By Frank Lewis
If you have been doing construction projects at your home or business in the city of Portsmouth and not bothering to get a permit that is most likely going to end if Portsmouth City Manager Derek Allen and City Engineer Crystal Weghorst have their way.
Weghorst told the Daily Times city officials are attempting to handle the problem by educating the public but make no mistake about it, the city is also embarking on a zero tolerance policy toward un-permitted construction within the city limits.
Building permits are required to insure the construction performed is up to the applicable building codes and projects started or completed without a building permit are subject to remediation including, but not limited to, tear down.
Weghorst said it is important to discuss your plans with the City Engineer’s Office before beginning construction to determine whether you even need a permit and even if a permit is not needed, the City Engineer can answer construction questions and may provide valuable advice.
The education of the public on the subject of permits begins with a list of projects that do require a permit. They include new buildings, additions such as bedrooms, bathrooms, family rooms, etc., residential work such as decks, garages, fences, fireplaces, pools, water heaters and more, renovations which include garage conversions, basement furnishings, kitchen expansions, re-roofing, etc., electrical systems, plumbing systems and HVAC systems.
“Our city officials want your project to be a success and will help you avoid problems that could cost you time and money,” Weghorst said. “You will be asked some basic questions, such as what you are planning to do and where, advised of any requirements and, if necessary, referred to the city’s plan reviewer for approval. The city engineer will provide you with the resources and information needed for compliance with the applicable building codes. You will then receive an application for a building permit.”
Weghorst said the first step is to submit an application where you will document who, what, when, where and how the job will be done along with any sketches or plans of the proposed work. She said in a short amount of time the City Engineer’s Office will review your plans and determine if your project is in compliance with local requirements.
“If your plans meet these requirements, a permit is issued,” Weghorst said. “If not, the city engineer may suggest solutions to help correct the problem.”
She said when you have been approved for a permit, you have legal permission to start construction but you may not start construction prior to obtaining a permit. A fee, based on the size of the job, is collected to cover the cost of the application, the review and the inspection process. Weghorst said an experienced city engineer is available should you have any questions concerning your project.
“You should consider your city engineer as an ally who will help you make your project a success,” Weghorst said. “Separate permits are typically required for electrical, plumbing and heating and air conditioning work.”
On-site inspections will be required to make certain the work conforms to the permit, building codes and plans. the city engineer will let you know approximately how many inspections may be needed for your project. Usually a one or two day notice is needed when requesting visits.
The result of doing work through a permit is the documentation that work is complete and complies with existing codes. Weghorst can be reached at 740-354-7557 or by email at [email protected]
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.