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Permits or law enforcement to be aware of when natural building in central NY

Posts: 114
Location: Eastern Great Lakes lowlands, zone 4/5
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Dear Permies,

As I consider opportunities to live on farm land and pursue a dream of an Earthen shelter, I'm starting to get into the details and one big uncertainty is rules & regulations that may be obstacles.

Some background on my interest in this: To start I'm interested in a simple natural building on the small side, possibly on a farm alongside existing conventional buildings. Not quite a tiny home, but something cozy and simple. I have experienced with earth bag and rammed earth construction of sheds so I'd probably opt for one of those routes, keeping it as simple as possible to start just to get more experience with natural building / living and to get shelter on a farm. In the future, I'll probably want to build a more permanent and carefully designed structure.

Is anyone aware of rules & regulations with regard to natural buildings which I'd need to be aware of? I'm specifically looking into Onondaga or Oswego County of upstate NY for now.

Alternatively, does anyone have advise on where to learn more about this sort of thing, from experience in other places? Who to talk to, what kind of things to look for or ask?

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Hey Robert,
Contact the applicable building departments for those areas. Obviously, of the two counties you stated, the further from City limits the more likely that your building department will be receptive. Rural folks understand working with poverty, and building with dirt is rather dirt poor. Hit up their websites first, take notes, get an idea of their local processes, then you can walk in and talk to them in person and ask their level of receptiveness and willingness to permit one of these alternative builds. You may want to print off a short packet of testing, code allowance in other states, successful permitted builds, etc.
One would assume that most likely new york enforces the international building code (IBC) statewide. But in a rural area, outside City limits, it's a crap shoot.i know there are plenty of alternative builds in rural NY.
You may be able to squeeze by the minimum square footage deal, but unlikely.
What is more probable, is that they will require you to have an engineer stamped plans if they are too issue a permit. If they aren't receptive to the alternative methods, they may be more comfortable with a post and beam with infill. is an engineering firm willing and passionate to stamp Earthbag, rammed Earth or most of anything you may find an interest in.
Google will turn up many good websites that deal with this issue. Here is one you may like:
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