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Thunder Chicken 08-05-2011 09:33 PM

Crawlspace Foundation Remediation - Permit Pitfalls?
I have a small (640 sq. ft) 1 story cottage in Massachusetts that was built in 1941. It is supported on a masonry perimeter wall with a forest of ad-hoc "piers" scattered at various points under the floor. Details can be found in this post:

I want to get a licensed structural engineer in to plan getting proper supports under the structure, repair the perimeter wall as needed, and get the floor structure in order. I want this done right and I am willing to have the drawings and calcs done, get a permit, etc.. but I do have a few questions/concerns/reservations:

1) By getting the building dept. involved, I am opening up my house to state and town building inspectors. My hope was that the repair could be done in stages where costs could be met in increments. Do I risk having a hysterical inspector coming in, condemning my house and jamming a $50k repair or teardown/rebuild up my backside? I kinda like having both a roof over my head and a few dollars in the bank, if you dig.

2) Can this sort of remediation be permitted in stages? In other words, can an engineer submit plans for the entire project in steps A, B, C, etc.., and then can I get a permit to do step A of the work, then another (later) permit to do step B, etc.? Obviously the scope of parts A, B, C... will depend on the repairs needed and the order things need to be accomplished, but is this bureaucratically possible or even typical?

Money is the key issue. I don't have tens of thousands of dollars sitting around and I'd really rather not pull in more financing for this house if I can help it. The house isn't going anywhere and it practically isn't in danger of collapse (it apparently has been like this for at least 40 years).

I want to do the right thing here, but I also want some control over the burn rate of cash for this project. This is a big project, and I'd like to make sure that the correct process doesn't lead to more complications and hysterics. I have a neighbor who is a licensed general contractor who has done a lot of good work for me and is capable of doing any of the masonry and carpentry work required.

philS 08-06-2011 08:55 PM

A very reasonable set of questions, but to my knowledge answers will vary greatly from one place to another just depending on how your permitting people do their job. You have a GC friend? Ask him/her.

You can also try calling anonymously, see what sort of info you can get w/o having to show your face. In my county, the inspectors and staff are great. You just go down and ask them what your options are, and, no, as long as they see you're making progress they don't even charge for an extension on the permits.

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