The Master Builder Q & A Series Two

Hello,

Colm here ...

A US Master Builder and I answer real questions that I received from readers of my e-book, "Residential Development Made Easy."

Question 1.

Are there mandatory common national building codes that every state IN THE USA must abide by?

Master Builder & Developer's Reply

Unfortunately, the answer is no. But if so, would it make my job would so much easier if there was. Every county, township and city has its own codes.

As a Master Builder we simply call each one and get the local codes and build from there. Can you imagine the inefficiency and therefore costs that this process adds to the cost of doing business from a builders and customers point of view.

It would be logical and wonderful if there was a common code for all States with separate list of Variations issued by each authority for things like climatic conditions.

By that I mean in cold climates we want codes to reflect minimum conditions for "retaining 'heat' inside the house" and the reverse for tropical climate.

However the basic code for building houses to be the same as to structural soundness etc. Unfortunately there is no "one" website to gain access to this information, you have to contacteach individual authority.

Question 2.

When looking to develop raw land whom is the best person to start with to determine what you can actually build on it?

Master Builder & Developer's Reply

I have written lots of information on this subject on my web site Blog at: http://www.realestatedevelopmentcoach.com/emailblog but the start point is to determine the zoning of the land in question - from there everything flows.

I mean if you are looking at land that is zoned industrial (and you don't know this) any thought you may have of building a house on it is a waste of time, OK?

Next - if it is land for creating a residential subdivision, go and see an engineer, if you live in the USA; or a Land Surveyor in other countries like Australia, New Zealand or the UK.

If the land is zoned for units, apartments, condos or any higher density development, you should see an architect if you want to develop the property yourself.

Question 3.

I have seen Hearing Notices placed on recently purchased land in my area. It seems to take months before the hearings in our area of P.G. County, Maryland actually happen.

Master Builder & Developer's Reply

Well, just as there are building codes for each area of the country, so too there are development codes set out in the Town Plan for each town, city etc.

The Town Plan sets out the development rules, such as building line set-backs from each boundary; height restrictions; material standards and lots of other things.

In addition to that you usually have to advertise to the Public by newspaper, as well as a sign on the property, that you have lodged a Development Application.

You will have been told by the Town Plan, how many times the advert has to appear and how long the sign on the property has to stay erected on the land - oh yes, it has to be erected on the front boundary, not on the rear boundary behind a bush.

All this takes time - advertising alone can be a month, then you have time if Objections from the Public are lodged - then time for it to be checked by authority officers - then it has to get on the Council's agenda.

Oh sorry, you missed that meeting. You have to wait another month. So yep, it is a long process.

Anyone who has an interest in the property or will be directly affected by what you propose to develop can attend these meetings. Some people may not want you to build because of the noise, or the traffic your development will add or because they once saw aliens there. You get all kinds of people who reject change.

Question 4.

As a member of the public how do they make their concerns or support be heard?

Master Builder & Developer's Reply

If you're a citizen attending the hearing, the chairperson will ask anyone who wishes to speak to approach the podium and state their objections or comments. If you are better organized, you can lodge an objection in writing, setting out your reasons and referring to similar cases that support your position.

Question 5.

If you are the developer what action is required of you? What team of people do you need to be with you?

Master Builder & Developer's Reply

If the fire in your belly tends to come out of your mouth, when provokes, don't attend -someone will find your 'hot button'.

Result - "lose your cool, you lose the argument."

If you're proposed development is contentious, then I would engage a professional Town Planned to represent you.

As a professional, they are independent; can argue on the basis of town planning principals; will know the weaknesses of the local town plan; and will put your case in language and temperament far better than you can.

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