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I need to vent  RSS feed

 
                              
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Here is my little story,

Five years ago, me and my wife bought 26 acres of forest land. Since then, we have done a lot of work toward building our dream homestead. We built a road ( with a permit), cleared and made a pad...

Last week, I receive a letter from the city telling me that my road is not legal, because it's not exactly where it was supposed to be on the plan. I also have to hire a biologist to restore a stream that they say my road has put sand in... this will cost a few thousand.

I call the city to know if I can expect a lot of surprises like that, since we are finishing the plan for the timber frame home that I was supposed to cut myself, and we are supposed to start building in a few months.

They tell me that I need to keep 50% of the land intact. I said no problem, I want to have a a permaculture land with forest garden and free range animal so I also want to keep the land natural. They said that I can't put animal on the 50%, because I cannot modify or stomp the native grass that is there!


So I went from 26 acres, to 13 acres, less the road, the house, the septic, the barn, thepaddock... so basically, I have a land too small for my plan!

This is what happen when the environmental law are made by people who doesn't understand what sustainable really is if nobody is allowed to modify his land, then we are stil at the mercy of big monoculture farm that rely on fossil fuel and deplete the soil nutrients

So we basically forgot the project and will sell the land to some rich city dwellers that will built a secondary residence and will have nothing sustainable!

We will buy and existing house with a land already farmed ( probably monoculture) and we will transform it to a permaculture. But it will never be the house we planned, built by my own hand...very very sad.

thanks for letting me vent!
 
Shawn Bell
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Those are some tough breaks.

Are you sure you can't make a go of it of 13 acres?

Does leaving the land 'natural' mean that you would not be able to harvest anything from that section?

There could be some BIRDS that eat berries and herbs and then POOP the seeds in the natural section.
"I planted raspberries on this 13 acres, I guess a bird must eaten here and pooped there."

I hope everything works out alright for you two.
 
Marla Kacey
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EE GADS!!    What city are you in or near?
 
                              
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The land is in Sainte-Adele, Qc

I could go with only 13 acres but the question my wife and I are asking ourself is: what next! When will they decide they now aren t allowing something or something in the law is changing.... we get the feeling that more bad surprises are going to happen in the future!

The sad thing is these people think they are protecting the environment! It s the same people that make a lot of law to protect agricultural land against development but when you try to make more sustainable agricultural land, they refuse!
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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They don't really care about sustainable anything, it's all about control over people.  If I was in your place, I'd be selling, too.

Kathleen
 
Jordan Lowery
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i bet if you did that additional 13 acres fukuoka style and completely nature farming, they wouldn't have a damn clue. it would just look like land to them.

kind of like the story i think paul mentioned where the inspectors or something came to visit some underground house, and walked right past it. thinking there was no home there.

sorry to hear that bullcrap though, i wish you the best
 
jacque greenleaf
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I think your big clue is in your first sentence - forest land. I don't know any specifics about Quebec, but I can tell you that parcelization and residential use of forest land is a big issue where ever there is a timber industry. It has major implications for industry-scale forest management and fire protection.

And ag use looks much different than forest use, you would not be able to fly under the radar.

Would you be interested in changing your vision from an ag-based homestead to a timber-based one? Horse logging comes to mind... If you are attached to this piece of land, maybe you can find another way to use it. Learning more about the reasons and politics of land use in your area would not be wasted effort whether you decide to sell this piece of land or not.

 
Perry Way
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It's a shame but y'know wherever you go in this world today, you will find the same Government thing, pretty much. Unless you go to some back woods country like deep Africa where they are starving and really want to go permaculture route so they can feed their people more easily.  It's almost absurd what they put people through here in California. Do not come here! It is even worse than Quebec!  I do wish you the best of luck however.
 
Gail Moore
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Here is a link to a video about what is going on east of Los Angeles
megatropolis. The link is in the fourth post down. I included the other three so that you can see photos of very old earthen Desert Forts and a Disaster Resistant earthbag dome.

http://earthbagbuilding.wordpress.com/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hubert, the story you mentioned about Inspectors walking around an Earth-sheltered home is from mike oehler, originally. It was in Holland, where they fly overhead to photograph any illegal building going on. They asked the person to see what was being built, and the person basically said, "It's over there." They walked over there, and all around and didn't see the earth sheltered house covered with plants.

There may be photos of that house on Mike's website:
http://undergroundhousing.com/

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the meantime, I meditate on this and smile:

There are many, many billions of souls who are intent upon remembering, We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are all joined together in our hearts in ways more powerful than ANYTHING foolish souls can imagine. And we are assisting the move forward wherever we are.


 
Troy Rhodes
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Big intrusive, expensive government is going to be the ruination of us all.

My building inspector made me install "ice and water shield" on the bottom 6 feet of my roof, even though he recognized and agreed that my attic was extremely well ventilated, and would never, ever have ice dams or water backing up under the shingles.

But even knowing this was a complete waste of time, effort, money and resources, he still made me do it.  "It's in the code.  I have to make you do it."

One size fits all.  We know better than you.  We are your overlords.  Resistance is futile.

Vote them out I say.

Finest regards,

troy
 
Tyler Ludens
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Off The Grid wrote:
It's a shame but y'know wherever you go in this world today, you will find the same Government thing, pretty much.


There are almost no restrictions on land use in my region unless the land is deed restricted, which you learn about before you buy the land.  Otherwise you can pretty much restore it or destroy it as you please.

This isn't necessarily a good thing! 
 
gary gregory
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Alexis wrote:
The land is in Sainte-Adele, Qc

I could go with only 13 acres but the question my wife and I are asking ourself is: what next! When will they decide they now aren t allowing something or something in the law is changing.... we get the feeling that more bad surprises are going to happen in the future!

The sad thing is these people think they are protecting the environment! It s the same people that make a lot of law to protect agricultural land against development but when you try to make more sustainable agricultural land, they refuse!



Why would there be more surprises?  Is there not a publication that you could acquire that would explain all the restrictions on your property?
 
Troy Rhodes
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Maybe it's that simple, maybe not.

Here's my real life example:

First, code guy number one inspects my plans and tells me my superinsulated floating slab is a great idea.  "Call us when you have the forms done and you're ready to pour concrete."

So I call when all the form work is done, so code guy 2 comes out, takes one look and waves his hands around hollering, "YOU CAN'T DO THIS.  YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO TEAR THIS ALL OUT."  Same office, same code, just two different guys.

Petty dictators really.  They have the power over you and use it just for fun.

It would be fun to have the whole forum/internet world focus unwanted attention onto crazy ridiculous code enforcement people.  Slam their office with 20,000 emails and phone calls until they get reasonable with folks.

Did that sound bitter and cynical?

Finest regards,

troy
 
gary gregory
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That's interesting, an insulated slab should be easy enough for them to figure out.    Here where we live you are required to take your plans to the county planning office in the courthouse and get them approved and stamped by their engineer who keeps a copy and then when the inspector code guy comes out he has that copy with him and just makes sure the work has been done as stated on the approved plans.

I think the trouble that owner builders get in to is that we expect to live on our property forever and when circumstances change and we have to sell our property then the codes come in to play.    I'm sure the rules and regs are in part due to lawsuits in the past and they are all afraid of lawyers.   

My code inspector says that he doesn't worry too much about owner builders because who would want to build something that is going to fall in on them.  Mostly its about shady contractors trying to cut corners and make higher profit.

We have a new neighbor who is growing marijuana.  He hooked up to our pump and was stealing water and power.  The sheriff won't go in without a swat team and it is not a big enough grow to merit a raid as there are so many other much larger illegal grows around.    But code enforcement was able to help us because he made an illegal road cut and bulldozed a flood control dike and once all that attention was focused on him he stopped.

I am currently reading Joe Saletin's book, "Everything I want to do is illegal".  It is a good read and well written but I still wonder as I read what some folks would try if all codes were done away with.
 
Tyler Ludens
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gary gregory wrote:
still wonder as I read what some folks would try if all codes were done away with.


Many homes would be even more inadequately built than they are now, in my opinion, because some people (most commercial builders such as KB Homes, etc) just want to cut corners. 
 
                              
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gary gregory wrote:I am currently reading Joe Saletin's book, "Everything I want to do is illegal".   It is a good read and well written but I still wonder as I read what some folks would try if all codes were done away with.


Who are "some folks" going to possibly hurt by meddling around on their own property? Only themselves. And more than likely, poor construction will lead to head aches and major repairs, not injury or death.


Also, aren't we all about cutting corners here at permies? How do you build a $5,000 house without cutting corners? Couldn't you define corner cutting as increased efficiency, assuming the end result is just as functional?
 
gary gregory
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PeakEverything wrote:
Who are "some folks" going to possibly hurt by meddling around on their own property? Only themselves. And more than likely, poor construction will lead to head aches and major repairs, not injury or death.



How about what I just mentioned, by bulldozing a flood control dike that protects my property?

Building roads so poorly designed that the hillside slides and the erosion fills an important wetland that is part of the whole valley's watershed.

Bill Mollison's quote "The map is not the territory" comes into play in that what is done (good or bad) in one area affects the whole.



Also, aren't we all about cutting corners here at permies? How do you build a $5,000 house without cutting corners? Couldn't you define corner cutting as increased efficiency, assuming the end result is just as functional?


I once helped an architect inspect a building in preparation for a lawsuit where the post that was to hold the weight of the second floor roof (10,000 pounds) was to run from the foundation to the peak of the roof, but to save time the contractor left the post out of the space between floors.    10,000 pounds sitting on a plywood subfloor.    That would have fallen in on someone.   That's why we need codes and inspectors and that's what I was thinking of when I wrote that response.

As I said before, owner/builders aren't usually the problem.      I have several different friends that have built straw bale homes in different states and they all had to deal with their local building departments and actually educate them to get their plans approved.

I have approval from the head of my county environmental control to build a solar composting toilet.   Not possible by reading the codes but he is interested in the concept and wants me to report back to him.

And why would building codes stop me from building a $5,000 house?   Codes don't dictate cost of materials, just safety.
On my first adventure in wiring my own home the electrical inspector told me "I'm not responsible for making sure everything works, just that it is safe."
I appreciated that.

I have to constantly remind myself to avoid "us against them" thinking because I believe we are them.    






 
jacque greenleaf
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"Also, aren't we all about cutting corners here at permies?"

To me, cutting corners means slipshod, ad hoc, thoughtless actions. And no, that is not my reading of permaculture, low-tech lifestyle, or green building.

I think it is true that any kind of regulation or lawmaking can get out of hand. But you know, it is simply not the case that lawmakers or regulators are sitting around making this stuff up because they're bored. They respond to problems that they observe or that are brought to them. There can and should be lively arguments about whether a particular problem should be resolved by lawmaking and/or regulating. But whether my neighbors approve of the way I live or not, they really do have grounds to be concerned about how I build things and how I use my land.

Your best defense against what seems to you to be unwarranted intrusiveness is to first get some understanding of why the regulations exist in the first place. Then you can think about how to make the case that the purpose can be met in some other way.

 
Tyler Ludens
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jacque g wrote:
"Also, aren't we all about cutting corners here at permies?"

To me, cutting corners means slipshod, ad hoc, thoughtless actions. And no, that is not my reading of permaculture, low-tech lifestyle, or green building.


That's how I see it.  I live in a cheaply built home which was built to code at the time.  But it is a poorly built home. Corners were definitely cut in the sense that the cheapest materials and fixtures were used.  I hate to think how awful it would be if the builder had not designed the home to code, which is a minimal standard of quality.      The code wouldn't prevent one from building an inexpensive home, but it might prevent one from building a dangerous one.

 
gary gregory
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Permit-Free Fun with Bizarre Building Codes & Zoning Laws | Designs & Ideas on Dornob
               

http://dornob.com/permit-free-fun-with-bizarre-building-codes-zoning-laws/
 
Walter Jeffries
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This is why before I bought I checked out the regulations, laws, zoning, etc in the towns and states where parcels of land were that I was considering. I don't like other people telling me how to live my life. I would recommend moving. You'll be dealing with them for the rest of your life if you stay there. Do you want that stress taking years off your life?
 
                              
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jacque g wrote:Your best defense against what seems to you to be unwarranted intrusiveness is to first get some understanding of why the regulations exist in the first place. Then you can think about how to make the case that the purpose can be met in some other way.


I recently had a small fire in my home, and since we had a fire, my 85 year old home was now considered a "new construction" under the law and fell under new building codes.
Due to this, the inspector said that I needed to replace all of my doors, which were a little dirty but in fine working condition. I needed to replace all of the vents in the home, and put in new cold air returns in every room, costing me over $6,000. "Code" requires both forced hot and passive cold air ducts in each room. The hot air ducts were undamaged by the fire, and the cold air returns never previously existed in the home during its previous 85 years of use. The inspector alerted me that I needed fire resistant drywall in the home... AFTER the drywall was installed. So we were forced to tear down 200+ square feet of already installed drywall. The inspector told me to replace the newly installed windows, because they were too small, and in case of a fire, a person would have to be able to crawl out of the windows. (The windows in question were on the 2nd story, with nothing but a concrete driveway underneath them.) Since the 2x4 frames were also too small, they all needed to be removed and replaced. The opposite side of the house, which saw little smoke, no water, and no fire was to have all carpets removed, all walls re-primed and repainted. I scrubbed my palm on a large section of wall and was barely be able to see the soot residue on my hand. Also, my insurance policy hasn't kept up with the inflation of building supplies or contractors, and therefore I've since ran out of insurance money and must dedicate several hundred hours worth of my own labor as well as the remaining needed supplies to fix my home. We received all of these forced mandates for a home which my wife and I simply wanted to bring back to its previous state. The inspector made it clear that if we didn't follow 100% of his orders, we would not receive our certificate of occupancy and would not be allowed back into our home.

The inspector himself/herself may not be unnecessarily restrictive, but the codes are. Unfortunately, if the inspector overlooks any codes, he feels as though his very job may be on the line, since building codes are "the law".

I honestly believe that the purpose of building codes are to force people to build the "ideal" house, based on a far away bureaucrat's or home builder's ideal. Also, to protect the myriad of industries based on modern home construction. How would the drywall, joint compound, carpet, shingle, insulation, tree farm, lumber mill, etc. industries react if people were suddenly allowed to build a cheap, well insulated straw bale home? How many products and industries is cob able to effectively replace? Would the banking industry suffer if people were able to build a new home for $20,000? There is a reason why these building styles, which have been around for centuries, are now illegal. It is either ignorance, forced conformity, or worse: forcing everyone into massive mortgage debt.
 
Walter Jeffries
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PeakEverything wrote:I honestly believe that the purpose of building codes are to force people to build the "ideal" house, based on a far away bureaucrat's or home builder's ideal.


You are too gentle. The codes are designed by the industry to drive their profits. It is very purposeful. I have read the codes. I purposefully live in a place where codes are not required. We still have a smattering of freedom. I strongly suggest you get involved and fight to stop this over regulatory nonsense.
 
gary gregory
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pubwvj wrote:
The codes are designed by the industry to drive their profits.


What industry are you referring to?
 
Charlie Michaels
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I want to scream when I hear this stuff.
 
Walter Jeffries
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gary gregory wrote:What industry are you referring to?


All those who benefit from the profits generated by the codes and regulations:

Unions - because they block individuals from doing their own work
Construction industry - because they force people to buy more stuff and pay more
Government - they get larger empires, fines and fees
etc.

Code should be a polite suggestion, not a forced requirement.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm thinking it's more a case of people being grossly inconvenienced by the code, rather than the code literally blocking individuals from doing their own work.  It's unlikely any union blocks individuals from doing their own work, I can't think of a union that would be in a position to do so.  It might be confusing unions with licenses.  One does not need to be in a union to be a licensed contractor, though one might need to get a license in order to qualify to join a union.

I think it's common for us to think we're being prevented from doing things when we're really being inconvenienced.  Certainly codes, inspectors, etc don't make anything easier for the average person!

But I have to admit I've never lived in a place where I was prevented from doing something I wanted to do, so I'm no good judge of the situation.  I tend to agree with those who say move to a place which has fewer restrictions.  But then you get other problems like gross pollution, etc (see "Texas"
 
Steve Coffman
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It seems to me, for the most part, planning codes are designed for the "Lowest Common Denominator". They for protecting the land from people who would do stupid or unconscious things to the rivers and the forests (etc.), or to their neighbors, the community, or to themselves. Unfortunately, the "LDC" based code can limit special case projects that actually make sense in some way. I say, get creative....limitation is not always a negative.

I've been a builder for 30+ years and, as I see it, "the Universal Building Code" is mostly designed around worst case scenarios (the 7.9 earthquake, the unexpected fire or flood, the 120 mile per hour wind, etc.). It often seems unrealistic....until disaster happens. Then lives are saved and property is still standing.

I've been primarily in the remodeling business and have seen a lot of shoddy work. In my mind, work done by inexperienced individuals and without the oversight of building standards can be very wasteful and at times dangerous. I've seen a lot of unnecessary rebuilds because the initial builder didn't follow code, or sensible building practices.

For me the saddest part about this is material wastage. Way too much used building material makes it's way to biomass or the landfill because it just wasn't used in a thoughtful way. That said, way more people are paying much closer attention to thoughtful building practices and land usage these days....go permies!

 
Troy Rhodes
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I would like to put up a windmill to generate electricity.  The problem is, I want to build the tower, and the wind turbine itself.  I have the knowledge to do so.

Code says, any electrical generating device on the property has to have UL certification, or I can go pound sand.

And for the tower, I can't just build one like the commercial engineered tower (plus a generous safety margin), it HAS to be a commercial tower, OR I can get an engineer to sign off on my design. 

Have you hired an engineer lately?  Was it cheap?

Yes, I understand the argument that we are protecting inept people from hurting themselves and others.  But what if you're not inept


My building inspector forced me to install "ice shield" on the first 6 feet of my roof, even though my attic over the shop is extremely well ventilated, and it is impossible for me to get ice dams, with the attendant water seeping back under the shingles.  Impossible.

The building inspector even admitted it would never do any good.  But good design and rational thinking were irrelevant.  The code says it has to be that way.  He was just doing his job.


Finest regards,

troy

and no windmill.  I'm waiting for the current inspector to pass away of natural causes. 
 
Tyler Ludens
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solarguy, how much does it cost to hire an engineer to sign off on your design?  I'm just curious.

 
Steve Coffman
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solarguy,
I think the preponderant question is, "what if your neighbor wants to install a wind tower and he IS inept...and the inspector allows him to go ahead with his plan....and a wind blows it over onto your house, or worse, onto your head?" All I'm suggesting is that the code is there to make sure something like that doesn't happen. It's too bad for people like yourself who are capable....but not so bad for people who live next to someone who isn't.
 
Troy Rhodes
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
solarguy, how much does it cost to hire an engineer to sign off on your design?  I'm just curious.




The first guy wanted a hair over a thousand bucks to do all the calcs, and provide the magic signature, and that was assuming there was zero changes/redesign.

The second firm wouldn't do it unless they also supervised the work and used a bonded/licensed/professional contractor.  Tens of thousands.

And that still won't let me build my own windmill, since an engineer can't UL certify a device.

I'm not saying engineers charge too much for what they provide, just that I'd rather not be required to use one.

I understand the intent of the code, I just don't like how it's implemented in my area. 

If I build something that damages my neighbor, my neighbor already has legal recourse.  That's why I would build it where it can't fall on anybody or any structure.

HTH,

troy
 
Tyler Ludens
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Geez, that is pretty darn expensive.  Does the entire device need to be UL listed or can it simply have some UL components?

What is the penalty if you just go ahead and build it?  Do you live in a place with an especially eager building inspector?  Nobody comes around inspecting places where I live, thank goodness!
 
            
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I saw in a post above someone referring to an experience they'd had in which two individual inspectors told them two completely different things relating to the code requirements for an insulated slab install. There's a valuable lesson to be gleaned from that experience: Educate yourself. We did a walkthrough of our '45 farmhouse with an electrician friend prior to purchasing it and discussed all the options. Among them was a complete rewire (thankfully it turned out the old stuff was pristine and didn't need replacing). The code office told us we couldn't "fish" the wires through the walls, as is standard practice in old construction to avoid, well.. ripping them out. Instead, they said we would have to expose the "runs", i.e., the pathways through the walls along which the wires run to the outlets, in order that the inspector could verify that they were stapled to the studs at proper intervals. My friend was fairly certain there was provision in the code for fishing wires to avoid wall demo, and happened to know someone who teaches electrical code at our local state university. Took a thirty second phone call to verify. Too often these beaurocrats haven't the slightest idea what they're talking about, and if you can speak authoritatively as to the pertinent codes and regs for your pet project, you'll have the intimidation factor on your side. Huge. Very likely they're going to want to be quit of you once they see that you've done your research and you're not gonna be horsed around. You get your rubber stamp, the inspector goes on to harass another hapless homeowner, life moves on. I know it's not always so simple, but there are steps you can take to at least stack the odds in your favor.



 
Tyler Ludens
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M. Edwards wrote:
Too often these beaurocrats haven't the slightest idea what they're talking about


Hear!  Hear!
 
Troy Rhodes
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As a revenue generating scheme, some localities are using sat imagery to compare properties, year to year.  If they see something has changed, they send the code enforcement people out to see what you've been up to.

There is software that "looks" for those changes, so it just flags "interesting" properties to be reviewed by a human.

Big brother IS watching.

The power generating device at the top of the tower is supposed to be UL Listed.

Using UL listed magnets and UL listed wire, and UL listed steel won't get me anywhere.

I have reason to believe I have an overly enthusiastic enforcement guy.

I own a copy of the relevant code and am conversant with it.

Finest regards,

troy
 
            
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Yeah, I got the impression you'd done your homework, Troy. Sometimes you just get unlucky and end up having to deal with a real asshole. I'm sorry to hear about your misfortune.
 
Burra Maluca
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solarguy2003 wrote:
As a revenue generating scheme, some localities are using sat imagery to compare properties, year to year.  If they see something has changed, they send the code enforcement people out to see what you've been up to.

There is software that "looks" for those changes, so it just flags "interesting" properties to be reviewed by a human.


Yeah - I've been half expecting a visit ever since we bought the ten acre strip below the farm for grazing the donkey on.  We couldn't afford to fence it, so we've tethering her on it, using a long rope tied to a big lump of concrete which we move around every so often.  From above, it looks like some weird extraterrestrial activity has been going on with all these mysterious circles dotted around the land. 
 
Troy Rhodes
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Cool, alien donkey circles.

Never imagined I'd type that.

troy
 
Tyler Ludens
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solarguy2003 wrote:

I have reason to believe I have an overly enthusiastic enforcement guy.


Darn. 
 
Power corrupts. Absolute power xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx is kinda neat.
Video of all the permaculture design course and appropriate technology course (about 177 hours)
https://permies.com/wiki/65386/paul-wheaton/digital-market/Video-PDC-ATC-hours-HD
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