I called a delightful person in the office of my county government that regulates construction and property standards, trying to find out exactly what I did and didn’t have to do to get long overdue repairs performed on my front porch. The whole thing is going to have to be simply and sordidly hammered off and replaced, and I want it a little bigger so that two people can stand on it without colliding.
The county website purportedly offers information about that, but first you have to know what it is you have to know and I am done with using a Ouija board and a magnifying glass to figure these things out. The specialized vocabulary doesn’t help. To me a setback is something that makes you start over again from the beginning (which has some bearing on a project like this, admittedly) but here it involves how close your project is to the property line.
“For that you have to talk to Zoning,” said Delightful Guy, who didn’t start off exactly delightful, in fact seemed a little cranky that I wasn’t looking up everything on the website, but he mellowed a little bit when I said I wasn’t famliar with any of the terms and was worn out trying to figure it all out from the seven-point type.
“I don’t know what that is,” he said. “Specialized vocabulary,” I explained. “It means you have to put your nose on the screen to read it.” After that he became positively chatty. Maybe he is nearsighted too.
“I’m just concerned with the building standard, if it’s going to stay up or blow down or sink into the lawn, that kind of thing,” he said. “Zoning takes care of the allowable coverage. And Environmental Services has to pass if there’s something that could affect, oh say water runoff, or if you have a commode on your porch, is it hooked up to the sanitary sewer system correctly.” We contemplated that possible amenity for a moment. “Funny enough there is nothing in the code about privacy,” he said. “They used to, but they took it out. So I guess you could have a commode on your porch.”
That ought to fetch the Neighbors From Hell.
He told me a story about visiting a model home that only had a half wall between the master bedroom and the master bath and I told him about my Brit Ex’s flat where the front door opened directly on the bathroom door which opened on a direct sight line with the Throne of Justice. You could never get into this territory in the website. This is why the human touch is important.
Eventually he transferred me to Zoning, almost reluctantly. Maybe there really are people like the legendary Maytag repairman, who sit at work all day waiting for the phone to ring.