Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Permit Blues

Everyone has warned us that construction projects are a pain, that nothing goes right and everything takes longer than expected. We were OK with that to some extent. But now we are facing issues and we have not even started yet.

Financing is all lined up - finally - and luckily there were two rate decreases along the way. Our rental house (only two houses down) is getting it's final touches and will be ready for us in a week.

But come to find out our construction permit expired. Our contractor was tasked with keeping it alive. They thought they did by scheduling the inspection before our contract expired. But the contract expired the day before the inspection and now the city is saying that the permit is dead.

Now, I haven't ever explained the history here. But right before the trips were born, when I was humongous, we rushed to complete the plans and get them submitted in order to beat the deadline for new McMansion laws. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this local legislation, the idea is to limit excessive development and retain the charm of these old neighborhoods. But in reality the actual rules don't defend the 'charm' and are arguably too strict. At least arguably too strict for a family about to have four children living in a bungalow in central Austin.

I'll spare you the details, but at a high level the rules say we can expand our house up to 2,500 sq ft total. However, with the latest rules - if our garage is less than 10 ft from the house (ours is 9 ft) then you have to count the square footage of our garage. I don't understand the rationale here, but that means the city wants our house to only be 2,100 sq ft.

We have protested with the city and our contractor is staked out there today to plead our case. If we lose this battle, we have to reapply for a permit and shorten the garage by one foot! (not sure how long re-applying will take and it will require some additional drawings) or apply for re-instatement (takes more than 30 days plus a fee).

The other thing is, we really went out of our way to ensure the plans retain the charm of the house, even at the expense of changing the roof line. From the front, the house won't look much bigger. The slope of the roof will be more steep, more in line with the English cottage architicture and we will be adding a big shed dormer window to balance the house and add views overlooking the park.

Either way, if we can't get this decision overturned it is going to cost us time and money. Either way we really need to move soon. There is no place to put Quattro in this tiny house.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Then why don't you move? Seriously, we in Rosedale do not want a "McMansion" built out of your crappy little house. If you DO get your permit, you will be sorry because we will find another way to prevent it... Get lost.

Jennifer said...

Anon -

I welcome debate on this blog, but please refrain from personal attacks.

Anonymous said...

Oh my dear Jennifer--If your number 1 poster is in your neighborhood, how sad. What a nasty, nasty post., I always enjoy reading the comments as they are always so positive and uplifting. Sorry there's a bad egg in this group.
You have a darling little family and deserve what you can do to fix the situation in the area where you want to stay.
My thoughts and prayers are with you as you try to get through all of this government red tape!! May you receive a miracle!
A Gram from Portland, Oregon

Christie McGovern said...

Jen,
That was a mean post. Geez. I logged on your blog to find 2 posts I hadn't read. How fun! Your trio is absolutely beautiful!!!! Lily looks so exactly like her brothers (without as much hair)! So cute! Sorry for the building setback. Prayers to you and your family that everything goes through as planned.
I LOVE that you call baby-on-the-way Quattro.

Anonymous said...

You showed great restraint and maturity in your response to the first poster. I don't know how you do it, with 1-yr-old trips + 1 on the way, and moving, and construction woes, and the holidays. I have a lot less on my plate and it seems I am stressed to the max and I tend to "go off" on people quite easily these days!

PS. Not all anonymous posters are mean, I promise. Good luck & God bless.

GrammaG said...

I am so sorry you and David have to deal with this issue as well as all of the important ones. You both are strong and I have confidence you will succeed.