Updated: Dec 21, 2022
Imagine, you have saved money for years, or have taken a home loan after going through extensive procedures and filling out detailed applications, you start building your house, but halfway through your construction, you find out that the lot on which you were building was not even approved or you have gone one storey too high against the local ordinance restrictions! This could be devastating, not to mention the financial setback that you’ll have to suffer.
That’s why it is extremely important to hire an Architectural Designer from a reputable firm and also familiarize yourself with the most crucial construction laws before you start building, so you can save both your time and money.
Here are the 5 necessary laws to consider before starting the actual construction:
The first thing you should find out is if the lot that you will be building your house on is approved as a building site or not. Finding out this information might seem difficult, but it is all available in public records in most places. All you need is your APN (Assessor’s Parcel Number), you can find this on the Assessor’s website (depending on your county); you will use this APN to pinpoint your lot on a Parcel or Tract Map, to confirm whether it is approved or not; these can be accessed from either a County Courthouse, Tax Assessor’s Office or from the Planning Department of your area.
Building Codes will get into the nitty gritty details of actual construction. In most places, including New York, the International Building Codes (IBC) are in use. These codes can help you plan your house in a much better and safer way, if these codes are properly implemented by your contractor, they can make your home structurally strong, help you conserve energy, have proper means of egress, have adequate ventilation and sanitation etc.
Zoning laws determine the actual type of building that you can build on a specific lot, these laws guide you about specific things such as setback lengths, types of buildings (residential, commercial etc.), size and usable area etc. Before construction begins, find out the zoning district in which your lot is located, then visit the local zoning office or the planning department to obtain up-to-date documents about zoning laws.
While the IBC or Zoning Laws are very important to consider before building your home, another necessary step is to find out any local ordinance that might be used by your concerned planning or housing department. These could help you find out about any specific restrictions; if any, about the area, size, or height etc. of a building at a specific location.
Although everyone understands, they need a permit for constructing a house. Only a small number of people take the trouble to find out about the specific types of permits that might be needed by a local authority. Apart from the general housing permit that you need to obtain, you might be required to submit construction drawings about plumbing and electrical systems etc. A qualified contractor usually knows this and acquires a permit when needed, still, you should double check to see if every required permit is available or not.