Easier said than done
With land, plan, builder and crew all set to go, we started, right? Well, not exactly.
In our new county/township, one needs three permits to break ground. Ours is a "well first" county, which means you must dig a well, let the county engineers inspect it and certify that it will support the amount of water consistent with a lot of your size. This is the first approval. We already had the well: The developer had to prove that the entire site had sufficient water to support the planned development, and he used our lot to locate the well. So all we really needed to worry about was permits two and three. The second permit happens when the township and county approve your site and building plan prints, and one copy is filed. They want to be sure that you are the kind of neighbors they want, and that you will follow zoning ordinances. Then you get the building permit, which is filed in your records, and a copy is posted at the construction site.
These are serial permits. Each previous permit must be produced in order to get the next permit.
Of course, as you are no doubt expecting, what should have been smooth sailing ran into some shoals.
Our first delay was in buying the land, a rather important prerequisite for any permit. We had a contract, our (minimal) earnest money was in escrow, and all we were waiting for was the utility infrastructure, to be supplied by the developer.
Our township, like many townships on the outskirts of the metropolitan area, experienced massive urban sprawl over the last 4 years. This development began before there was any thought of the real estate bubble bursting. Township denizens finally decided that just maybe they should, like, PLAN for the growth, rather than allow it in willy-nilly. Our development was a small, tidy one with an experienced developer who had worked with the township before. He was also a good citizen, concerned about proper growth, long-term stability, ecology, etc. So they chose his development to use as the model of ... well, of the system they were going to build, once he and they went through the design phase, using our development as the guinea pig. Thus, things that normally would have taken weeks, took months.
Finally, in January of 2007, the zoning had been established, and we could submit our plan. So far so good. However, the county factotum who was to approve our well, didn't.
Nothing is wrong with the well. It's a perfectly fine little well. It's just on the opposite half of our property from where the house will stand, and while we could use the existing well, it will be cheaper in the long run to dig a new one closer to the house. The factotum decided that he needed to wait and approve the new well.
Thus it continued, despite our builder's appeals, until the county did some layoffs, at which time our account was transferred to a more experienced, but equally more overworked appraiser who had worked with Eric before. His attitude: You got a well? Then what are you doing here; I got work to do! <STAMP> Within a week we had all our permits in line. Just in time to ...
... wait for mud season to end.
Explanation: Most of the area around here is farm and/or dirt roads. Lots and lots of non-cemented land areas. These areas freeze, and then get lots of snow. Then, the snow melts, the rains come, and we have MUD. Lots and lots of scads of MUD. Nothing, and I mean nothing, with any appreciable weight moves on roads during mud season. You know, things like back hoes, concrete trucks, truckloads of steel pylons, and others of that ilk. The things, in other words, that are the FIRST things necessary to break ground at a house site.
So, it wasn't until 4/13/07 that we finally broke ground. But Oh! what a day!