Thursday, July 18, 2013

The County inspector.

I have learned (or have been schooled) yesterday that I'm in need of permits.

Now settle down folks. I am an upstanding guy. I did my diligence at looking into whether I needed them. It was my understanding that what I was building was permit exempt. A one story, 120SF shed. Plus a non-grid tied solar array to power it.

Over the last several weeks there have been not one but half a dozen people that have stopped their vehicles on or near my property to check out the Solar Array. It's similar to a bug light for some people. Many people honk and wave at me as well when driving by.

The ones that stop ask a bunch of questions pertaining to solar and Off-grid. Then proceed with what I am building.

I have to inform them about me building a work shed for my avid gardening adventures etc.

All lovely.

Anyhow. Yesterday Morning I was in a groove of working on the back end of the shed when there was a white pickup truck that was driving down the side street. I waved believing it was the neighbor behind me. Not so, as I found out when they continued to drive onto my property etc.

It was a county building inspector. The Electrical one.

He got out of his vehicle and I said hello. (Some of these people are quite gruff in their mannerisms towards people. I have to grit my teeth at times to remain smiling and accepting)

I was informed that regardless of Off-grid, ALL solar needs to be permitted. OK. If this is the case, I am alright with it. It was being built safely anyhow. 1/2" conduit, combiner boxers, grounding rods, continuous ground cables, etc. (You know what I mean, Frank)

Stopped work. Got a bunch of paperwork together of all the components, the deed, and rough drawings. Then proceeded to venture out to the County Permit Office.

This is where it became a spiraling fun-ball.

Mentioning to the lady at the service desk about inadvertently building solar without a permit she proceeds to inquire (so she can determine the paperwork needed). Well, I Inform her (She asked) that its supplying electricity to a work/storage shed. A shed in which I've built to specifications that was believed to be exempt status. She replied that was all fine, yadda yadda. However, it wasn't.

It was later told to me that due to me not having a house already upon the property.... that I do not actually qualify for exempt build status.

Oh. Eff.

Now it entails that I need a build permit for the shed and electric. All the inspections. Plus. The fun part. A DRIVEWAY permit!

*Face palm*

I am not sure if those of you have been half-way following along here.... this is a not so inexpensive project. In the grand scheme it eventually will be a very fruitful one, an cost effective, however, not without a good pocket book at this point.

Im nearing what I have. It should last me for what is needed. Now I have to deal with permits.

Spent the evening angry. Frustrated. AND. Certainly screwed for a hump-day (wednesday)

I want to do the right thing. However, due to fiscal concerns, I may not be able to.

I went to sleep with the thought that this morning when a compliance inspection rolled around that should they cause me to do major alterations or a very expensive driveway... Then I would have to fold my hand. Pack up my stuff. Place it all on the back of a flat bed trailer and build a "shed" upon it for the panels and storage.

This morning I woke up not so well. Waited from 7am to noon for them to show.

Turned out that the build inspector is much friendlier. Right after the electrical one showed up again. Weird.

They went over all my stuff. Asked a number of questions. Turns out that aside from the permitting process and money, I may be able to continue forward without all sort of modifications.

In turn, I will have to draft up actual plans for the house. Namely play architect. Submit that with the fee. Then wait on the county to approve or request alterations etc.

So, what to do? Hmm, good idea.  It is more money. Though above board. I wouldn't ever be hassled again for the structures. They would drive by happily. The documents and online portals would show my permit approved status. I could thumb my nose at those who don't like solar or sheds.

I could resort to telling people to not 'trespass' from then onwards. LOL

The one thing I do enjoy about it is getting the property address changed over to the actual connecting subdivision roadway as opposed to the county road.

It would make it easier for people to deliver things.

So... I sit here at Starbucks with the intent to start filling out heap of paperwork and commence drawing.

Oy vey.

p.s. I suspect that one of those people that came by may have been either county workers or were the sort of people who want you to do things certain ways because they did. Or a neighbor called due to snooping (although I never did anything deliberated under radar. I believed I was exempt due to reading law) online. A person whom doesnt like my stuff, the look, or a blocking of view, or just hates young, skinny, hippy types.

To those people. I smile and wave at you. You dirty dogs you. Guess what. Im still there and will be regardless. I'll welcome myself to the neighborhood.

What's not to love. The light-storage loft joists are going up.

The 8ft extended (17ft) ladder hanging out on the shed floor.


  1. I feel your pain. Damned bureaucrats! We just went through the "proper procedures, permits and inspections" on our sewer hookup, but the city never started billing us for the monthly fee. Now we could just ignore that and hope they never catch it in a audit, or we can be honest and go tell them how to do the job they were supposed to do from the time we had the final inspection. Of course we'll do the honest thing, and they'll hit us for the months that we weren't charged....but you'd better be sure I'm tempted to just look the other way.

    1. It is a rough existence having scrupples. :-)