Building official’s office is a good first stop in the process

by Peter J. Teagle - Posted on Jun 13, 2018 - 01:11 PM

Photo: Bill Riter and Paul Koll, from left, are the inspector/plans examiner and building official, respectively, for Gloucester County. Their office in Building Two is full of information on building permits and the permit process. They accept walk-ins, phone calls, online inquiries, and have a staff member in the office at all times during business hours to answer questions. More information can also be found at the public libraries or at www.gloucesterva.info/buildinginspection.

Bill Riter and Paul Koll, from left, are the inspector/plans examiner and building official, respectively, for Gloucester County. Their office in Building Two is full of information on building permits and the permit process. They accept walk-ins, phone calls, online inquiries, and have a staff member in the office at all times during business hours to answer questions. More information can also be found at the public libraries or at www.gloucesterva.info/buildinginspection.

Whether you’re making minor improvements like adding a deck or shed or large changes like room additions or selling a home, checking with your local building official can be a constructive experience.

Gloucester County’s Building Official Paul Koll and building inspector/plans examiner Bill Riter have a wealth of information for homeowners about building, buying or remodeling.

Before starting a project, even something as small as adding a carport or garden shed, the county advises homeowners to inquire about regulations and permits.

“If there’s anything done on the property, review those things to see if a permit is required,” explained Koll.

Even sheds as small as 256 square feet can require a zoning permit.

While smaller structures usually don’t require a building permit zoning permits still may be required, especially if the property is near waterways, protected wetlands or flood zones.

In addition to the permitting process, Koll and Riter recommend “doing your homework” when it comes to contractors working on the property.

“Be sure they are properly licensed,” Koll stated. “This means they have protections in the form of insurance and workman’s comp.”

To become a properly licensed contractor, an individual must have insurance against damage and employee injury, which is beneficial to both the business owner and the customer.

Virginia’s Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (www.dpor.virginia.gov) is a great place to start, said Riter, when determining if a contractor is properly licensed and insured.

In the case of those who are purchasing property, Riter added that it is always a good idea to call the building official and ask, “Are there ‘open’ permits on this property?”

Open permits mean the previous owner applied for a permit of some kind but did not complete the inspection process.