Friday, March 2, 2007

India / Baltimore. Closer than you think.


Well the house renovation is moving along at a carpenter ant's pace. The drawings are done. The bank is ready. The contractor is begging to rip things out and nail in some 2 x 4's. The lead abatement people are ready to scrape and suck the living day lights out of the building and spit the lead out in some sealed tank. I sit imagining the kitchen bathed in morning light, the smell of a crusty frittata baking in the oven. However, the Baltimore Building Department has other plans. They have rules. The rules change, however, depending on with whom you may speak when trying to get an answer to a question.

The Department in their razor-sharp wisdom has focused on the replacement deck. One guy says no problem. The deck is fine. Don't worry. But Baltimore is becoming a little like India. In India, the backpacker rule is that you must ask three different people directions, for example, because you will get three different answers. If you are lucky two of them may have some similarities. You could go by the two that are similar or you could get a fourth answer. If the fourth answer relates to the two that are similar, you can go with it. Because Indians often don't know the answer, they will make one up rather than disappoint the traveler. It is like that in Baltimore City, but different. Not trusting the first answer, which seemed a little loosey-goosey, we made a second inquiry. This person said the Department wants photos, it wants detailed drawings, it wants the electric company to certify that the deck is properly sited, it wants full documentation. The deck requirements are a page long. What!?

We are putting the deck in exactly the same place that the old deteriorated deck was. This little 8'x8' deck is is gonna' be trouble. I can see it coming. The renovation I am doing is so ordinary. There are no additions, no bump-outs, no third floor addition. There is no change whatsoever to the structure or size of the place. This seems to annoy the Department. They must find something over which to exercise their power. The Banana Republic of Baltimore raises its hoary head and bleats. And, we will bend to its little dictator's bleating. I figure the second answer is the worst case scenario. I'm going with that. More later.

4 comments:

sheigh said...

It must be difficult for the city to get those truant landowners, with their rogue interpretations of property lines, to suddenly comply with laws that were never previously enforced. Can't you push them onto bigger violatiors? Blow the whistle on the guy across the way with the 1M sq. foot hot tub and its toxic mold estuary.

jamm said...

Good thinking Crabtree. I will troll the neighborhood this very weekend. I will take down addresses, name names. Distract the building department with salacious violations and sneek the deck through. Why didn't I think of this?

sheigh said...

Love thy neighborz!

jamm said...

Alwaz!