Whenever a permit is required, you’ll need to provide the copies of your contractors insurance and license.
If you are adding square footage to the house, the structural drawings and the plot plan will be required.
Structural drawings will be also required for the permit if you are making structural changes to the house (for example, moving or removing walls, installing new windows or doors where they didn’t exist before).
Working with an architect
A setback is the minimum distance between structures on your property and the edge of your property. For example, your house or your garage may have required to be at least 30′ from your front, 20′ from your back and 15′ from your side property lines.
These numbers can vary for your town and even your street depending on the zoning of your house. A quick call to your local building department will clarify this.
A variance is a request you make to the town asking to allow you to build beyond your zoning minimums. For example, if you want to build beyond your setbacks, cover more square footage of your property than allowed or make your house taller than allowed.
Usually, it’s not too hard to get a variance, but you’ll have to speak in front of a review board and your request will take a couple of months to get processed. The more variances you try to get approved or the further you encroach on what your property is zoned for, the harder it is to get the approvals.
A frost line is how deep the frost goes into the ground during the winter. It’s different for different areas. Your footings for any new structure are required to be below the frost line. For Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties in NY, the frost line is typically 36-42” deep.
If your footing is not deep enough the structure could heave or move during the winter and get damaged. This doesn’t apply to small stand-alone structures like sheds though.
As a precaution, you should have 10-20% extra for unanticipated repairs. This doesn’t mean your contractor is taking advantage of you. It’s just impossible to say in advance what is behind your walls until he opens them up.
Some problems that your contractor can’t anticipate include:
- faulty wiring
- leaky pipes
- bad construction practices that threaten to damage your house in the long run.
It’s actually good when your contractor finds these things and fixes them rather than covers them up, because they are only going to lead to bigger problems later, some of them potentially life threatening.
The vast majority of our work has no unanticipated extras.
When undertaking a large remodel, you need to know if your “mechanicals” can handle it.
Do you need to upgrade your electric service? If you have a 200 amp service, most likely no. If you have a 100-year old 50 amp, most likely yes.
Is your furnace, AC unit and hot water heater adequate, up to date and sized properly for the anticipated extra loads?
A dishonest contractor will leave these things out of the initial estimates so that he can get your signature on the contract first and hammer you with additional expenses later.
In CD Construction, we’ll tell you these things upfront and include them in our initial proposal.