Stairways can be costly!

June 6th, 2011 · by Tom Stuart · News & Reflections, Uncategorized

“For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”  Hebrews 11:10

God is the consummate architect and builder.  In this verse we are given insight into the mind of Abraham, the great father of our faith, as he envisions God’s masterful plan for the heavenly Jerusalem.  That will be a building project to end all building projects.  Imagine the politicking, drawings and building permits required for a project of that magnitude here on earth.  The price paid to build earthly things should give us a deeper appreciation for the cost of heavenly things.

One of my goals this year has been to add a stairway on our deck.  I have been working on this project for several months now and have not yet dug a footing or driven a nail.  Now I am talking about simply building a four foot square landing attached to the existing deck and fifteen steps to the ground.  When it comes down to it, it is really not that big of a deal.  

Deciding on a design configuration that works well with our plans for the back yard took some time.  I enjoyed the thought and planning that went into doing that.  Dreaming about and anticipating a home improvement project is always more fun than actually doing the work 

What I did not take into account was the extensive approval process required to make such a minor addition to my home.  I figured I would need a building permit from the city and that was confirmed by a visit to city hall.  They gave me an application that included instructions for required structural drawings.   I learned that in addition to providing details of how I intended to build the stairs and its railings to meet city codes, I was also required to include an approval letter from my neighborhood home owners association (HOA).

When I contacted my HOA I discovered that I needed to supply them with basically the same information the city required.  One of those things was a plot plan of my city lot with my deck and stairs drawn on it so that they knew I was within the setback limits from the property lines.  After searching through all my files for an hour or more I realized I did not have a plot plan of my lot.  So I contacted city hall and thankfully was able to get a copy from their master records.

Determining the structural details of the joists and stair stringers is not my forte so I visited a lumber yard and the guy there helped me determine all the dimension lumber I would need.  With that information I went home and was able to sit down and labor over some structural drawings for my applications. 

After completing all the HOA paper work requirements I faxed everything to them and waited several days for their response.  Getting their approval was a relief but then my wife and I began having second thoughts about the kind of railing we wanted to install.  We spent more than a week researching some ideas and ended up changing our minds.  When I contacted the HOA about our minor design change they said that as a formality we would have to resubmit the change to their architectural committee.  I did so and again waited a few days for their perfunctory approval.

Finally with their approval letter in hand I took my permit application and detail drawings to City Hall.  They looked things over and said it would take up to a week for them to process it and that they would contact me.  Five days later they called with their approval.  When I went to City Hall to pick up the permit I was a bit surprised that the fee was $89 for such a small project.  But at just $6 per step, who can complain. With my plans now on file with the city, I have stipulations to contact them for two inspections, one for the footings and a final after the stairway and railings are completed. 

The decking materials are scheduled to be delivered today.  And with joy, I purpose after completing this blog post to take a shovel in hand to begin digging the footings.

Here is my reflection on all this.  If this much planning and accountability are required for building a stairway to a deck, it is absolutely impossible to begin to even fathom the time, attention and price to which God has gone as the architect and builder of a stairway to heaven.   

More on my next blog post.

Please share your observations or comments and add to this conversation.

Click Here for an Email Subscription to this Blog.

2 Responses to “Stairways can be costly!”

  1. So glad you are jumping through all of the hoops in the preparation process. I’m sure you would do a fine job without doing so-but the process is necessary. With the influx of different nationalities and cultures in the United States-the right process and overseeing it is necessary for the safety of the community. The same can be said regarding the building of our “heavenly” facility and “way” to get their. With the beliefs and ideas of many-and most are not grounded in Biblical truth-there is cause for instability and hinderance to our final destiny. All stairways don’t point to the one and only true God and the City whose foundations and builder is God. They may look good from the outside-but if the foundation isn’t right………..

  2. Good Morning Tom!
    What a mighty God we can know and call Him our friend. One of the options for my occasional wanderings around the house at night is to sit down and read your website. So…lets see what is in uncategorized. The thought came, scroll down to the 9th post. Hey, I think I helped a little on that deck! It was a blessing to read and seemed like a smile from heaven as I have a few projects going right now and can wake up at night thinking about them. We have the best Carpenter who ever walked the earth available 24/7+ to help us, who has said in psalms ” he has never forsaken those who seek him”. Have a great day.-AL

Leave a Reply