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08-20-2013 , 09:27 PM
Wow, this is in Austin? I ran my business there for almost 15 years. I've had my share of lol bureaucracy from them, but never this bad. At least not in residential.

Boat docks, however...
08-21-2013 , 03:08 PM
I called the guy that the email referred me to. Amazingly, he actually picked up the phone. Equally amazing is he was helpful and somewhat sympathetic to my plight.

The bad news is the woman that sent me the original email seems to be somewhat responsible but she only works part time and apparently does not return emails.

But, the guy on the phone assured me he would get with her to attempt to straighten this out.

I got another bid from a guy who a friend (who's a carpenter) highly recommended some years ago. Actually I had gotten a bid from him to do the work 4 years ago but I never got it done. He said his original estimate stands, which is about $3500 cheaper than the other bids. From what I can tell, he is doing the exact same work (same number of piers, etc.). The work has to be signed off on by a city-certified engineer so I feel comfortable with this. I have one more bidder coming by, but I think this will be the guy.
08-22-2013 , 09:35 AM
The last foundation guy came by. He spent a lot of time explaining everything, which nobody else has really done. The garage is problematic and he explained why spread footers are not the way to go. This is what the cheapest bid guy suggested. This guy wants to drill down to bedrock to support the slab. Basically what they would do with a slab house. I may end up going with this guy unless the bid is completely outrageous.
08-22-2013 , 11:47 AM
In before bid is completely outrageous.
08-22-2013 , 06:20 PM
Originally Posted by kokiri biggerboat's building boondoggle blog
In before bid is completely outrageous.
That's what I thought. But it isn't.

The lowball was $4900. The high was $8,000.

This guy came in at $6800. He gets the work.
08-22-2013 , 06:24 PM
Ok, back to the city.....

The guy I talked to on the phone apparently went to the woman in charge of my permit to discuss everything. She left me a message yesterday indicating that they had talked and she had to discuss the garage with the flood plain folks.

I just got an email from her:

"I have approved the application, and it will be in the permit center tomorrow morning. Please pay for the permit and be sure to call for all inspections. Thank you."

08-22-2013 , 06:30 PM
08-22-2013 , 06:33 PM
One more thing on the foundation guy. I accidentally left another company's card on my kitchen table (where I sit down with these guys). He noticed it and said something like, "We probably won't be the lowest price, but I think we can be competitive". I sort of think this might be a pro tip in the future when hiring contractors.
08-22-2013 , 08:10 PM
Originally Posted by tylertwo biggerboat's building boondoggle blog
08-23-2013 , 06:42 PM
08-23-2013 , 07:41 PM
So, I got to pick up my permit this morning. After a considerable wait, someone ushers me in. He pulls up my address on the system and gets that look. That look everyone that looks at my file gets. Sort of confusion mixed with disgust. He then walks over somewhere else and gets a bunch of paper. He then looks at me and says "this won't work". The rest of the conversation goes something like this.

Me: "what won't work"
Him: "your permit"
Me: "Sue emailed me and said it was approved and I should pick it up"
Him: "I see that. I have it right here. But, it isn't right"
Me: "what isn't right?"
Him: "your garage permit is expired"
Me: "yes, I know this. They told me to get a Life Safety for Expired Permit permit to take care of that"
Him: "well, that won't work"
Me: "why not?"

Wait for it....
Wait for it....
He says......
Because you don't live in your garage

At this time I'm somewhere between suicidal and homicidal. I explained my plight so far and he agreed to go talk to Sue.

After about 20 minutes, he returns with Sue. Sue, unlike the guy, seemed somewhat sympathetic. She said that I would have to request a brand new permit for the garage. Along with this I would be required to get that elevation something or other from an engineer. And, I would have to submit a detailed framing plan. Even though the garage was already approved, built, and the framing inspection passed. The bigger issue, I fear here, is that I believe under the current flood plain rules the garage would not be approved. Even Sue seemed to recognize the idiocy here. She then suggested I go talk to................. Tony. I explained to her that the first time I did that did not turn out so well. I then suggested that maybe we could unexpire the permit and then have someone come out and inspect the current garage. Both Sue and the guy seemed perplexed by this suggestion but Sue said "well, let me see what I can do".

Meanwhile, the guy handed me that dreaded form that has a lot of threatening "we could sue you" language in it. I told them that this made me uncomfortable but they both said if I signed it I could move on with my repair work and work on the garage permit. I felt like I was in one of those movies where a bunch of people are all leaning over me, filmed through a fish eye lense, saying "it's fine, just sign the form".

So, I signed the form. He then explained that I needed a layout inspection before I could proceed. More on this in the next installment.
08-23-2013 , 07:48 PM
So after signing my life away and paying for the permit, the guy circles a phone number on the form to call to set up an inspection. He said I needed to check to see what day it would be. And, I would just have to hang around all day since it could happen any time and they don't make appointments or anything.

So, I get back to work and call the number. The answering machine said "You will need a PIN in order to set up an appointment. To get a PIN, call this number. So, I called the number to get a PIN and the answering machine said (I'm not making this up), "this number is no longer in service, please call this number". So I called the next number and I got what I believe was just the person that answers all incoming calls for anything. I explained what I was trying to do and she gave me yet another number to call. So, I called this number and got someone's answering machine. I left a message. About 2 hours later someone called and said "this is the city, what do you want?". Hoping that this was the PIN guy I said "a PIN?". Fortunately he gave me one and, miracle of miracles, it worked.

So, my layout inspection is Monday. I found the email address of the inspector and he was kind enough to agree to at least give me a 2 hour window to meet him.

Not sure what a layout inspection is, but I'm sure it won't pass.
08-23-2013 , 07:52 PM
On top of all this.... When I was looking for my permit online, I noticed that there was an open permit floating out there for an AC unit I got installed several months ago. Apparently, the guy I hired never got an inspection. Sheesh, just shoot me.

So, I sent them an email and a woman from the company called. I explained the situation and she said, "well, I've been busy". ^%)($^*)$&^%!!! I explained to her that I've really had enough of expired permits and I don't want another one and it seemed to me that it was their job to take care of it and I shouldn't have to CALL THEM AND **** AND ***** AND ******.

So, she agreed to set up an inspection. Only I have to be at the house to meet the inspector.

If you read about a guy in Austin going on a rampage...............
08-23-2013 , 08:05 PM
While I was waiting for someone to get back with me about a PIN, I thought I would attempt to register online. So, I filled out the form to get a user id and password and got this email:

"Dear Sir/Madame,

Thank you for applying for the City of Austin's Development Review Permitting and
Inspection web site. You have now completed Step 1 in a two-part registration process.

We will use the information you have provided to perform a security check against your
existing City of Austin accounts. We are currently experiencing a backlog in setting up
web registrations due to increased demand. We appreciate your patience as we work
through the backlog.

Didn't think it would be that hard.
08-23-2013 , 08:06 PM
best of luck this sounds horrible
08-23-2013 , 08:50 PM
I've decide to use the last foundation guy but I asked him how much he would charge to bust up and haul away this concrete porch. He said $1100. My guess is he doesn't want to mess with it but will for a price.

So, I'll be busting concrete this weekend.

08-24-2013 , 12:31 AM
08-24-2013 , 02:44 AM
This is amazing.
08-24-2013 , 01:08 PM
I realize you're way past the point now, but a guy I work with recently did a bunch of remodeling himself. Skipped the permits with the plan to just play dumb if it ever came up. I suspect it might be a disaster to try and sell down the line though ...

Originally Posted by zikzak biggerboat's building boondoggle blog
Ugh. Sounds like multiple problems compounding, but mostly just not enough support on not very good soil. idk what 'mudsacking' is exactly, but assume it's a method to fill holes under the garage slab where the soil has settled or washed away over the years, plus hopefully stopping it from happening again. Probably some sort of cement mix placed dry in a bag, then wetted to cure in place.

It's amazing how much dirt can move sometimes. I've found voids the size of a small car under foundations, and it's like, wtf? Where did the stuff GO?
My family owns and operates an entire business based on this sort of ****.

Originally Posted by kokiri biggerboat's building boondoggle blog
I thought America was the land of the free. I don't know what all this permit business is about at all.
This entire thread is one giant "Thanks, Obama"
08-25-2013 , 03:22 PM
bwahahaha! Silly me. This thing ain't coming out with a sledgehammer. Gonna have to either get a jackhammer or hire someone.

Originally Posted by biggerboat biggerboat's building boondoggle blog
I've decide to use the last foundation guy but I asked him how much he would charge to bust up and haul away this concrete porch. He said $1100. My guess is he doesn't want to mess with it but will for a price.

So, I'll be busting concrete this weekend.

08-25-2013 , 03:24 PM
Originally Posted by allinontheturn biggerboat's building boondoggle blog
I realize you're way past the point now, but a guy I work with recently did a bunch of remodeling himself. Skipped the permits with the plan to just play dumb if it ever came up. I suspect it might be a disaster to try and sell down the line though ...
There's no possible way to do this without them finding out. They drive around all the time looking for this sort of thing.
08-25-2013 , 05:13 PM
Maybe if they spent less time driving around you could find someone in the god damn office to answer a question every now and then.
08-26-2013 , 06:59 PM
Today the inspector came for a layout inspection. His name is Wes. I'll just call him Weshole for short. Weshole seemed very perturbed about, well, everything. His first question was, "are you doing this yourself?" When I replied yes he seemed even more perturbed.

He then asked if I was replacing the decking. I told him it I would only be replacing rotten decking. He said he would need pictures of whatever I did. Then he told me that he would need pictures of the housewrap and if it wasn't right I would have to tear out all of the new siding. I asked him if it was possible to get him out there to inspect the wrap before I put the siding and he explained to me that he was a busy man and he had much bigger and more important jobs to deal with. He then explained to me that the siding nails can't be driven in too far or the inspection wouldn't pass. He pointed to an area of the current siding that was exposed and I explained to him that here would be no exposed nails. He sort of grunted. Not sure if that was approval or not.

Anyway, he'll be coming out to inspect the wrap because I'll be scheduling an inspection for him to do so.

We did talk some more and I did my best to be cordial even though all I could think of was "hey Weshole, my taxes pay your salary so the least you could do is not be a total ****head." But I didn't say it. He did sort of lighten up the more we talked.

We'll be great friends. I can tell already.
08-26-2013 , 07:02 PM
Shoutout to zikzak. What do I need to do for the housewrap around the existing windows? The inspector mentioned this specifically but wouldn't tell me exactly what he was looking for. The inspector also wants pics of any decking repair. I can't think of anything special I would need. Just nail the plywood in any area I replace, right? Seems like there's not a way to mess that up.
08-26-2013 , 07:03 PM
Finalized everything with the foundation guy but he won't get started on it for another month. So, I figure I'll go ahead and start on the roof - hopefully this week.