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Help for a friend


I'm not a current planner (and I don't play one on TV :)), but a friend of mine is having some trouble with getting the straight scoop on building codes in her town. Here's part of her email:

So, get this...we have 5 contractors looking at our house plans now. We've spent about $4K to the architect/struct. engineer to get this far. NOW the *(^^%#%^^& City of Fort Lauderdale is changing their building codes, so it looks like we are going to have to redo some stuff on our plans. Lovely, just lovely. And we've been trying for 3 days to reach our architect to find out what exactly is going on. The only reason we know about the change, is one of the contractors thought if we could get the plans in for permitting review before March 1, it would be ok, but aren't sure yet what to do. Doesn't even sound like the lady at the city desk is sure if the submittal date or the issue date is what will matter. This s*cks. We're gonna be royally p*ssed if we have to spend another $3k for this guy to redo all his work.
Can anyone give me some words of wisdom for her? I'd like to offer up something constructive and hopefully improve her view of planners as well. :)




Well, first I would tell her to calm down. If someone came into my city with an attitude like that I would not be as receptive to her "demands" as I would be if she came in with a pleasant demeanor. I'm sure the City of Ft. Lauderdale is not doing this to "get" her and the building code changes are either long overdue or for the betterment of the City, but most likely both.
Second, they should have a schedule of submittal deadlines posted either on their website or in the office. She needs to get this schedule and plan accordingly. If the building code changes have not gone thru yet she should be able to get her plans submitted and hopefully in the review process before the changes are approved and they should be willing to "grandfather" the plans.
Has she met with a planner? One of the first things we recommend is to schedule a meeting with staff to get comments on the project as the architect works on it. Being able to get feedback on plans in the beginning stages will be very helpful and can also smooth out any problems seen in the beginning so that they do not have to keep re-submitting corrected plans.


Cyburbian Emeritus
Good start, TXPlanner

...but here's the rest of the poop from my humble point of view --

First I do have empathy for home owners in these situations. They don't know the system and that's why they hire *suppossed* professional architects and contractors to represent them.

These new building codes were most certainly NOT developed in secret and without input from the professionals in the building community. They never are! They take months if not years to get to the point of implementation.

The architect / structural engineer that you reference must be at least partially to blame for not seeing this coming. As a client I would not pay the full cost to have them re-do the plans.

Contractors are NOTORIOUS for going back to their clients with "The City is making me do {insert task} and it's going to cost you {insert change order $$}..." When in reality an educated professional contractor will be aware of the permitting environment and plan accordingly.

Good luck!