Backyard Decks and Building Permits
Building permits for building decks are not always the first thing
home owners think of when they contemplate the dream deck. And it would
be impossible to tell you what is required in every building zone in
North America and beyond.
But on rare occasions I have personally dealt with some building
inspectors who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I'll share with you
a few tips on how to smooth the waters.
Your Local Town or City Hall
As a starting point you should go to your local city or municipal hall and visit the building department.
Ultimately they will tell you whether building permits for your deck
are required or not. In some cases if the deck is small enough you may
not need a permit. On the other hand if it exceeds a certain square
footage or has footings you may well require a permit.
The good thing about getting a permit is that if you follow the
rules, you'll never have to worry about surprises in the future because
you built to close to a property line or some other problem.
How to Keep Your Building Inspector Your Friend
Ever notice how someone treats you much better if you are nice to them?
True, there are some people who always seem to wake up on the wrong side
of the bed. Oh well, but even when dealing with these people you will
get more using a little honey than a little vinegar.
That means simply acknowledge the inspectors statutory authority and
role in the community. Don't get into an attitude contest or you will
create more grief and frustration for yourself. This applies more so
when you are building a home than a deck but the principle remains the
Go down to the city hall and try to meet the inspector in advance
and let them know what you are doing and shown them the design. Let them
see you are conscientous and committed to making their job trouble
Build it Right
Of course, after all of the people skills have been employed its time to actually build it right.
Footings will be inspected for the correct depth depending on how
deep your winter frost line is. There will also be an inspection at the
framing stage and lastly you should expect a final inspection for the
railings if they are above a certain height.
If you haven't already done so, you should look at the section on
the building code and the railing sections to get an idea of what the
inspectors will be looking for.
Building permits are intended to ensure you build it right. This is
especially helpful to people who don't have a lot of experience
building. With a permit, you or your builder will have to do it right.
That should give you some piece of mind.
Follow this plan and everything should go very smoothly for you.