Permitting for our home

| Anslie's Renovation On Oliver ST | By Anslie Stokes

The permitting process in DC is, to put it lightly, challenging. This will come as no surprise to anyone who regularly deals with any facet of the DC government but the permitting process is highly unpredictable and largely depends on which specific reviewer you get assigned in each of the disciplines your project needs to be reviewed on.


The 8 disciplines we needed to clear were:

  1. Structural
  2. Energy
  3. Electrical
  4. Plumbing
  5. Mechanical (HVAC)
  6. Water
  7. Environment
  8. Zoning


We passed plumbing and water on the first go around. We had to respond to some minor comments on structural, energy, electrical, and environment, but passed all of those on the 2nd round. Zoning was a bit more of a pain (call Anslie if you want more details on secondary kitchens or wet bars located on a separate level from the main kitchen) but passed on the 2nd round as well. That left just mechanical which should have been a shoo-in. Instead, we drew the short straw with reviewers for this discipline and had someone out to grind an ax that, unfortunately, picked our project to grind on. After 2 additional rounds of nonsensical comments and failed reviews, we had to troop down to DCRA for an in-person meeting between our team (Will and I, Shawn, and Shawn’s mechanical engineer), the reviewer and his supervisor.


A riveting photo of the approval stamp for erosion and sediment control!


Cooler heads prevailed during our in-person HVAC meeting and our project was given the green light with no additional changes. I marched down to DCRA to pick up the permit in person the very next day.

While our project was working its way through DCRA, we waited anxiously for the 4 bids we had requested from 4 separate builders. 3 of the 4 came back within our requested time frame and each came in about where Shawn predicted and they were largely in line with our expectations from the preliminary pricing round a few months prior. We sorted through the 3 proposals and selected WWK Construction as our builder. With the best pricing, two previous projects for us under his belt, and about 15 for clients of mine, he was the right person for the job.

So by mid-July (14-ish months after we stepped foot in the house for the first time) we had a permit in one hand and a signed contract with a builder in the other. It was time to make final preparations for construction.

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