Improving what we have here at home

It is no secret that as a family we enjoy our summer travels. Together or individually we seek out opportunities to experience and see new places and things.

For the past few years we have had quite a bit of fun exploring what the world outside of Bremerton has to offer.

This year instead of a big family vacation, we have decided to invest our summer time and money into improving what we have right here. After a winter’s worth of watching yard “crashing,” home improvement shows, it inspired us to take on a major project and this past weekend the work has already begun on a complete renovation of our back yard.

Since we don’t have an entire team of professionals ready to assist us with an unlimited budget, a camera crew and a hot-looking host of the show, it is going to take us more than just a couple of days to transform what has been an OK and somewhat underutilized area into transformed outdoor living space.

Breaking this project into two parts, we will tackle a full fence demo and replacement. Also on the list is the removal of a broken pathway, reshaping of the planting areas and a newly designed section for Baer the wonder dog.

The second phase for next summer will include the construction of a new and expanded porch and patio with a new BBQ. To connect with the area on the side of the house we use as a patio area, the construction of a rock wall and updated pavers will be installed.

Now being the involved community member that I am, I began to conduct the research needed to ensure that whatever improvements we decided upon would be completed within full compliance of city codes and requirements.

Let’s be honest, those of us who use the city of Bremerton website often know that it is a struggle to get what you need at times. The entire look of the site is horribly outdated, the text is small, the pages busy and the interactive quality is extremely limited or most times non-existent.

I do know that the administration is currently working this year on the costs and options for an upgrade. I fully encourage them to keep on top of that.

As the average citizen just looking for some simple information in regards to basic, individual, primary residence improvements, it does take a little time poking around in all of the contractor focused information on the Department of Community Development (DCD) portion of the site to find what you need.

After a couple of false starts, I did locate a good portion of relevant information. First stop is a pdf titled “When is a building permit required?”  For small residential projects like ours it is all about making sure our project falls into the category that does not require it.

Since the fence in question is at the back of our property and the new fence will be under 6 feet in height, we are not required to have a building permit for it. (www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/forms/communitydev/permits/whenisabuildingpermit.pdf)

Finding out the information on the porch/deck construction took a little more time and a phone call to DCD.  Janet Lunceford was extremely helpful.  She walked me through the process for what we are looking to build, where on the property we are looking to build it, plus information on set-backs and construction requirements.

She mentioned that it would be a good idea to call them this winter and have one of the inspectors come out and take a look at it. That way if we do need a permit, we have plenty of time to apply for it.

Permits can take six to eight weeks to obtain, but they are good for six months.  (www.ci.bremerton.wa.us/forms/communitydev/permits/DeckConstructionGuide.pdf)

Now, armed with the appropriate information, I am sure that this will be an enjoyable learning experience for all of us as the work continues. I look forward to partnering with the city to ensure everything about the project stays in compliance with city codes and to learn as much as I can about the overall permitting process moving forward on bigger projects we have in mind once our house is paid off in three more years.

Do you have an improvement project you are working on this year?


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