Look At Permit Before Leaping Into Building

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Ray LaHaye is adamant that obtaining a building permit is a very viable process that needs not turn into a brouhaha with town officials.

"Before beginning construction to add or alter any building, come in and sit down with us," the town building inspector said. "We are customer-service oriented and very willing to help.

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Town building inspector Ray LaHaye's advice to anyone building, remodeling or adding a structure is to check with the town and obtain proper permits. "We are customer service-oriented and very willing to help," he said.

"My best advice is to ask questions, because the average citizen is probably not aware of what's needed (to obtain a permit)."

As helpful as town building inspectors want to be, LaHaye is the first to admit they are often the targets of disgruntled barbs.

"We are a regulatory agency, and with that comes some criticism," he said. "But we do have a job to do."

For town building inspectors, the biggest headache comes from those who begin a project without obtaining a proper permit.

Often, LaHaye said, the builders trust the word of neighbors or friends about whether a permit is needed, rather than contacting the town building department.

"Please check with the town. Simply coming in and talking to us can save a lot of money and headaches," LaHaye said.

He points to a worse case scenario in which a home addition is built without a building permit.

"When the owner sees the value of his property jumps, he decides to sell it," LaHaye said. "In selling a home, the owner is asked if proper building permits were obtained."

The owner falsely answers "yes" and the home is sold.

A few months later, the purchaser learns permits were never obtained for the home addition.

"Then there could be legal action and the original owner held liable," LaHaye said. "We hope that doesn't happen, but it does."

Securing a permit begins with a visit to the building department to submit the proper designs and plans.

For those building a single- or two-family home or addition, an architect is not needed. A registered professional, however, must design most commercial buildings.

Once plans are submitted to the building department, it takes about 10 working days to obtain a permit.

"It's not just the building department (that reviews the plans)," LaHaye said. "It's fire, engineering and zoning and planning too."

LaHaye also recommends that builders contact their local utility companies to make proper arrangements for services.

Obtaining commercial building permits can take longer because those types of projects are much more complicated.

The cost of the building permit depends on the area of the structure and its valuation per square foot.

Valuation fee charts can be obtained on the town's Web site: www.paysonaz.us.

Once a permit is issued, it is valid for 12 months.

During the actual building process, owners or contractors must call the town for inspections prior to concealing any type of construction process from view or putting a piece of equipment into use.

Examples of when inspections are needed are the installation of an electrical panel or pouring concrete in a footing.

"If you don't know if an inspection is needed, call us," LaHaye said.

For those who ignore the rules and do not obtain a permit, building inspectors have the authority to "red tag" the project.

"That would stop the job and we could turn it over to the town attorney for legal action," LaHaye said. "That would be a last resort, however. We only do that after all other means are exhausted. All we need is a little cooperation, and we will help them get a permit."

For more information, call (928) 474-5242, ext. 263.

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