Being a homeowner has brought on some new and rewarding adventures – like calling the Building Inspections and Permits office to ask some innocent questions about building a barn on our property. The partner obsesses about the shackles of bureaucracy and gets so worked up worrying about what-if’s that he never really finds out what is what. So, to finally get some final (or somewhat more definitive) on our building prospects, I called up the permit office and began the department transfer dance.
The first question was about required property setbacks and I promptly got traded to the zoning department. Since our barn will not house animals, 200-400 foot setbacks are reduced to 5 foot (as long as the building is behind our house, no problem). Back to permits, I find out that since our property is less than an acres, our barn can’t be a barn and instead a storage shed. Fine, I agree, though that means more red tape and permit fees. Turns out a 30′ x 40′ “storage shed” will be less than $250.
Now, being worried about the new shed classification, I call the zoning office back and speak to another person — this guy is a little less friendly and spins an ominous air as he puts me on hold to check our specific zoning (agricultural). After assurances that this is a personal use shed, he gives me the same 5-foot setbacks and sends me merrily on my way. Before getting off the phone, I ask again, if there are any size or height restrictions and am again told no. “It can be as big as I want?”, “Yes, as long as it’s behind the house”. Sweet.
We’ve also been concerned about setbacks from our well, so I call up the Health Department too. I get the numbers, 25-feet from the week, 30-feet from the septic, and am feeling pretty content with my progress. Now, I want to take the mega tape measure and see just how much room that leaves us to build a shed (cause our well is near where we want to put the shed).
Also, while talking to the second zoning person, I verified the process needed to get a home occupancy certificate for my home sewing business — $25 will buy me 500-sq-feet usage of my home for my business, assuming that there is no excessive vehicle traffic. Too bad the guy didn’t seem to have much of a sense of humor and seemed a little annoyed at my quirky outburst, like “Ha, wish I had 500 sq feet available”.