Friday, June 10, 2005


Dealing with DC

Permit Office 2, Elephant 0

Late postings, I know. I spent a good part of the morning at the DC building permit office trying to obtain a permit to build a storage shed in my back yard. Although it was my second visit, it was still unsuccessful. Although I brought a completed (10 page permit application) and had typed up my 'run-off mitigation plan' (required by law to protect the Anacostia River/sespool), I was told I had to obtain a certified survey plat of my lot. Of course the only certified survey plot of my property can be obtained from the city plat office for a nominal fee of $30 and a three week turnaround time. Did I mention I only want to build an 8ft. x 8ft. storage shed?

So, after reviewing the building code I discovered that I don't need a permit if the storage shed is less than 50 sq. ft. So, I found a plan for a 6ft x 8ft. shed on the Georgia Pacific website. I'm still guessing that despite the fact that the law says I don't need a permit, my friendly neighborhood building inspector will still pay me a visit to give me a citation (not an award mind you!) anyway.

Having once worked for Miami-Dade Building and Zoning, I understand your frustration. This tale is strongly reminiscent of my time behind the counter, trying to get people to accept what I personally thought were often ridiculous B&Z requirements, most for minor requests such as...wait for it...building a simple storage shed in their privately owned backyard.

Ahh, the government...what should be an easy task isn't allowed to be, but should be a hard one is apparently a cakewalk.
If it makes you feel any better, I didn't take my frustrations out on the folks working in the office. They were rather nice and helpful (and besides, they didn't make the rules)... I did ask them to confirm with me the zoning exemptions for storage sheds under a certain sq. footage (50 sq. ft). So, my 8 ft. by 8 ft. shed will now be 6 ft. by 8ft and therefor exempt from the permitting process.
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