reply to post by bsbray11
Yes, you have to have permits.
Permits are there for the protection of your neighbors and your own protection at the same time. General zoning laws stipulate property line stand
offs, structure height limits, what type of building materials you can use.
That is designed to prevent someone doing something totally stupid, like buying a pre fab grain silo constructing it and building a home in it. Then
the neighbor comes back home after a week long vacation and find “Grain bin home” right outside his front window.
And it is designed to provide a legal leg to stand on if your neighbor tries to raise holy heck with you even though you are building something that
conforms to all the local building standards. If you lay out to them what you are going to build, and what with, and they say is OK then your neighbor
can’t do anything about it as long as you stay within the permit guide lines.
And in large cities, they often want to make sure that you are using proper building techniques to build a house, so that you, and anyone that buys
the house you built, won’t be in any danger because of a flaw in construction.
The problem comes about when you try to do something out of the ordinary. And how good they view your idea may depend upon who you talk to at the
zoning office. If you walk into the office and go “I need to dig out my back yard and put in a bomb shelter so that when Armageddon comes, I am
going to be able to survive.” They may look at you a bit strange and go……… “Not in a million years…….”
Two reasons for that. One. It is probably a safe bet that you are getting in over your head and will build something that will get someone killed.
Two. Hazard avoidance. They have never dealt with a permit for one, and they do not know the design requirements for one to assure that it would be a
safe construction. So it is easier to say NO than it is to dig up the information and do a lot of brain work for a one off situation.
If you live in an area where zoning is a bit strict, then you should get a hold of one of the prefab shelter manufactures that also does full
installation. They will know how to deal with permit problems and skittish zoning board people.. And they will be able to tell you if there is any
outstanding circumstances that negate any idea of putting in a shelter in your area. Water table problems, exec.
Or you could find someone that has done underground design before, and ask him for advice, or hire him to go through the legal hoops to get them to OK
it. Design, safety exec. He will be able to tell you want they will want in the design, so you don’t sound like an idiot at the zoning board. If you
sound like you have no idea what you are doing then you will get nowhere.
If you do live in an area where they don’t freak out when you mention “subterranean” then tell them something more reasonable, like.. If you are
in a tornado area, then tell them that you want to build an underground tornado shelter that also doubles as a living space during normal days. Same
for a fire shelter. Or you could say that you was wanting to build a large root cellar off the side of the basement for vegetable storage. Or state
that you need to furnish your basement to expand your living space and you are needing to build a new storage area in the house for the stuff you are
displacing from the basement. And you don’t want to add on any more to the above ground house, so you was wanting to build on a little area off the
side of the basement that will be below grade so that you can have useable storage room, and it would act as a good tornado shelter, and food storage
If you live in the countryside they will know exactly what you want to build when you tell them it is a root cellar. Familiarity breeds trust. A root
cellar that is attached to the house through a basement wall wouldn’t be anything far fetched.
Another tac to go is say that you are wanting to build one of those half buried earth friendly homes. That is the running fad and they expect strange
stuff from those people so they may be a little more willing to work with you.
And reassure them that you will be using a safe and solid construction method. That is why I mentioned the culverts. That is something they are
familiar with. If you state you are going to use one of those, then they don’t have to worry about you building something yourself that will fall in
on your head.
The people that sell the culverts don’t care what the heck you do with them, as long as you have the equipment to unload them when they get to your
place. The only thing they care about is liability. They are not designed for living space. But if he doesn’t know what they are going to be used
for, then he isn’t responsible. If you tell him, and he agrees then he starts gaining responsibility. Some manufacturers may be ok with you using
them for a living space, but other won’t. Don’t tell them unless they ask. If they ask, and they don’t like what you are going to use them for,
then thank them for their time and try to find someone else. Above all, don’t lie to them. Don’t get mad at them for saying NO, because it is
their own back they are guarding. You would do the same.
Just make reasonable request, and be polite. It will help you a long way in your quest.
If there is some outstanding factor that negates the idea, like a high water table, or other safety concerns, then just accept the facts and live with
them, or try to find yourself another property that is more suitable for that design.
edit on 20-1-2011 by Mr Tranny because: (no reason given)