City of Boulder Building Permit Woes – True to Reputation!
If you have ever built in Boulder, lived in Boulder, traveled through Boulder or known anyone from Boulder CO, you have probably got your own frustrating City of Boulder Building Permit story!
I promised you an honest account of the process, the good and the bad and here it is. With less than a week to go before the project is due to start and quite a few weeks after the City received my application and plans, they informed my builder that some changes had to be agreed to before the permit could be granted. Sweet! Not at all like blackmail.
- The garage needed to be precisely 19″ longer.
- I had to add a “street tree”
- The existing main water line from the city to the house needed to be 3/4″ in diameter – therefore needs to be replaced.
OK, the existing garage is a tad on the small side. It fits a car, but apparently the City needs it to fit an extra long car. I understand. I am even fine with paying the $1000 it will cost to move the wall to the mud room that is currently there. Whatever. No argument on this one.
What the heck is a “street tree” you ask? (As did I.) Well that is a tree that I am now required to plant on the property, near the street. Hmmm… how arbitrary! My neighbor two doors down was not required to fulfill this requirement when they built 6 months ago and nor was anyone that I know of. Even better, my front yard is xeriscaped so that it hasn’t got a lawn and is full of water-wise, Colorado native and climate tested plants. Designed purposefully to reduce water usage, since the City of Boulder frowns on high water use, I now find myself in need of an irrigation system too.
Oh, it gets better. Not only will I be required to water such a tree, but also to prune it. We wouldn’t want a child walking to school, to poke an eye out, right? Seems like the second good reason not to plant a tree near the sidewalk! Need a third? How about the tree roots lifting the sidewalk and causing a tripping hazard? And a fourth… The shade on the side walk from the tree means the snow will not melt in the same way as the side walk in the sun. But who cares if it’s slippery and dangerous?
I wonder if my neighbor had not cut down her 60+ year old elm last year, whether I’d need to plant a tree out front this year?
I’m over the tree. Let’s talk about the 3/4″ water pipe.
According to City plans, my house features a water pipe that is 5/8″ in diameter. While this brings enough water to the house to take care of all the faucets I have planned and then some, the NEW rule is that my house (again, not the neighbor who just built) needs a precisely 1/8″ bigger pipe! Who knows, maybe they are right. After all, I now have a tree to water too.
For all of you out there who think this is no big deal, I speculate that’s because you are not familiar with the cost of such minor changes and you have not done a big project – or small, but permitted project, before. The cost of the slightly larger water pipe is estimated to be $7,000-14,000 because I may have to dig up the city street! Seriously, the City has just found a way to have individuals update the infrastructure that might have fallen under their responsibility, haven’t they?! No pipe = no permit.
I earn my money the old fashioned way – hard work, day in and day out. I have always and will continue to abide by the rules of the City and do it all by the book, like a good girl. But I don’t have to like this turn of events! My 1955 house desperately needed updating and making more energy efficient but work hasn’t even begun yet and I feel like the powers that be at the City are going out of their way to make my life a bit more challenging and a lot more expensive, just because they can!
Getting a City of Boulder building permit is like brushing, flossing, rinsing and then… Having your teeth pulled out with no sedation & rusty old pliers. Boo!