new construction has been issued.

So, our project is in a holding pattern. The contractor is using this time to schedule out the project, coordinate with subcontractors, and order long-lead items so he will be ready to move forward vigorously when the permit is issued. Stay tuned! As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at ask@renovationdesigngroup.com.

© 2006 Renovation Design Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Renovation Design Group.

If you are considering a remodel project, please Request a Free Consultation with Ann or Annie.


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