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Op-ed: Inside the Wood County Courthouse

If you are planning on doing some construction work on your property this spring and you live outside the corporate limits of the cities, remember you will need a building permit.

Sarah Farnsworth, Wood County compliance officer suggests first checking your property deed for any restrictions, or homeowner’s association rules about construction if you live in a subdivision.

A building permit is required for any improvement that may increase your property value including, but not limited to new construction, renovations, whether interior or exterior, as well as storage/pole buildings, carports, garages and barns.

The building permit fee is based on the cost of construction. Up to $1,000 the fee is $10, for each additional $1,000 or part thereof and beyond is an additional $1.25. When any work for which a permit is required is started prior to obtaining a permit, the fee will be doubled.

Government-related entities and nonprofits are still required to obtain a permit, but they are exempt from the fee, and everyone with a permit is required to display it on the construction site.

An application for a building permit is also required to locate, place or maintain for residency a single wide mobile home or house trailer; the fee would be the standard building permit fee.

An application for a permit to demolish any commercial or industrial structure is also required. The application for a permit to demolish any residential structure is a flat fee of $10. It is required the structure be inspected for asbestos by a West Virginia licensed asbestos contractor and a copy of the asbestos report must be provided prior to demolition commencing as required by code.

The building permit application includes a number of questions including the square footage and construction cost, purpose of the structure, details of the proposed work, and if you have retained a contractor, a copy of the WV contractor’s license and address is required. If you have employed a contractor to do the work they can apply for the permit, otherwise it is the property owner’s responsibility.

Upon obtaining the permit, construction should start within six months and be completed in one year from the date the permit was issued at which time the permit expires unless an extension has been granted in writing by the Building Permit Office.

If you are working in the area designated as the 100-year floodplain you may contact Floodplain Manager Mike Shook at 304-420-0911 or email mshook@woodcountywv.com for a Floodplain application and requirements.

A building permit for a structure in the floodplain must be accompanied by an additional $150 fee.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency requires the county do three on-site inspections.

FEMA regulations include elevation standards and list what can and cannot be located in certain areas to allow the free flow of water should a flood occur.

In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program to help provide a way for property owners to financially protect themselves. The program offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the program. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding, including requirements for building permits and building elevations for structures within the floodplain areas. Wood County joined the program in 1977. Violations of floodplain regulations and building permit requirements can result in probation or suspension from the federal flood insurance program, affecting federally subsidized flood insurance policies and future county flood claims through FEMA.

More information is available on the Wood County website: www.woodcountywv.com. Farnsworth serves the county as the compliance, litter control and building permit officer. Her office is located in the courthouse, Suite 204. She can be reached by phone at: 304-1988 or email: sfarnsworth@woodcountywv.com. Though the Wood County Courthouse is closed to the public for now, you can call or email with questions.

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Pam Brust is courthouse coordinator for Wood County.

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