Tough to tell the difference

remodel vs. demolitionThe building permit (and, unusually, there is one and it is displayed) includes ths language: “Remodel existing 1st fl residence.” The person who can see any portion of the house that used to stand on this spot has better vision than I do. What differentiates this from a demolition?

It’s only hearsay, but people have told me that it’s more difficult to obtain a demolition permit and that there must be a review of the history of a structure before one will be issued. The flow-chart for the building-permit process is a bit cryptic but for the most part quite informative about the process as it’s intended to proceed. We’ve been taking pictures of similar construction sites all over close-in Austin, but sometimes they don’t turn out well and often we can find no permit in the City’s database. I first started looking more closely after I noticed the house that appeared to have been demolished altogether except for one pillar of the front porch.

On the December 6 agenda for the city council, this was the language of item 50: “Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to process an amendment to the City Code regarding the standards for defining the remodel of a residential structure. (Council Member Jennifer Kim, Council Member Lee Leffingwell, Council Member Mike Martinez).” The official minutes record that this item was approved. That doesn’t mean that anything substantive will happen or that it will happen anytime soon. The agenda item isn’t especially revelatory, but the Chron reported this (“Beside the Point,” byline Wells Dunbar, 12/7/07): “Summarizing, Kim says remodelers can’t remove more than 50% of exterior walls and must hew to the roof-line, horizontal and vertical lines – ‘otherwise, go for an additional permit, or brand-new building permit.'”

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