Building permits and the modern-house-plan

Any modern house plan in the civilized world has to meet the requirements of local and national building codes. You will need thorough blueprints to get a building permit. The blueprints will need to consist of many of these measurements.

Floor Plan -This is what most people are familiar with when they are designing a home. It is the layout of the exterior and interior walls. The modern house plan also needs to include the dimensions for walls, rooms, wall thickness, windows and doors, kitchen and bath layouts, electrical and plumbing layouts, stairs, ceilings, and flooring.

floor plan

Elevations- This part of the plans help the inspectors understand the height of the outside of the house. It also shows the shape and size of windows, doors, trim, roof material and slope, and anything else that can help describe the outside of the house.

blueprint elevation

Architectural blueprint

Details -this is a plan for some of the smaller things that have special instructions to build. This is more for the carpenters so they can get a good idea of what the architect has designed, but inspectors also like to know what’s going on.

Some of the details might include how a fireplace should look, stairs and handrails, molding and trim or just anything that is different from normal houses. The details sheet is part of the modern house plan and is as many pages as needed.

blueprint details

Sections-This part of the modern house plan just shows how the parts of a building fit together. Most of it is common sense, but sometimes walls, stairs, and things like fireplaces need a little extra explaining to get the clear picture. Like detail plans, the sections plans are more for the builder than the inspector, but they like to be kept in the loop. House blueprints need to fit together seamlessly.

blueprint sections

Interior elevations-This is a plan of the important interior items that need special consideration. The usual items are kitchens, bathrooms and fireplaces. Most house-blueprints will include specialty interior items like these.

blueprint requirements

Whew, that seems like a lot of stuff!Most of it is redundant, but it’s always good to be over prepared. I hope this isn’t too discouraging to first time home builders. I know it can be in the beginning. The best thing to do is go get some really big paper and get started. You’ll find that it’s the excitement of starting your plans that motivates you. So go ahead, get some paper, tape it down to the kitchen table and start to draw your plans with a yardstick. It will flow from there.

After the building permit is established, and all plumbing and electrical systems have been approved, a permit to begin plumbing and electrical will be issued. The Department of Health will need a sample of the soil if a septic system is needed to determine the length of a drain field. A description of the waterline, the septic line, and any irrigation waterways need to be evaluated.

The Electrical Inspector can be a big help before the project gets started. Any Electrical Codes such as the size of Service Panel or how many outlet receptacles are required on a wall can be obtained from the inspector. Ideally, the Electrical inspector will do an inspection just prior to the sheetrock, and then one after the home is completed. In a perfect world, inspectors wouldn’t be very busy, but I really took a liking to my inspectors and had them come back several times. Also, you probably will need a temporary power hook-up from the local electric company. They will install a power pole and transformer with a couple of outlets to get you by until your Service Panel is finished and approved by the inspector. Then you’ll get some real power!

The plumbing Inspector will grace your humble abode a few times as well. After the plumbing runs are finished, but before the fixtures are installed, you will be required to do pressure tests on both water lines and waste lines. In many areas, the water supply lines are tested simply by turning on the water and checking for leaks. In other areas the water lines are tested with air. The air PSI is usually much higher than normal water PSI. Water lines will have around 40-60 lbs PSI of water. The air test is usually double the PSI of water.

The test for waste lines which includes drain, waste, and vent lines is a much lower air PSI than water lines. You cap all the lines off at the fixture stub-outs with test caps or test balloons, then with a test pump put 5 lbs of air in the lines. It needs to stay at that pressure for about 20 minutes. You probably want to test the lines before the sheetrock goes in. If you do have a leak, you will probably hear it, but if your hearing is like mine, you can use a bottle of dish soap and a paintbrush or steal a bottle of bubbles from your kids. If you goop it on the pipe joints sometimes you can see what you’re missing.

That’s pretty much it for the permits and inspectors for the modern house plan. Just remember, it’s a hassle and it can be frustrating, but persevere to the end, it’s worth it.

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