Thursday, November 19, 2009

America! Land of the Free... Permitted

I was pondering to myself the other day, "Now that there is a slight turn-around in the economy, I bet people are going to want to expand a bit." And that lead me to thinking about Nikolai Sutyagin.  In turn, that brought me to another thought, and how in America you would need so many permits to do anything to your own house that it would make your head spin. I mean, twelve stories of random wood and sheet metal? That's a friggin skyscraper made out of wood! It could never happen, here anyway. America, Land of the Free Permitted.

Totally worth 17 years of your life. 

Being the voice of the masses, well at least 7 people, I decided to find out exactly what you'd have to do to build an addition to your home. I didn't get very far, although, I did make headway in some aspects...

Here is a transcript of my recent conversation with the state department of zoning. I will refer to the department. as "ZD" (zoning department) and myself, as always will be "A.R."

ZD - "Thank you for contacting the State Department of Zoning, for English please press one. Spanish, numero dos.


ZD - Thank you, an operator will be with you shortly. Estimated wait time: sixty-four minutes.

A.R. - Shit.

(After a seventy-nine minute wait)

ZD -Thank you for calling the Department of Zoning. All of our operators are busy right now, please try again later.

A.R. - Shit.

After that failed attempt at getting any information, I decided to take a more direct approach. Once again armed with sandwiches and an unrelenting determination I went to the branch in New York City to get the scoop. This time, with honey roasted turkey, swiss, deli mustard, and a pickle. (I ate the cookie that came with it) I ended up with Larry, although he wouldn't give me his last name, because I ate the cookie. Here's what I found out.

A.R.- Hello Larry, thanks for interviewing with me today.

Larry- This is an interview? You told me you wanted to talk about birds.

A.R.- Yeah, I want build an aviary and a second story addition on my house.

Larry- Why do you want an aviary?

A.R.- I like birds.

Larry- That much?

A.R.- Hey, who's doing the interview here? You keep asking me questions and I'll eat the sandwich.

Larry- Where is that sandwich anyway?

A.R.- (Under my breath) What is the deal with these people and sandwiches?

Larry- What was that?

A.R.- That was another question!

Larry- Whoa, relax. What did you want to know again?

A.R.- Sorry, I get... Passionate during interviews. Again? No, I didn't know it in the first place.

Larry- I can't believe you ate my cookie.

A.R.- Technically, it was my cookie, since it was in my possession at the time. And you don't even know me Larry. Are you implying that I'm a bad person?

Larry- Well, I enjoy cookies, thank you very much.

A.R.- You're very welcome, Larry.

Larry- So you want to build an aviary and a second story on your house?

A.R.- No, I want to build an aviary as part of my second story expansion.

(I glare at him for a few seconds with a look of intensity encompassed only by that of an angry girlfriend, partially trying to instill the alpha male dominance I learned is a necessity during an interview, also due to the fact he has a distracting mole about his right eye.)

Larry- Oh, well you need to fill out some forms. And then have a building inspector come by, and show the plans.

A.R.- I refuse to fill out anymore forms.

(Uncomfortable silence ensues)

A.R.- I do have the have the plans right here!

(I pull out a crumpled napkin with a rough draft of the expansion plans)

A.R.- Here you go!

Larry- (Stares blankly at the scribbled sketch)

(This is a digital mock-up of my plans)

A.R.- Sorry about the coffee stain. I believe everything is in order.

Larry- Did you draw this at the deli?

A.R.- Again with the questions!

Larry- I'm a bit confused as to what I'm looking at here.

A.R.- Isn't it obvious? On the left is my house now, on the right is the house with the second story and the aviary. Notice the bird? I did point it out for you.

Larry- Yes, I noticed the bird.

A.R.- Good. Then can we start with the paperwork?

Larry- Here is a few brochures for you to look over about expanding.

A.R.- Are you saying that I'm getting fat?!

Larry- What?

A.R.- OH, expanding. Gotcha. (wink)

Larry- (stares blankly at me for several seconds) Is that my sandwich?

A.R.- Technically, it's my sandwich.

Larry- I believe this interview is over.

A.R.- Not until I finish the sandwich it isn't.
Larry- You're sort of rude, aren't you.

A.R.- I call it "Journalistic Integrity". It keeps me on my game.

Larry- It seems like rudeness to me.

A.R.- Alright, I'm done with the sandwich. Thanks for the soda, Larry!

Larry- I bought that from the vending machine. By the way, I will personally refuse any permits that you file. (Gets up and leaves the room, leaving my empty hand outstretched in an attempt to shake hands)

A.R.- Now that, Larry, is rude.

That's as far as I got. These guys are really, really demanding! So I decided to send an email to them and get some real answers. I also ate another turkey sandwich. It turns out, that all you need to build anything you want, is a set of brass balls, a contractor, and a few bucks. And I set out to do just that. I got a call from the director of code enforcement the day after I completed the structure.

My "structure" (fucking perfect.)

After I built it, and spoke with the director of code enforcement. They sent a few goons to tear it down. It took them all day long. (I used 3,856 nails, 209 screws, and 18 gallons of glue) here is what was left...
Not much of anything anymore.

Frankly, I was a bit upset, it took me three hours to build that. Three. All in all, I think I found out a lot about the whole building code thing. Most importantly, people fucking love sandwiches.

-Ari Racz

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