Take necessary steps for your building plans to become reality

By Mike Barhorst - Contributing columnist

In Ohio and other states north of the Mason-Dixon Line, summer usually signals the start of the construction season. Whether you have engaged a contractor to construct a new home, you are undertaking a do-it-yourself deck project, or plan to demolish your existing garage so that you can build a new one, there are some steps you need to take to ensure that your project can begin in a timely manner and end without unnecessary delays.

From new home construction to do-it-yourself deck projects, I want to remind Sidney residents that prior to undertaking any project, you need to consider the necessary permits. Those permits must be obtained prior to starting any construction and/or demolition project in the city.

The Building Inspection Division of the Community Services Department has the responsibility for regulating new construction, alterations, repairs, and additions to one, two, and three-family dwellings within the city of Sidney. To assist with the management of this process, the city has adopted the 2013 edition of the Residential Code of Ohio for one, two, and three-family residences. We have also adopted the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code for regulating the installation and maintenance of electrical systems for residences within the city.

The permitting process is relatively simple. The application for a building permit can be downloaded from the city’s website (www.sidneyoh.com), or a hard copy can be obtained from the Community Services Department (the office is located on the second floor of City Hall).

Once the application is complete, site plans and drawings received and the requisite fees paid, the application will be reviewed by the Building Inspector and Community Services Director. If the application meets all current regulations, the permit will be issued. To allow for review, applications should be submitted well prior to the start of construction — I would suggest at least a month before construction is scheduled to begin.

Occasionally, the application for a building permit will involve unique circumstances that fall outside the normal zoning standards. In these cases, the Zoning Board of Appeals will need to review the application to determine if the situation warrants a variance or conditional use permit. Both a variance and a conditional use permit are special modifications of the existing code, and granted when there are unique circumstances.

In as much as the Zoning Board of Appeals meets monthly, care should be taken to guarantee that if the applicant has prior knowledge of the need to obtain a variance or conditional use permit, the application for a building permit be submitted enough in advance to allow for the requisite hearings to take place. If such care is not taken, unnecessary construction delays can occur, creating needless frustration on all sides.

Residents also need to know that all contractors and sub-contractors completing work within the city must be registered to work within the city. This registration ensures the contractor has the minimum commercial liability insurance coverage in place before engaging in any project, whether that be construction, alterations or repairs. The registration also helps to ensure that the work done by the contractor will meet all city building code and zoning rules and regulations.

Inspections are a routine part of any building process. Each type of permit has a corresponding set of required inspections. The inspections are required to safeguard that the work is being completed according to the established set of standards.

One step that is sometimes overlooked, but is extremely important, is having utilities lines located and properly marked before beginning any project that involves digging. Not only is it important, it’s the law!

I have been involved with construction projects in which natural gas lines were severed. Fortunately, no explosion occurred, but had that happened, it certainly could have resulted in severe injuries or death for those nearby and severe damage to existing structures.

Not long ago, an underground electric service was also severed. Fortunately, no one was injured but employees for the companies who were served had an unexpected period of time off — resulting in huge losses for the companies involved.

Ohio law requires that anyone digging, even if to plant a tree, contact the Ohio Utilities Protection Service (OUPS) at least 48 hours, excluding weekends and legal holidays, prior to beginning their work. Failure to contact OUPS could not only involve temporary loss of service, it could result in fines or penalties. A simple call to 8-1-1 will protect you and the underground utility lines.

It has been said that “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Before you begin your next construction or demolition project, be sure to contact the Community Services Department at 937-498-8132 or 937-498-8130 well in advance.


By Mike Barhorst

Contributing columnist

The writer is mayor of Sidney.

The writer is mayor of Sidney.