Friday, August 20, 2010

Finishing my Basement and Permits

Over the past two years I have been slowly remodeling my basement. Our 1940’s home has an unfinished portion that had been used for storage by previous owners and was just screaming to be finished. My wife, whom was stuck practicing her many talents in the comforts of the kitchen, bedroom and living room, needed a place to really expand. Not to mention my son was also sharing his bedroom with the computer room/office; therefore I entered the world of “Do It Yourself” Home Remodel. After years of advice, help, and permits I was able to complete the room and feel satisfied with my accomplishment. My wife is ecstatic and my son is now placing Diego stickers on the wall where my Beatle record collection once was. But today’s long overdue post is not about my time building the room, but my experience with South Ogden City and the permit process.

My first experience with Jeff Barfuss and the South Ogden City Building Inspectors was when I updated my electrical in the house, recognizing quickly that the 60 year old breaker box would need to be updated and doing it myself would save me around $3,000, I filed my first permit with South Ogden City. Jeff came out and quickly failed me on my work for the new meter box and breaker box. My family went without power that evening but the next day the power was turned back on and my code violations were fixed. In the end they inspected my breaker box two more times before I passed.

Next was the building permit. I made up my plans using, submitted and paid the fee. My total cost came to $112. Over the next few months, I received many letters reminding me I had not had any inspections done. They didn’t know it was taking me that long just to finish the room. Two months ago I was finally ready for my 4-Way inspection. This is where they check the rough framing, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing. I had gone a little too far in my building process, having already put up my insulation and dry walled the ceiling. But Jeff came out and was great to work with. He failed me of course in the fact my wiring was not fastened eight inches above each receptacle, but didn’t make me redo the ceiling and insulation. Since I was on a time crunch, he told me to fix the wires and he came back three hours later and passed me on everything.

Finally we came to my final inspection. This is where they test all your outlets and make sure all is well. Quickly they found one of my outlets ground wires had come loose and with another outlet I had reversed the polarity (put the wrong wires in the wrong places). They found a few smaller items that needed to be fixed and gave me advice in fixing them. In the end, Jeff and his team came by and gave me the all clear.

Why did I go through this process you may ask? Well first of all, it is the law. Regardless if you agree or disagree, this is the law. Second this insures that my house is safe. My kids will be playing in that room, living in this house. By following the building codes of South Ogden and the state of Utah I greatly increase the safety of my family. Third, from the lender side, I have seen a number of mortgages fall through when it is revealed that a remodel was done without a permit. If you are planning on selling your home one day, you better have a permit for what you are doing.

I am thankful for the help of the Jeff and his team. There job is a thankless one and tough at best. But my experience was very pleasant and I am glad the room is finished. My wife and children are happy with the room and we now have more living space in our home.

Part of getting the permit is knowledge. Many may not know they need a permit and I am sure we have all done things to our homes that required a permit and I didn’t even know. But these permits are there for a reason, mainly based on a history of bad homeowner decisions. Just check your attic electrical one day and you will know what I mean: one word—SPICE.)

In conclusion we love South Ogden and our home, even more so now with an extra room.