Architect Needed for DCRA Permit

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Topic: Architect Needed for DCRA Permit

Real Estate January 24, 2013 at 11:27 am

Architect Needed for DCRA Permit

Sparing the painful details. We are attempting to legally rent our basement (work to convert single family to 2 unit was completed in early 2000).  Today I went to DCRA and was informed that since there is no C of O on nor any building permits on record, we would need to have 4 sets of drawings prepared as well as complete a builidng permit application in order to move forward.  Can anyone refer me to someone who has experince with this a charges a fair price?  In addition, I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has gone through this exprience as well, as lessons learned is always helpful. Thanks!

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I’m not certain of specific experience with basement COA’s, but we used Paul Wilson for our renovation drawings and permits.  He was great and affordable.

We hired an architect named Michael Gottwald (DC) to draft the plans.  But if you take them down to DCRA yourself and use the homeowner center, they don’t even need to be stamped by an architect.  As long as there’s nothing load bearing requiring a structural engineer, you can take in 4 copies (ours were on legal size paper) walk straight in to the homeowners department and they will help you. Try to create the forms on line but tell them you don’t know what you’re doing and they’ll walk through them with you.  This saved us several thousand dollars. 

Good luck.  I’m thinking it’s about time for some kind of uprising for demand for common sense at DCRA.  One set of clear code requirements – one inspector charged with one apt. – responsible for making each apt. safe and legal within 30 days.   Current system is stupid, shameful and harmful for all those who need affordable rentals, and all those who seek to benefit the city by living here and paying taxes and easing some of that huge financial burden with rental income. 
Time to swith dreams to demands.

You probably don’t need an architect.  If you need stamped drawings, a structural engineer can do that and may be cheaper.  We built a garage, and an engineer was 3 times cheaper than the lowest architect proposal.  If you only need non-stamped plan view drawings , try learning Google Sketchup.  It’s free, and you can create your own and print drawings to scale if needed.  

I did what you are trying to do a few years ago.  I did it all myself, without an architect.  I learned the hard way, all the ins and outs.  I can help you if you like.  You definitely DO NOT need an architect at this point.  After talking to you (and perhaps looking at your basement), I can tell you if you will need to make some changes (renovations) before it will meet current codes.

mjmjpi, please message me here:

Just curious what you ended up doing. We are headed down this same path (not to legally rent our basement, but just to finish it and add a bathroom), and are also looking for some guidance. Did you get an architect / engineer or are you doing the drawings yourself?

Were you able to resolve this issue? I am in the exact same boat as your were. Bought home in 2005, which it was already converted to 2-unit seperately metered etc, but no records in DRCA database. I am trying to turn property into rentals and need to start from scratch. Any advice? Greatly appreciated.

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