It’s construction season, as the trucks lined up along local streets attest. If your project already is in progress—good luck. For those inspired by this year’s crop of additions, Mt. Lebanon’s Inspection Office has several pieces of advice for anyone considering new construction.
Select your contractor carefully. As Chief Inspector Joe Berkley notes, there is no regulatory agency for contractors. “Basically, anyone with a pickup truck a tool belt and a hammer can call himself a contractor,” says Berkley. Get references, interview the contractor and go to see his work in person. “Don’t rely on pictures a contractor shows you,” he advises. “The portfolio photos are taken when the job is done. But what will the place look like two years later?”
Talk with the Inspection Office before moving forward. Unlike contractors, Mt. Lebanon’s inspectors are required to have various professional certifications and to keep them current through continuing education. Berkley, Building Inspector Rodney Sarver, a civil engineer with nearly 30 years’ experience, and department secretary Nancy Wenger can answer questions about the permitting process and the requisite inspections (footer, foundation, framing, insulation, drywall by the municipality plus electric and plumbing by other agencies). Once you understand what is required, you can expedite the process by ensuring your contractor submits the requisite two sets of detailed construction drawings along with the permit application (a pencil sketch on a napkin won’t do the trick). 412-343-3408.
Do it by the book. If you don’t get the application right the first time, you’ll need to do it over and over again until the permit with the good-to-go sticker can be posted on your job site.
Understand there are no good shortcuts. Mt. Lebanon enforces the minimum standards set forth in Pennsylvania’s uniform construction code—no more, no less. But if you don’t get it right, you’ll have to redo the wrong, sometimes at considerable expense, before you get final approval.
Remember, the rules protect you. If you get frustrated with what seems like red tape, keep in mind that Pennsylvania and Mt. Lebanon codes and processes related to new construction are designed to keep your family, your property and your neighbors safe!