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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just a simple shelter

As many of you know from my past whining, I need a simple studio shelter, the deck is not working out in this cold winter weather, I want my wheel out of the house, and I don't want to constantly clean clay out of my kitchen. I need a space to work! I have been looking at these pre fab buildings. Not a lot of character and not exactly what I want but less problematic than building. Meredith took me by the building place where Chris Luther works and we checked those out before lunch the other day. They are fine for my needs and I can afford one.
So here is the problem. I came across a business card in a coffee shop while hanging out with Gerry on a photo shoot one day. It said artist/carpenter and I thought aha! This guy will get it, he will know what I want, so I called him and he does know what I want. He has lots of ideas, his work is great and I know he would do a great job for me. The problem is things keep coming up. A building permit, an inspection, and now before I go to the bank to get a loan he suggests I need to go to the environmental health and safety place and get a septic and flood plain review. (Sigh, a long one.....) people, I JUST want a little shelter, I'm not trying to build an f'ing house to live in. Does it really have to be this complicated!??!? The biggest problem is our property. It is a hill in Chapel Hill (imagine) that is rocky, red dirt with a big 'ol slope, almost no flat spots at all. To make matters worse, the only place a truck could possibly get in to deliver a building is the very place they chose to run our septic pipes. We have one of those systems that pumps the sewage up hill through the rocks to a septic field and Gerry is hell bound (rightly so) that no truck is going to drive over our pipes. So dilema #1 the building would have to be constrcuted on site, which brings us to dilemas #2, #3, ..... inspections, permits and government interference which I am strongly opposed to. Ask forgiveness not permission has been my life long motto and it is working for me so far! The other dilema is the sloping lot and the quandry of digging footings for the building or setting it on blocks. My new carpenter friend strongly suggests the footings which brought me to this permit thing in the first place. In the beginning I thought a truck would pull up to my house, back up set a building off on blocks, I would way goodbye to them and start moving in. Now I am going to the bank to get a loan for construction, going to the permit place for a permit, calling the inspectors, going to the dept of envionmental health and safety and plotting out my sewage field. I JUST want a fucking space to WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!! Why is this so difficult (that had a HUGE whine factor in there, just keep that in mind ). I am on the verge of taking the Jen Mecca route and getting some plastic. I hate making decisions (Libra), hate waiting for things to happen, I like intant gratification, and I really don't like going to government places where people have rules, I don't obey them all that well. Does anyone have a creative suggestion or know anything about driving heavy equipment over sewage lines, or can we take up a collection and have Brandon come over from Texas and secretly build me a little building like he has for his showroom!

24 comments:

cookingwithgas said...

of course if you want this on the low down hush and hush you would not post here!
:)!
Do this though the steps and it will all be okay.
After all - all you want is a storage shed out in the yard.
It can be done and will be worth all the steps in the long run- go to the bank and sign on the loan!
When you do- I'll buy you lunch!

John Bauman said...

I don't know what the codes are in NC, but in Indiana, as long as there is no permanent foundation, no building permit is necessary.

That means that backyard buildings like you are looking at would be allowed under that exception as long as you don't create a foundation for it.

And that actually plays right into your needs. You wouldn't put a foundation over your septic anyway. You would be far more likely to build the thing on sunken posts -- not a foundation. You don't even have a frostline to contend with (in Indiana the posts need to be sunken below the frost line to prevent the building from seasonal heaving).

I built my first studio this way. I sunk six 8X8 posts and built my floor atop them. Then my shop was built as though on a skid.

Of course, if NC code doesn't allow for it, you're back to square one.

Hollis Engley said...

Yeah, what Meredith said, Trace. I'll buy the next day's lunch. The basic thing is that nothing is as easy as it first appears. And certainly not as easy as it should be. The bad thing is that this will cost more than you thought, the good thing is that you probably can get more of what you want this way. If the building has to be constructed on-site, then a window here, a door there, a skylight up there ... that kind of thing can be figured in rather than you getting a pre-built building delivered as the builders build it. Does that make sense? It's going to cost more, no doubt. In the end, I suspect you'll be a lot happier with it. Easy for me to say ... okay, I'll buy two days of lunches ...

Anna said...

I'm kinda going through the same thing. We just moved to a new place with the idea of my having a studio at HOME. There is a two car garage and half will be MINE. Of course it needs to insulated, heated, might as well add another door, another window...well new windows all around, the kiln...hm must run more ampage....the list goes on and on. I haven't thrown a pot in 4 months. When this is done (the permits have been gotten) I KNOW I will be relieved and happy. Just go for it. Keep your sights on the end result and do what has to be done. :)

Dennis Allen said...

I've been over a year getting mine together.Everything in done except the LP.It is so nice to fire up the old kerosene heater and spend a warm happy day out there.I worked with the building dept and it wasn't that bad.You do need to make it clear what you are doing.I would suggest you use the words "storage shed" or "Hobby" instead of "Business". Get started now and it will get done sooner.Good Luck!

brandon phillips said...

what a dilemma! for me it would really all depend on how strict your building dept. is. I go back and forth about the building code, in its simplest form it is there to protect people, to keep them safe. On the other hand if I own property why would I need to get permission from someone to build something? Especially if I know what I'm doing. A small building is pretty low on the danger factor, I mean it either stands or it doesn't(i know it's not that simple but you understand what i'm getting at.) I don't know the bldg code in NC but in texas a storage building up to 100 square feet needs no permit, foundation or not. My building is 14x14 and is right on the road where city workers drive by every day, no one ever said anything. The moment you run any type of utilities it needs a permit for the utilities. The main problems with no permit are: do you have neighbors that will complain? can it be easily seen from the road? do bldg inspectors commonly drive down your street?

If this guy is a good carpenter he will know exactly what he is doing and could easily build something like this on his own. (though one could argue if he is a good carpenter he wouldn't do it without a permit, discussion for another time.) If you really want to do it without permits and he won't do it without the permit, find someone who will. In this economy there are bound to be a bunch of qualified carpenters needing work.

The only reason I went without a permit is because I didn't want the holdup of having to wait for inspections. Really though the permit process for a small building like that couldn't be that much money. Around here it would run maybe 2-300 at most. The other thing to think about is if you have an unpermitted structure on your property and something happens, will your homeowners insurance cover it? The bldg being "illegally" built is a great excuse for them to say sorry, you're on your own.

If you're not running water/sewage the inspection process is really straight forward and nothing to be feared. A small building like that is almost impossible to be built wrong. They'll come out to check the footings, framing, electrical if you have it and a final. Your permit fee covers all of this and your carpenter should be the one dealing with them, not you. He should get the permits, he should do the work, he should deal with the bldg inspector. If he tries to get you to do any of that say bon voyage.

If you are going to use a carpenter I would go the permit route, just for peace of mind. Remember that everything is negotiable.

Tracey Broome said...

Love you bloggers!! this is the kind of feedback I need to make proper decisions!!!! Most helpful, thanks a bunch.

Michèle Hastings said...

Brandon brings up lots of good points. from a former Realtors view here is another scenario... if you go the un-permitted route, should you decide to sell you could run into problems with the sale of the property. If the building is illegal you might have to get it approved prior to a sale.

June Perry said...

Most places permit this premade buildings,without permanenet foundations without permit, up to a certain size. You might want to check the local building codes on line.

If you wanted to go the primitive route, you could put a sink in, but just run a hose into it for cold water, and put a large bucket underneath to clean out as needed, instead of digging a new septic. If you locate the building close to the house you might be able to tie it in to your current water and septic.

Just insulate it well and get basic electricity in there and you're set to go.

June Perry said...

Portable buildings, without foundations, are OK without permits, up to a certain size. Just check with your local building codes, which you can do on line.

If the building is close enough to the house, you might be able to tie right into to the household water and septic.

If you don't want to go that route, nor dig another septic, you can go the more primitive route and just run a hose into a sink, and put a large bucket under the sink. An electric teakettle will quickly warm water for throwing.

June

June Perry said...

Sorry for the duplicate; but the first one gave me an error message and I had to sign on with my other google account. Now I see that the first one went through. It's a puzzlement!

Tracey Broome said...

Hey Michele and June, thanks! June blogger did the same thing to me this morning, I had to delete one of my comments :)
I think the permit thing is the way to go and Brandon makes a good point that the builder should be the one doing all this annoying paperwork, I'm no good at that, too impatient!

Kings Creek Pottery said...

I debated foundation, posts, prefab etc. for my kiln shed. When someone suggested I check with our local planning board I also groaned. I called the plan board chairperson and asked what the rules were for an "out building". Turns out as long as the building was under 144 sq. ft. I did not need a permit! Sweet. Because we have occasional flooding on our property and the run off flows where my shed needed to be, we went with posts. It has worked out fine. We also could not have a truck drive over our area- so the prefab and cement truck were out. Putting in posts wasn't bad- the guy mixed concrete right there.
DO NOT GIVE UP!!! The universe will work with you~

cindy shake said...

I think you really do want more than "a simple shelter" you just want a "simple process!" HAHAHA! If that were so, all of us artists would be in the ultimate of studios. A detached, permitted studio would add to the value of your house should you ever decide to sell. Working on a solid foundation (concrete slab) is much more satisfying and less frustrating than a wonky plywood floor -especially for throwing and wedging, there can be a lot of bounce if your subfloor is temporary. Yeah, it's a pain but the rewards will be greater if you're patient, plan, explore ALL of the options an build what you really want. There will certainly be more "permanance" to your work as well.

DirtKicker Pottery said...

Building my studio ended with my neighbor suing us. It was a total nightmare. In the end, It was to our advantage that we had done all the permits and inspections required. What ever you do, don't let heavy trucks drive over your leach lines. Septic problems are expensive and gross.
I know this will probably sound corny, but usually when something is right it's not a huge battle to make it happen.
((hugs))
Cindy

Linda Starr said...

http://raleigh.craigslist.org/mat/2172090475.html

block dairy barn and equipment free for anyone who removes quickly, your area craigslist - even the materials and equipment might be worth the sweat equity.

also in my area there are guys building moveable buildings which you can set on concrete foundation and they cost less than the prefab, driving thru the country I see them all the time.

brandon phillips said...

if you're going to have something built you may as well do it right the first time. a slab on grade may cost a little more but certainly better to work with than a plywood floor. unless your property has a significant slope then you may have to go with posts. if it is close enough to tie into your septic easily that would be good to. i did the hose and a bucket thing for a couple years and it's fine but it gets old, especially in the winter. it may cost a chunk of change but having utilities and insulation will be so worth it in the end. you could do it step by step if you wanted. the only thing that would be cheaper to run right away would be plumbing if you have a slab. electrical is not done until the building is up anyways, so you could run a heavy duty extension cord for a few months until you can have the wiring done. it's possible that you could even do the wiring yourself and have an electrician hook it up. you can do things to save money, digging the footings, digging the trenches for the plumbing, etc. i don't know what kind of rock you have but in many locales if it is a significant enough size you can place your footings on top of it. if it's just large boulders than they have to be excavated.

Dennis Allen said...

One last thought. Don't drive over the leach bed or septic tank.If you still want pre built, you might see how far a crane could move one.This may not be as big a deal as it sounds.

Diane Puckett said...

I recently had a prefab building constructed on-site for my studio. I purchased windows from Lowes and had them installed when the building was constructed. We did much of the finishing work ourselves.

I did get the county permits. I had an electrician wire the building. The electric company ran a line to the studio but would not turn on the power until the county inspector approved the wiring.

The county person I spoke with called it an "accessory building", ie someplace your store stuff. He said doing so would save me aggravation later.

If you want to talk with me about the process I went through, feel free to contact me at dhpuckett@yahoo.com.

createniks said...

Ask around and see if you pull a permit if the county or state you're in will re-assess your homes property value and raise your taxes. Here in Florida that's the catch 22. If you can do anything without opening yourself up to inspections that's the way to go.

ang said...

I like the brandon option :)) HA!!! hope it all works out trace... happy building you do the fun stuff let the builder do all the hard work :P HAHAHAHAH word verification house!!! really!!!! although technically it should say studio :P

Tracey Broome said...

Lots of really good information here, I really appreciate everyone's input, I can't tell you how helpful it is to get this kind of feedback!!!!!!

Laurie Landry said...

Whatever you decide will be worth all of it in the end. This may be another option you'd want to consider. I went with a company called Morton Building. They are throughout the US. They did all the planning and applied for the permits. My studio has a heated concrete slab floor and very insulated walls. I have no regrets over choosing them. Traditional contractors couldn't come in with bids for less than twice as much. Here's a link to my site with some building pics, it's probably much bigger than what you are thinking but still... http://www.potterygarage.com
Good luck and just keep remembering how awesome it will be in the end!

Mother * Wife * Art Teacher * Artist said...

I live in Texas and had a similar problem. I had placed a shed in the back yard and a day later I had a red sign stapled to my fence. I went down to the city and asked about the sign. They said, anything over 50sf required a building permit. Great! Problem solved, my structure was 6'x 8'. that is only 48sf. I walked out with a smile. So check the local building codes. Find out the definition of a building. Some sheds may be smaller than a "building".
If you read the code. You might be able to find a loophole.
Good Luck.