Saturday, December 13, 2008

Remodeling? Get Smart! Get a Plan Check List from Your Building Department

Starting a remodel project?

We recommend that you arm yourself with a Plan Check List from your city building department before you begin hiring drafters, designers, engineers and architects.

Since requirements can vary widely in different communities, professionals bidding on your project may not know which plans and services are mandatory. If you lack information, some of them may charge for services they are not qualified to perform or that are unnecessary.

A little research up front can save you time and money. You will know who to hire and what plans & documents you will need to submit for permitting.

Here is a typical TI Improvement Check List from a city in Orange County, CA. It specifies the type of plans to include in your permit plan set submittal + information that must be shown on each plan. Send a Plan Check List to each design professional who you invite to bid on your project.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I need to locate points on my property to establish the boundary

We had an inquiry last week from someone who needed to locate two points at the back of their property for a construction project. Since there were no existing boundary markers, we recommended that they hire a surveyor.

A good surveyor can provide several options for this type of a survey. Here are some suggestions from the surveyor that we work with:

Construction Survey: This is an inexpensive survey and may be sufficient for a small project. Property points are marked with temporary wooden stakes. If there is any doubt regarding the boundary, the stakes can be set back a few inches. This type of survey cannot protect you in the event of a lawsuit. The stakes will probably disappear over time, as they can be easily pulled out. They are estimated to last approx. two years.

Construction Survey & Letter: Along with locating your points, a surveyor can provide you with a signed, sealed letter for the city building department. This slightly more expensive option gives you clout with the building department but it will not protect you in a legal dispute.

Registered Survey: Steel Bollards are used to locate your boundary points. A survey map of your property is drawn up in AutoCAD. It is stamped and signed by your licensed surveyor and filed with the county. A registered survey can protect you in a legal dispute.

Disclaimer: This content is written by a layman for laymen. All information here should be verified by your licensed professional. We are providing general guidelines for the consumer.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Livermore, CA - Planning an Addition to my Residential Property – Do I need to consult a licensed professional?

If your home is located in Livermore, CA and was built after 1986 and is light frame, conventional construction then it was probably engineered. If so, you may be able to design a minor addition yourself and/or with the assitance of skilled unlicensed professionals.

However, if your building was built before 1986, the services of a licensed professional Architect or Engineer will probably be required.

The building department may recommend that an Architect (licensed) visually inspect your property to determine if their services will be needed. The building department does not perform inspections.

The building dept. can tell you, based on the address of your property, exactly what they require. Don’t waste time, planning your project without discussing it with them first.

For Livermore Building Department information call: 925.960.4431 and leave a voice mail inquiry. The Livermore building dept. will get back to you with a detailed answer regarding your question and will work with you, over the phone, to resolve any questions you have. We highly recommend their services.

On-Line Check:
Ci.livermore, – for submittal requirements and examples.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How to Locate Your Property Line for Fence Construction in Phoenix AZ

The first step in finding out about your property line is to locate your parcel map. We checked the Maricopa County Assessor's Web Site.

Maricopa Assessor's GIS Data

You will need your parcel number. We could not pull up a parcel map on this site with only the address of the property in question. The site will also prompt you to install an AUTODESK MAPGUIDE ACTIVE X CONTROL in order to view maps online. We were able to install the control quickly with no glitches.

Contact the Maricopa County Assessor's Office if you do not have your parcel number. You can enter this number into the form on their site to access your map.

If your parcel map indicates that your fence will be close to the property line, it is best to hire a surveyor to map out the actual boundary accurately.

The GIS dept of the assessor’s office told us the following:

"We cannot provide advice on locating fences on a property, but can suggest that you contact the City of Phoenix, who should have information regarding setback limits and building regulations. The Assessor's maps are not survey accurate and should just be used as a reference in locating your property. You can hire a surveyor to get an accurate representation of your property and/or contact a fence company to see if they are aware of any regulations that may need to be adhered to."

For more information on fence construction rules and regulations: Call the Maricopa County Assessor’s office at 602-506-3406.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Los Angeles Remodels - You May Need Grading + Soils Report

A civil engineer based in Los Angeles added after hearing this story, (see previous post on Soils Reports in SF), that it is possible for a Planning Dept to approve your project and not inform you that you may need a Soils Report + a Grading Pre-Inspection Report. He recommends checking with the Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety as a first step.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Planning an addition to a Property on a San Francisco Hillside? – You may need a Soils Report

A customer in SF told us that San Francisco requirements for soil reports have tightened since the 2007 Telegraph Hill Landslide.

In this case, the city requires a soils report for his hillside addition even though one already exists for neighboring properties.

A soil engineer can determine if the land on your property is at risk for a landslide.

We would advise scheduling an as-built survey after you have determined if your remodel project is feasible based on a soils report.

Telegraph Hill landslide forces 120 from homes… (Sfgate article)

"When you move into a place on a cliff, you're aware of the movies and the horror stories about all the worst things that can happen,'' he said. "But I was told this was some of the most solid rock in the city.''

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

From Gilbert AZ -: As-Built Requirements Can Change!

From a contact in Gilbert Az. who is planning to add a patio to their home:

In the past, Gilbert's building dept. requirements were lax. The home has a previous addition for which as-built plans were not needed. The owners were suprised to find out that they now need as-built plans of the property for this minor add-on.

We advise that you check with your building dept. before getting started on your remodel project. Don't assume that requirements have not changed.

Gilbert AZ Building Permit Requirements:

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Trimble Field Computers Recommended for Land Survey

Trimble Field Computers with GPS are recommended for accurate survey of large tracts of land involving complicated terrain issues and/or the need for precise locations.

Trimble Link software exports field data gathered by the Trimble device to AutoCAD 2008 products, and ESRI ArcGIS.

Monday, July 28, 2008

What is an Architectural As-Built Plan?

As-Built plans are precisely drawn plans of your property. They represent your building as it currently exists now. They do not include future design changes.

An as-built plan set may include the following: Site Plan, Floor Plans, Basement Plan, Roof Plan, Elevations and Sections.

Check with your local building department to find out if as-built plans are required for your renovation project. They can give you a specific list of what must be included in your as-built plan set submittal.