Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting a permit in AA County.

Getting a permit to build a house in Anne Arundel County Maryland is difficult in the extreme. It took us three years and cost $60,000. That was just to get the permit, not including the house! And that was with a lot that already had a home on it, albeit a small home. The house was just 360 square feet. But it was there and had been there for the 30 years that I had owned the property and for years before that. The county had no problem acknowledging that it was there and collecting taxes on it. We decided to build a home there after Julia with the multiple injuries from her car accident years before and her Fibromialga was too ill to climb the stairs in our 1860's house. We decided that a small home on one floor would help her.
After three YEARS and three engineers we got the permit. The first Engineer, retired while it was proceeding. Well not really proceeding as he was pretty ineffective and had pretty much given up hope of us ever getting the permit. In fact he was very upset and told me that he was going to call the county when I told him - after he had retired - that the county had "agreed" to allow us to have a permit for a 1500 sq ft home. Well actually I think that I got them to agree to let us at least apply for a permit!
The next Engineer didn't have much more luck. He too went through the motions and once again it was up to me to sit in the offices of the permit offices and wait for them. I took in pizza's and donuts and made friends. I went to the print shops and had made, and paid for the 10 copies of the various plans that the County required.
After a while this Engineer committed suicide! Which should give you some idea of the stress that trying to get a permit from AA Co entails!
By now we were some two years into the process with still no end in sight. And running out of engineers?
The third Engineer certainly had experience on his side. He was well into his 70's perhaps even 80's! But he had been around and seemed to know what to do. It was during his "Reign" that we finally got the permit. I still had to trot down to Annapolis with my Donuts and Pizza and Candy. I still had to get and pay for the multiple copies of everything - God knows what they do with 10 copies of everything! I even had to go to court a couple of times. But we prevailed and were finally granted a permit to build a 1500 sq ft house. on our 1/2 acre lot.
We had fought for this and pointed out that there were several homes on our road with houses of 4 or 5 or 6,000 sq ft on smaller lots than ours! it had even occurred to me that perhaps I should be "greasing some palms", perhaps that is how it was done. But I decided not to risk that! If I approached the wrong person - that rare honest bureaucrat - I could be in even worse, deeper doo doo than I already was! Certainly I would have been willing to do it if a few thousand in the right place had saved us 2 or 3 years we could easily have saved some $50,000! Not peanuts in any ones life. But I had never done it and was afraid to risk it as I said.
Having the permit was only the start. The nightmare continued and even got worse. See my blog/letter entitled My Permit Nightmare. And my further letters detailing how the bank and the builder cheated us out of some $200,000. Ever tried taking on a bank? Don't bother. I went to the OCC - Office of the Controller of the Currency who supposedly Control the banks. Ha Ha Ha Ha. I can't stop laughing. Well I must say I didn't believe it right from the beginning. I said to the person at the OCC the first time I talked to them that I thought they would end up saying to me, "The bank says they did nothing wrong and there is nothing more that we can do for you" That is virtually EXACTLY what they said three years later!
Well enough of that I guess. Maybe I flourish on stress. Certainly I have had more than my fair share in this area.