Permit Process – Tips, Suggestions, etc

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Topic: Permit Process – Tips, Suggestions, etc

Home and Garden August 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Permit Process – Tips, Suggestions, etc

My husband and I recently bought a house in Petworth and are in the midst of dealing with the arduous permit process.  I wondered if anyone could provide any suggestions and/or tips to make this process easier?  We have already been to the DCRA twice and have been rejected twice for very minor alterations.   I am baffled by how contractors get permits at the snap of a finger and how it isn’t that easy with home owners in the DC area, I honestly thought that DC wanted to revitalize the area.  I would greatly appreciate if someone could assist with any information they may have.  Thank you. 

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Try twitter, social media folks at DC gov are helpful


Twice?  You’re just getting started.
Contractors and architects are familiar with the rules and regs and are able to make necessary changes to the drawings on the spot.  What is the scope of your project?  It is not uncommon for large renovations to take 2-3 months to undergo permit review.

It isn’t a large renovation, just a renovation on a deck.  The house came with a 6×6 landing off the back of the house and we simply want to expand it to make more of an outdoor/indoor living space.    Unfortunately, we were told that it would be easier for the home owners to pull the permit rather than the contractor, so we decided to do it ourselves.  Plus our contractor was going to charge us an absorbent fee to submit the permit paperwork for us. 
Good to know that this may take longer than anticipated!  I know we have already invested a good amount of money on the permit process and hope that we don’t spend more than the fee the contractor was going to charge us!

Apparently the deck can only exceed 60% of our driveway, the current drawings/layout is at 61%.  From my understanding we need to recomplete all of the permit paperwork with the new drawings and resubmit to the DCRA office, with the hopes that they approve it.  We also need elevation drawings in addition to the drawings we submitted previously, which our contractor is planning to draw for us. In addition, we need to mail certified letters to our neighbors notifying them of our intended project plans, the reciepts of the certified letters need to be included in the permit packet.  There is one additional issue which I can’t seem to recall at the moment. 

This is why contractors charge a lot for permits.  I’ve pulled several permits in the past year and I’m beginning to learn what to look for in plans that might cause red flags.  That said, I’ve never been asked to mail certified letters!
When I’ve had to re-submit drawings, they’ve just been appended to the original application. You may need to go to the file room at dcra and ask them to give you the application and plans back (or to find them if they’re sitting on someone’s desk), but then you can change the plans without losing anything that’s already been approved. 
It sounds like you’re getting some strange advice.  I agree with the person above who asked about the homeowner’s center.  This should be a pretty minor project, and they’re super-helpful there.

Just like anything you do a lot, Contractors have been through the DCRA process (which is similar to that of neighboring jurisdictions) and know what reviewers need and want to see. You walked in not having any idea of what you needed, hence the need to fix it and go back.
I agree, paying contractors 500-1000 to do something that only takes them a couple hours (because they know what they are doing) is a waste, then again if it takes you 2 days of vacation time and 3 trips down there I would say it is a bargain


Go to the “Homeowner’s Center” there with your plans, it’s in the back right corner on the second floor. Have precise drawings in hand.

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