Build Modern Residential in PDX
Average Rating: ( 20 votes)
Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Stevan Arychuk at April 28. 2005
I'm going to be relocating to Portland in the next couple of months and am interested in building a prefab or custom modern home by taking advantage of the lower cost of living. I have no experience building a new home from the ground up and am unaware of the major hurdles in regards to building a modern home in the city.
Specifically my question is regarding design regulations in the city of portland. Are the zoning requirements all that is required to be followed? Are there any restrictions on building a modern looking home by the City, County or sub-divisions in the city? The City of Portland has a very good site explaining all the zoning requirements, but I'm unsure of whether there are any design constraints which would complicate the process.
Is it as simple as following the zoning requirements and the structure can look like whatever the builder wants?
Thanks in advance.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Matthew O. Daby at April 29. 2005
Depending on the area of the city, there could be regulations in addition to the portland zoning code. Some neighoorhoods have historic overlays, environmental preservation overlays and/or conservation overlays. Some subdivisions have design review committees. It all really boils down to where your piece of dirt is. Once you know where you want to build then you can narrow down your search through say...the portlandmaps website (which provide much usefull info).
As a side note, let me just say...it is great to hear that someone of your taste for modern is moving to the area. The more persons like you here the better. As a designer attempting to break out from designing craftsmen bungalow and other forms of traditional houses (doing it to make a living! that's what people are building for whatever reason), I would love to have many people like you as clients.
I hope this information helps in your search.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by jbArch at April 29. 2005
There are several overlay zones which may kick you into a design review process.
Try [url href=http://www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=28197]this page[/url]for a description of the various zones (scroll down to the bottom of the page.)
Once you have a specific piece of property in mind, you can check the zoning (and see if it is in an overlay zone) by going to[url href=http://www.portlandmaps.com]Portland Maps[/url] and entering your property address.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Stevan Arychuk at April 30. 2005
Thanks so much for the responses! This community is so great - always provides an abundance of positive information and is so helpful.
So in the additional research I've done this week, I've gotten confirmation on most of the information provided here. It seems that the zoning requirements are really the big hurdle, and depending on the location there may be additional design constraints, but they seem to be the exception rather than the norm. Maybe that's just in the areas I'm looking in, which are as close to the inner-city/downtown as possible; I'm sure if if I was looking in a sub-division it may be quite different.
My research now will focus on finding land. Does anyone have any tips or additional resources other than the standard Craigslist, Oregon Live, MLS and similar online classifieds? I'm willing to work with a broker/agent who is familiar with land transactions, but would rather go on a recommendation than just picking someone off the net (especially if I begin this process remotely). If anyone has any recommendations for agents or other resources who may be familiar with vacant land within the city, it would be much appreciated.
The other component will probably be finding a local architect in PDX willing to help me with this project. This is based on the assumption that it might be actually cheaper to build a custom modern home rather than a prefab. Much of the research I've done suggests that prefabs are still in the $150/sq ft+ range; this is great for areas with high labor/materials costs (Bay Area, LA, NE), but I'm not convinced this is the case for Portland as well. One idea would be to take a design from someone like Gregory La Vardera and then work with a local architect and engineer for customization and all the site specific work. It looks like Sara Sage did this working with a small construction outfit in Utah (Irontown homes I think); she's detailing the progress of the project here on LM in a blog. So again - any recommendations of local architects within PDX who may be interested in a modern residential project like this? At this point I think I'm still interested in a completely custom design from the ground up, or working off plans like Greg's as a baseline.
Mod - I very much appreciate your comments and am also ethused to find others with a passion for modern design, especially if you are in the design field yourself.
Thanks again for the responses.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Matthew O. Daby at May 02. 2005
An affordable, quality piece of land close-in can be a challenge to find. Portland's real estate market is going crazy right now. I know I have been keeping my eyes open for something for myself. (Although, I'm not in any hurry..not looking to buy or build for another year of so). One thing you may want to consider is a lot with a tear down. A co-worker of mine just bought a 50'x 100' lot (typical Portland size lot), 2 blocks from the newest MAX train line, close in NE Portland, with a 850 sq. ft. tear down on it for $125,000 (if I recall the price correctly). He did all the research and leg work himself. I beleive the Prudential website was one of his primary tools.
I don't know what your program is...what he consider close-in, If you prefer mass transit or drive, what type of neighborhoods, size of house, if schools are an issue, etc etc...but Northeast and North I believe are the closest in areas with the most inventory right now. The tricky thing is it can be a bit sketchy in parts. It can go from beautiful to closer to shady in a matter of a couple blocks. It all depends on what you are acustom to.
As far as prefab goes...I don't think there is much of it going on in portland. If there is, I'd like to know about it! I know Anderson/Anderson in Seattle has done a fair amount of prefab both in Washington and overseas in Japan as well....but haven't heard a peep here in portland.
In the interest of advertising myself...I am in the design field. Although not a registered architect, I am a residential designer...which by Oregon State law means I do everything an architect does with residential and small commericial. As I mentioned before I am currently working with a company that does more traditional houses, but am looking for reasons to further the modern cause as side projects.(and soon as primary projects) I have a heart and brain full of modernist ideas. If you would like to chat about your program, let me know and I can give you my email address.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by jbArch at May 03. 2005
You might want to check out the [url href=http://www.livingsmartpdx.com/default.asp]Living Smart Narrow Lots[/url] competition winners for some ideas.
Portland apparently has a handful of 25' wide lots, and this competition sought to develop a catalog of house designs which could work on these narrow lots. I believe it is the City's intent to eventually make stock plans available for development on these lots.
The 25' lot is half as wide as the typical Portland lot, and allows for a maximum 15' wide house to be built. This might be an affordable way to buy land in Portland's close-in neighborhoods, but I personally am not sure where these lots exist.
Anyway, some of the designs are quite nice, and should at least give you an idea about what can be done. Also I would guess that some of the entrants would be willing to take on your project if it comes to fruition.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Matthew O. Daby at May 03. 2005
That is a fine idea. I am also not sure where these 25' wide lots are. I have noticed a few of the pre-competition uninspiring versions of the 15' wide houses, but not empty dirt at 25' wide. I think part of the idea was for 50' wide lot owners in some cases to divide their lot in half. I don't think the ball is rolling with regards to the city to do this yet. Keeping my eyes peeled.
Although not one of the selected winners...I have attached some renderings of one of my submittions to the Living Smart Competition.....
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Stevan Arychuk at May 11. 2005
Thanks for all the informative posts - they've been very helpful! I apologize in my delayed responses myself; I was travelling all last week. Part of my travels took me to Boise, Idaho, where it seems -everyone- builds their own home. When I say home, I should say estate. I went to 3 co-workers houses which were all in excess of 3,000sq ft which didn't account for a completed basement! The housing prices weren't even that bad, but coming from San Francisco and NYC I see absolutely no need for that type of space!
Mod - in regards to your ideas about the narrow lots. I contacted Susan Feldman from LivingSmartPDX and she provided me with the following info:
I think that you should check with some of the realtors in SE and North
Portland. We also have a map showing the lots in the R5 zone, but I'm not sure if it shows what's vacant. You should also look at lots in the R2 and R2.5 zones where you can build detached houses either on the same lot or go through a land division.
The land division idea is also interesting, and I received a very detailed reply from realpill (Adam) via LM and he suggested the same thing. The idea of buying a house with an oversized lot, splitting the land and living in the old house while the new one is under construction. Again this sounds like a potentially workable idea, but I'm just not sure of what is actually available. Does anyone have any experience with this? Is re-zoning/splitting typicall a lengthy and difficult process in the city of Portland?
mod - your design submissions and rendering is quite impressive! The rendering in your last note sort of looks similar to some houses in the Castro/Noe Valley area of San Francisco with a narrow house build over a garage which is usually sloped downwards. It seems interesting to me that there was a competition in this regards, but I can't actually find much documented support from the city in regards to making these types of lots more available.
In living in quite a few cities I have a strong focus on where in the city I want to live. No sure if any of you have lived in either NYC or San Francisco, but in SF we lived in the Mission (and loved it), and NYC we live in the East Village (and love it). Some friends have suggested the Pearl, but I think it's maybe a bit to manufactured and gentrified for us (although I'll admit some of the original loft conversions look quite impressive [note for $300k / SF prices though]). Others who have lived in similar environments have suggested the east side, maybe not as far out as Hawthorne. It's tough to juggle evaluating potential areas/neighborhoods until we can really determine what's available, but we are absolutely city people and want to be close-in. As we get older there is definately a desire to have some of our own space and privacy, but the suburbs are not for us.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Adam Burke at May 17. 2005
Let me describe a few neighborhoods in Portland for you. First, you have to realize that Portland is a much smaller city and feels much smaller than SF and NY. Many people I know who move here from a larger city start to notice how small Portland feels really quick. I don't think we have a neighborhood here that is analogous to the Mission or the Village. That said, there are some areas which have a distinct neighborhood identity. These are all a little opinionated on my part so sorry if I step on any toes!
The Pearl District is quite urban, a lot of focus has been put on aesthetic and cohesion to the point of feeling a little too perfect, as you alluded. There is no bare land around there, so it's really not an issue for you.
A little to the west of that you have the NW 23rd neighborhood. It has some nice shopping, and prior to the Pearl's rise it was the primary destination for rich kids and yuppie tourists, and the place to see and be seen. It's like our fake LA. There's really not any land up there either, and property values are really high. These last two are very close in and as urban as you can get here in Portland.
The last option on the Westside is getting a little further out. It's called Multnomah Village, and it's less urban, but still has a nice Portland feel. There are shops and restaurants around, but it's less hip than some closer in neighborhoods. The housing is a bit cheaper out there and there might be some land here and there. It's getting pretty close to the 'burbs so this might not be your flavor. Our new house is not far from here, but we want to be in a quiet neighborhood close to my wife's work so the criteria is different for us.
Moving over to the Eastside you have the Clinton St. area, and the Hawthorn area. These have been desirable eastside neighborhoods for awhile, and for years were the most bohemian, hipster areas. They still have this identity, but housing prices have gotten higher, and there isn't a lot of land around there. Still, I think these would be good areas to look.
Next is the Irvington/Beaumont districts. These are old neighborhoods with high prices and good schools. They're close in, but I suspect there are restrictions and historic designations. There's not much land here, but there are great neighborhoods and beautiful old houses.
Lastly there is the 'Alberta Arts' district, Concordia and North Portland. I think this would fit your criteria best. This is where there is still some vacant land, although it's going fast as I can attest because I'm a developer trying to find it! Around Alberta St. there is a pretty great art community and seems to be where all the young, liberal, urban-minded people are moving. The market at this end of town has gone crazy, but it's still a little cheaper than much of the rest of close-in Portland. The downside is that the African American and Latino communities who have lived here historically are getting displaced. The upside is that crime and poverty in the area decreasing. It's a classic gentrification scenario, so you just have to weigh your feelings on that. I've lived on Alberta St. for 7 years and the neighborhood has changed drastically. There is still a lot of crime and some very sketchy areas in this part of town, but at the same time there are tons of new families and younger adults who seem to have a strong sense of community and a desire to make the neighborhood better. As I get ready to leave, I'm a little sad that the is neighborhood becoming so cool. We live right on Alberta and we're tired of the traffic and no parking and we need a yard for our kids, and there are still a lot of problems with the schools up here. Otherwise, we'd stay here.
A few words on infill in Portland: I'm working on a project where I bought two houses on one .36 acre lot in the Concordia neighborhood. The main house is a rental for now and I just finished renovating it. We are in the middle of a lot split where we will create a new lot with the second house on it. We will basically tear it down to studs and build a big addition on it, thus creating a new house. It's going to be a neo-craftsman, because this is my first project and I need to move through it as quickly and easily as possible. I don't think it would have been an issue with the city to build modern on the new lot. I'm just getting ready to file the application for the lot split which should take a couple months to get through. I'll keep you guys updated on the details so we can have some good information on the land division and building process.
Wooo! A little wordy this morning? Hey, if you need a house while you're looking, ours will be on the market mid-summer. It's a 1914 craftsman will intact and new dark-stained woodwork and a new kitchen and bathroom and paint interior and exterior. It will be a little cheaper than the surrounding neighborhood because it has a tiny yard (with a beautiful garden!) and only street parking.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by jbArch at May 17. 2005
I know your plan is to build from scratch, but if you are at all interested in more of a multi-family setting then there are some nice mod projects going up in the central eastside.
The [url href=http://www.belmontstreetlofts.com/]Belmont Lofts[/url] are nice, but apparently sold out. Also check [url href=http://www.portlandtribune.com/archview.cgi?id=28201]this article[/url]
The good news is that the same developer architect have another project in the works on Clinton Street.
I've tried but can't get that first link above to work.
Here's the URL: http://www.belmontstreetlofts.com
Isn't the Belmont Lofts Great! It has been one of my newer Portland obsessions. Love the lattice screen.
oh! and go here for an inspiring article about the belmont lofts, the developer Randy Rapaport, and the future. www.portlandarchitecture.com Typically an informative website.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Max Anderson at June 29. 2005
Really enjoyed reading all your postings. Im new to LM but have been a fan of sustainable/green housing solutions for a while. I wont go into details other than to say Ive been a fan of Buckminster Fuller for years and recently completed my Permaculture certification, and really want to have a house that lives by my values of eco-consciousness and sustainability. I also want to spread the gospel of this to others by supplying them land to build their own versions of that ideal.
The reason for this posting: I live in SF and have a condo in San Jose which I am currently selling. Along with a partner, we will have several hundred thousand to spend. We are looking to buy land and build a few prefab homes (Flat Pack, NowHouse (Clever Homes), Glide House, etc) (keep one for each of us and sell the others for a moderate profit) either in or around Portland or Seattle.
We are looking for other people to partner with in either areas, and develop this project idea together, as well as collaborate on the idea of developing a small community of prefab homes for progressive people at affordable prices on the same land.
I know this sounds a little vague right now, but we have only just started talking about it. Already, I can see that I want to talk more to Stevan (are you in SF?), RealPill and Mod. I wonder who else is out there.
The first thing would be to find someone to help us buy the land. We are thinking of developing within 10 miles of the city center and are thinking of looking for between 5-10 acres, to build 1 home per half acre.
Please contact me directly (as well as via LM) if you are interested in partnering with us, have good advice, contacts, or warnings about either Portland or Seattle.
Contact details: Max Anderson. 408 910 0081. email@example.com
I encourage you to read these articles I found on the clever homes site. The first one is the model we are hoping to emulate:
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Matthew O. Daby at June 29. 2005
How exciting! I would love to see your ideas materialize in Portland. I've had numerous conversations with people within and out of the LM forum about how it is due time for an affordable modernist movement in this city. Most of these people are starting to make it happen the best they can or are brewing ideas on how to get it started. I know RealPill is one of those people doing both, as am I. I am currently working with RealPill, designing a modern remodel for his family's mid-century daylight. As you may have noticed by his other posts, he has his eye's pealed for developable property in the area. I have also had some conversations with Sarah(on the LVf) about collaboration of the modern sort.
My point to all of this is that your ideas would be welcome. Speaking for myself....I would be willing to put forth my services in any way needed. I am a residential designer, who is also looking to buy/build my first house sometime in the next 1-2years. (prefab?possibly) Would you be looking to develop new designs for the units, or use those you mentioned?
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Darin Dougherty at July 13. 2005
this is my first time in here. a client of ours turned me on to the forum and i'm excited to see all the discussions taking place.
my business partner started an architecture and design business 5 years ago on a very modern spec. house (check out our web site below...it's the 1680 house) and has been doing great ever since. combined, he and i have a lot of knowledge with dealing with the city of portland and their codes. the city is very receptive to out of the box thinking, and if you approach them with knowledge, creativity and a little flexibility, they are easy to deal with.
we have not been able to find a developer that is interested in doing the types of projects that we like to do. mostly, we've been dealing with individual clients. my partner took the proceeds from the 1680 house and bought a building downtown to house our office. he also added two apartments above it, one for himself (it's the alder project on our web site). it will be completed in about a month, in which time we'll begin marketing it to magazines. acting as developer, contractor and architect is extremely time consuming. we would be thrilled to work with a creative client.
also on our web site, we have a spec. house going in for permit this friday (the metcalf residence), which is built in an environmental zone. the blank residence went in for permit yesterday and features an eco roof, permeable concrete paving, radiant heated flooring and green interior finishes. we have not had the opportunity to do prefab work, but with our modern residential projects (which have all been design build), i think we could work through it pretty efficiently.
let me know if you'd be interested in talking with us further.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Matthew O. Daby at July 14. 2005
Let me just say cheers! As a fellow designer in love with modern design, I have been really excited to see your projects going up around town and getting the press they deserve. I think Portland has the potential to be a really progressive town. Seeing what skylab has accomplished thus far proves this.
Anyways, kudos! and I hope to rub elbows with you all in the future.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Darin Dougherty at July 14. 2005
thanks for the kudos. it's great to see clean, well devoped ideas translated into modern projects. the projects that have been caried out in this way, from schematic design through construction have proven to be extremely rewarding - mentally, as well as financially to the devoloper. it's been proven time and time again that good modern design is worth producing. richard meier's condo towers in NYC sell for twice the market rate, in a city where the median housing purchased has crawled over $1 million. TVA is doing a modern tower in the south water front project that is a clean, eliptical tower. all the politics aside, the project will be highly successful because it's being produced and marketed by a famous international architect. there are people of all income levels waiting in line for something different all over the city. i think there are finally some younger developers who understand the difference between what is cool and what is not cool. it's a gentrification process of people that are sophisticated enough to recognize the possitive and negative impact of the buildings we produce that we are finally starting to see happening.
as designers, it is our responsibility to see to it that once this movement is going full steam ahead, we don't comprimise with the quality of the work being produced, as this will surely kill the very ideas we all fight for.
the proof is in the pudding...modern is s%*t.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Stevan Arychuk at July 20. 2005
Sorry for the incommunicato over the past months - it's great to see the dialog on this thread continuing. I've been in the middle of relocating from NYC to PDX and travelling.
As a side note, I spent a couple weeks in Istanbul, Turkey and was -very- impressed with not just the overall city, but a lot of integrated modern design. I was expecting a city like Cairo, and it was more like NYC. Lot's of small modern furniture/design stores, plenty of redesigned ottoman architecture houses with modern redo's, and a very impressive (albeit small) modern art museum.
Max - I was located in SF, now NYC (well in transit), but will be in Portland by next week. I'm interested in discussing your ideas, as it seems like we have similar interests and requirements (close/in the city, size, design). I'll shoot you an email next week and we can talk more.
Moddesigner - that 1680 house looks incredible! It looked like a very challenging design based on the lot, but I think it was executed very well. Do you have any initial comments on the pros/cons of prefab vs. design/build from a cost perspective? It seemed like the prefab options may not yeild as much savings in placed like the NW where materials and labor might be a bit cheaper (in comparison to say SF or NYC). I'm in NYC right now and there are definately a lot of interesting modern projects, but yes - over 1M for a very cookie-cutter non-modern place, hence part of our reason for relocating back out west.
Looking forward to continuing these dialogs and potentially working with some of you in the future.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by alexander bertorelli at July 27. 2005
I am a local builder/developer working on some modern houses in the sw hills.My advice to you would be to look for land in N. portland(as it is still affordable.The lots in the hills are very hard to build on and expensive, if you can find one for sale.Because of the urban growth boundary, land has turned into an aphrodesiac in the close-in city.This is exemplified in the sun. oregonian under 'lots,builder etc'.80% of the ads are builders looking to 'pay top dollar'.There-in lies the prob for someone in your situation looking to find reasonably priced dirt to realize a modern home.The city has chosen one design for the winner of the narrow lot contest.They will bundle these plans with engineering and basically make it a pleasant experience'to visit the BDS(bureau of development services),which has been 'rumored' to be a snafu vortex.This is good for your situation because there are quite a few lots in the pdx area that are candidates for the 15'w house.This design contest was definitly a revitalizing breath of fresh air for the modernist movement in PDX.(as many people in the BDS will attest to)Do research on Portland maps to determine zoning and use the RMLS to verify divisibilty.With diligent effort,what you are looking to do can be accomplished.Good luck!-Alex
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by jbArch at July 27. 2005
[em]the BDS(bureau of development services),which has been 'rumored' to be a snafu vortex[/em]
This is off topic, but FWIW I have had the complete opposite experience with BDS. Of all the local jurisdictions, they are really the easiest to deal with. I think maybe they've turned things around in the last few years.
I simply take my clients' plans down and walk them through with a plans examiner, and I'm outta there in 2 hours tops with a permit in hand. 2 hours is definitely a pain, but most cities/counties want you to submit and wait 3 weeks.
2 hours! with permits! over the counter! I haven't dealt with the BDS in about 6-9months, but I haven't heard of anyone having permits in hand after 2 hours, except for some remodel projects. I know the BDS institued the intake appointment a while back. Do you get permits after that meeting? new construction? I may change my opinion about the BDS. (who in the past has proved to be a bit disorganized). Makes me feel better about the project I am soon to wrap in the city of portland.
really? Some of the projects I managed about a year ago were at the city for 6-8+weeks! some local jurisdications are still that long.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Darin Dougherty at July 28. 2005
i would have to agree with you. if you're doing a 300 s.f. home addition with no engineering on a flat lot, you're golden, you could walk out of there with a permit (i've done it). if you're doing anything but that, you'll have to intake your drawings. i currently have two houses in for permit right now. both are on steeply sloping lots and both have a 1 inch thick stack of engineering calculations. if you have any engineering at all, they will intake your documents. if you're on a steeply sloping lot, in an environmental overlay zone, or designing something out of the box, they will intake youre documents. that isn't to say they are difficult to deal with. on the contrary, they are open minded and responsive as long as you're honestly respecting life safety and the environment. if you approach the city with the mindset that you're happy to work with them, rather than work against them, things usually go smoothly. unfortunately, there are enough people trying to cheat or slip something through the city that they have to be defensive. just show them you care about all the issues the code addresses, schedule the 6-8 weeks for permits into the project schedule. use that time to get more construction bids than you would have if you were in a hurry. you'll be happy that you did...knowledge is power.
My thoughts and approach exactly. They are generally pretty pleasant people to deal with. Even when I've had problems with them losing or misplacing calculations/drawings, there was at least a couple friendly faces to smooth it out. Except for the occasional plan checker that is jaded from others trying to pull something on him/her.
It's all about the project scheduling! If you can have the engineer doing his job while you are completing finish details or BDS checking during bidding, it can make the project timeline less painful.
Has anyone heard of any of the narrow houses going up yet?
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by jbArch at July 29. 2005
[em]...but I haven't heard of anyone having permits in hand after 2 hours, except for some remodel projects[/em]
You're right... since going out on my own I've been doing mostly additions and remodel projects, but I've seen some pretty large ones get approved in the walk-through process in a day... stuff that is way more complicated than the typical spec house.
So to be honest I haven't had to deal with the intake appointment issue, which mainly applies to just new construction.
Most of these jobs involving older houses can get kind of messy as far as the structural is concerned. So it always surprises me that they get far less scrutiny than the new construction.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Eric Duvauchelle at July 10. 2006
So, from all these experiences happening from architects and clients, what seems to be the biggest hold up in building modern in portland? as a young couple, my wife and i would jump on a prefab house in a second if the price was right $300k, but nothing is happening. i know land is hard to come by, but it would be nice to see a developper build some nice modern dwellings instead of the horrible houses going in on skyline and other areas.
anyone have a great house to sell? or looking to sell land, hit me up.
Re: Build Modern Residential in PDXPosted by Adam Burke at July 12. 2006
6-8 weeks? I wish. My wait was about 3½ months. I got so many bad excuses and so few returned phone calls, my head almost exploded. In the end they approved everything on my extensive remodel, but wanted lateral engineering on a pergola not attached to the house (?!). I'm surprised they didn't ask for engineering on the proposed fence/screen. The solution was to cross out the pergola on the plans. I really went in with a good attitude, but I felt that nothing was getting done unless I was calling them, and the answer was always, You should have them by now... And you will almost NEVER speak to a person. It's always voicemail. At various points I had to go over the reviewer's head because they would not return up to 5 or six voicemails. I finally got my permits and things are coming along fine. The inspection process has been very smooth and inspectors helpful, with the exception of the inspector who I found sleeping in his car in my driveway. He asked me if I had done this and that, then passed me without ever leaving his car.
Part of the problem is that I have been working on a land division that was taking FOREVER, and have had very similar experiences so I've had up to here with the City: Impossible to talk to the people I need to talk to, no returned phone calls and statements like, someone really dropped the ball here... I'm sick to death of the city, although the County has proved nice to deal with for the most part. The land division is complete, so hopefully i can get on with the building process. I'm pretty excited to work on new construction after my remodel has bloomed into the most complex and massive thing ever.
Next time I go to the City, I'll know what to expect and hopefully I will budget my time accordingly. If things move faster, it'll be a pleasant surprise. It's definitely been the school of hard knocks for me. I'd be happy to share my experiences in more detail if anyone is curious.