“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.