the market is hot, the house is staged, then you got your RBR


Permit pulling fun…

As a commercial interior designer I am responsible for documentation to pull permits. Lots of permits. While this part of my job may not be very creative on the one hand, it does require a certain finesse and definitely a great deal of calm. And the ability to create drawings that satisfy the building department. So when clients began coming to me to help them get through the permit process that was stalling the sale of their home, and they were wringing their hands and looking very very scared, of course I said yes. I’ve now helped several people pull these retroactive permits.

the market is hot, your house is staged...but you need a retro permit? #partinotes Click To Tweet

What the heck is an RBR?

An RBR is a Report of Residential Building Record. When you put your house on the market, an RBR must be filed with your local jurisdiction. Your realtor will probably initiate this process. An inspector will come out and look at your house and compare the state of the house with the permits that have been pulled on the house. The report will contain a list of issued permits, information about the type of property and accessory structures, a checklist of items that are in violation and may or may not require correction, a list of items that require correction and re-inspection, and a list of items that require submission of plans for a complete permit review. This last item is what causes hand wringing.

Remember that little kitchen remodel?

You were just going to replace the fridge and it turned into all new appliances, light fixtures, flooring, and a sink in the island. Or maybe you decided to replace those old aluminum windows with something that didn’t scream 1952. And that hot tub in the back yard….no one told you a permit was required! Yup….a permit was required. But what’s done is done. And now you’ve got buyers chomping at the bit and you need to draw the un-permitted work and get it approved. You need a retro permit. You’ve got this. First, take a breath.

Make friends with your building official

Call your local building department. Ask them to direct you to their submission requirements….they probably have a web page. If you have the ability to draw to scale and follow the rest of their instructions, then get out your straight edge and start drawing. Do some research into codes that are applicable to your situation (building, fire, electrical and plumbing) and include this information on your drawings. Hopefully the work was done to code…let’s just presume it was. Once you have all of the information on the drawings, create as many sets as the building department requires and check their website to find out when they have ‘counter hours’. Every building department has certain hours, ‘counter hours’, during which they will approve plans on the spot. Reserve a few hours to go down and talk with your building official. With luck your plans will be approved. Often, however, there will be questions. Especially if you are new at this. If there are questions you will need to go back to the drawing board.

Take another deep breath

This is where calm and finesse come in. And a great deal of patience. You will need to gather information and revise your drawings to reflect the additional information. In addition to your revised drawings, create a narrative to respond to each item. Then try to set a meeting with your building official to review your revised drawings. Go through each question or comment, respond to it on your drawing as well as in a narrative, and very nicely respond to whatever questions remain. Hopefully this will be the end of this part of the process and your permit will be issued. At this point you will make a final payment for your permit and schedule a final inspection. If the planets are aligned, the inspector will sign your permit and this will be the end of the process. If the planets aren’t quite lining up there may be additional work you need to do on your home to satisfy the inspector. Do this work, call for yet another inspection and then get your permit signed by the inspector.

If this all sounds like just too much…

Contact me. I’ve pulled permits….lots of permits. And I can help you. The building department doesn’t scare me. They have a job to do and I’ve worked with them. You have packing to do.

I have skills to get you a retro permit. Let me help. #partinotes Click To Tweet