FAQ

Permit

When do I need a permit?
You are typically required to have a permit if you increase the square footage of your house or make structural changes. Some towns also require them for roofing, siding, windows and bathrooms. Call your local building department to be sure.
What is required for a permit?

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).

How long does it take to get a permit?
It varies from town to town, but in most cases, if all your papers are in order and you don’t need a variance, you should receive a permit within 2 weeks.

Working with an architect

When do I need an architect?
You need a licensed architect to provide you with structural drawings required for the permit, i.e. if your remodeling project’s costs exceed $20,000 or you are doing structural changes to the house.
How long does it take to get an architectural drawing done?
The architect we work with usually provides an architectural drawing within less than a month. Most architects take between 2 and 3 months to prepare a drawing.

Importnat Terms

What is a setback?

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.

What is a variance and when do I need it?

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.

What is a plot plan and when do I need it?
Your plot plan (also known as a survey) is a scale drawing of your house on your property, showing your house as if you were looking at it from an airplane. You must have received it with all other papers when you purchased your house. You’ll need a copy of your plot plan to apply for a permit if you are adding new structures or changing existing ones.
What is a frost line and how does it affect construction?

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.

Egress windows

What is an egress window?
An egress window is a window that meets certain minimum opening requirements to allow a person to escape the building in case of emergency.
Where do I need an egress window?
Egress windows need to be installed in all bedrooms. Yet, a second door in a bedroom that leads to a separate room from the first door can fulfill the egress as well.
Can I install an egress window in a basement?
Yes, an egress window can be installed in a basement. If your basement is below grade you will need to install a window well as well to accommodate an egress window.

Other

Why do I need a contingency fund?

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:

  • termites
  • mold
  • 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.

Can I put an apartment in my basement?
Yes, you can. You can’t charge rent, but you can put what is commonly referred to as an “in-law apartment” in your basement with its own kitchen and bathroom.
What should I consider before remodeling my house?

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.

Didn’t find an answer to your question?

Give us a call right now and we’ll answer your questions in person. We also provide free estimates for all the jobs.

Call us today: (845) 610-3630

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