The curveball.  So I worked diligently this week pushing, pulling, designing, and imagining what the renovation of the existing structure would be like, based on the rules that the code officer told me last week.  I maintained the 20′ height, and I didn’t put a foundation below the old building, and I made sure the addition was to the rear of the structure away from the lake.  And then I called the code officer to get some clarification on the 50% rule.  The 50% rule is that you can not remove more then 50% of the market value of a structure.  That includes walls, windows, doors, roof etc.  Basically anything that has value in the structure.  Well that makes it a little more complicated, but maybe I can work with that.  However, when I get the code officer on the phone to get some clarification she tells me.  I can’t build above 15′ and I can’t do an addition because that would be adding a foundation, and that she simply can’t give me any direction without seeing a plan of what I want to do. Really? What? I simply can’t spend thousands of dollars designing something for my client that they can’t build. I need you to tell me what the rules are in your ordinance. That is how every project starts, with an interpretation of the rules.  So she points me to the ordinance, which is just like code, it’s nearly impossible to decipher (hence the reason you call the code officer in the first place so you can get their interpretation of the code – it’s easier that way) So what seemed like a probable project last week, now seems nearly impossible.

After I get off the phone with her, I print out the valid sections of code and I deciphered what I think the code says.  Yes, getting two stories in under 20′ will be challenging.  The code officer said she would call me back because she needed to check with the state on whether or not you could add a foundation, which may mean that you can only go up, not add an addition to the rear.  I’m going to have to revise the 3D sketches that I did to incorporate some of the existing windows back into the structure to meet the 50% rule. I think it can be done, this is the type of projects architects love. It’s a challenging puzzle that needs to be put together just right.  Most projects are not quite this complicated, but lakefront properties tend to have a lot more rules and regulations, for a good reason.  It’s not just enough to have a grasp on how to build, when it comes to complicated projects like these, you spend just as many hours doing code research and putting the puzzle pieces together to make it all work.  Meeting on Monday with the client.  We will see if they want to pursue the renovation on the existing house, or go back to the new house behind the 100′ line.

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