By Chuck Blesener
There are always homes in our neighborhood that are being remodeled, repaired or changed in some way. Most of these residents get approval from the civic club, hire a reputable contractor, and obtain the necessary building permits from the city. Then there are always some who try and save some time and money by taking shortcuts. It is important that we enforce the deed restrictions and building codes to maintain our property values and the quality of life in our neighborhood. Any obvious lack of permits where construction is ongoing will be reported to the city for enforcement. If you observe contractors working on a home where no building permits are visibly posted, contact a civic club officer or go to the shepherdparkplaza.com website and click on the link to the Architectural Control Committee.
Building permits are required if you are in the corporate city limits of Houston and are doing projects which include construction work on new or existing buildings, remodeling, or building repair work. Most projects require a permit. Any alteration, repair, remodel, renovation, or new construction requires permits. All mechanical, electrical, and plumbing work must be permitted and performed by a licensed tradesman or contractor. Some exceptions to the requirement for permits include – painting, carpet/tile/wood flooring, interior trim and similar finish work, wood or metal fences up to eight feet tall, residential storage sheds less than 120 square feet, uncovered decks up to 30 inches above the ground. Roofing does require a permit.
Even where a permit is not required, residents and contractors are required to follow city building codes and neighborhood deed restrictions. When obtaining a permit, home owners will have to complete and sign an affidavit under penalty of perjury that is called “Declaration in Support of Application for City of Houston Building Permit”. You will swear that you understand what a deed restriction is, that you understand that copies of the deed restrictions are available for your review, and that your project does not violate any of these deed restrictions. If any statement in your Declaration is false, the city may void any permits obtained, may order you to remove part or all of your project at your expense, and can prosecute you for perjury for lying on an official document.
The best way to avoid problems and speed up your application process is to submit your plans for any project to the Architectural Control Committee of the SPP Civic Club (firstname.lastname@example.org). After your plans are reviewed and approved, you will receive a letter that you can furnish with your application to the City. More on building permits and code enforcement next month.