Working with the Building Inspector for Owner-Builders

As an owner-builder, you will be working closely with the local building inspector. Here's what you need to know. Part 3 in a series.

| November/December 1976

"Shucks. Puttin' up your own house ain't hard at all. What's hard is figuring out and conforming to all those @#$% ¢ &* building codes and regulations. "  

Take heart, all you would-be and actual fabricators of do-it-yourself shelter. At last someone (good old MOTHER) has commissioned a series of articles designed to help you meet-and beat!—those most troublesome of all obstacles in the construction of your own home: THE BUILDING REGULATIONS.

The series of informative pieces was written by Ed Vitale, an attorney who specialized in real estate and building construction during most of his ten years of private practice. So read on as Ed [1] investigates in detail the four major model building codes used in this country, especially as they apply to the activities of the owner-builder, [2] gives you concrete explanations and examples of "how to read the code", [3] reviews the statutory and administrative framework of the construction and sanitary codes of four representative states, and [4] generally lays down criticism, comments, and plain good help for anyone contemplating the construction of his or her own shelter.

The Building Inspector

This is the individual whom you'll be dealing with when applying for a building permit. He is either characterized as the protector of the public safety or the roadblock that prevented you from building your dream house. He is either the unfeeling, freedom-stifling symbol of governmental bureaucracy and red tape, or the knowledgeable, neighbor-like expert who helped you over some difficult construction problems.

He is all of these things and more. How do you handle him? What approach—a tough "he's working for me" attitude, or a meek, non-questioning stance—should you use in dealing with this man?

Before we answer this question, let's look at the building official (the codes like to call him official instead of inspector) and his powers and ditties as they are outlined in the model building codes:

5/8/2014 1:22:36 PM

I am just happy that I know an electrical contractor as well as a general contractor. They have taught me how to do most of the things that I need to know. I am going to build my own house by following their guidelines. I am pretty sure that it will be up to code at that point. Jason|

Christine Sears
7/16/2008 3:04:30 PM

Great article, and very relevant even though it's from 1970s ??? I found a great resource for folks building their own home... it's a series of worksheets that help you map out the experience. 10 Free Worksheets for Building Your New Home

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