Hillsborough County Architects, Engineers and Contractors
Dear Peter Kent,
Harry Heuman (813-307-4503) called me back and said that he is not only the President of the Hillsborough Association of Retarded Citizens, but that he is also on the Board of the Holocaust Museum in St. Pete and President elect of the Tampa Rotary Club. He said keeping busy keeps him out of trouble. I have known him for at least ten years and never knew any of that. He said the expert on my question was Scott Pailthorpe (813-757-3808) who is the manager of the Plant City branch of the Hillsborough County Planning and Growth Department and Harry made the introduction for me via three way calling.
Scott was very knowledgeable, if not arrogant, and said that due to a glitch in the law architects and engineers are not required to be certified or even knowledgeable of the Building Code and that they just keep submitting plans until they pass the Building Department’s standard. He said that licensed contractors, on the other hand, must also be certified in SSTD 1099 by the Southern Building Code Congress International, which is located in Birmingham, AL and by the American Wood Products Association, who he had no idea where to find, but suggested the Internet. The Certification is obtained by attending their classes on high wind construction and wood construction in high wind conditions. That certification then has to be brought in to the Contractor’s Licensing Board and it will be noted in your file that you are certified to draw up house plans. He said your plans would then have to comply with the high wind manual and the rest of the Building Code before your plans would be approved by the Building Department. He said that because it is such a royal pain and outside the scope of what most contractors get paid to do, no one is doing it. He couldn’t think of anyone who had ever tried.
While this would make you the only person doing such a thing, I am not sure that jumping through so many hurdles is really taking you in the direction you want to go. I am not sure what that direction is, and until you know, I think this could be a lot of expense and “busy work” that really isn’t productive. It could be beneficial for the specialized sort of building you ultimately want to do, but first you need to get your certification with the German finalized, and you need your contractor’s license, which may be much more difficult to obtain than you suspect. Things have changed a lot in Florida since Hurricane Andrew. My brother had his contractor’s license in N.C. but never got one here and there is probably a good reason for it. The drawing program and the classes will only get better with time and it makes more sense to be ready for both when you do devote the time and money.
I asked what would be involved in converting the barn to a house and Scott said that if the barn was permitted and I would have to take the parcel ID# to Sarah Jimenez (813-635-7300) on the 19th floor of the County Building downtown to find out, then I could ask for a building permit for Occupancy Change. If it was not permitted before, then I would have to start from scratch as a new building permit and could not call it a remodel job because it would be changing from a barn to a house and while barns are exempt from certain standards, houses are not. One of the things that I will also have to check at the 19th floor is the flood zone. Barns can be built at grade, but the floor of the house has to be above the 100 year flood plain and most places around here are not. He said if I start from scratch I have to have an engineer sign off on every existing part of the structure saying that it meets the code and that even if my contractor had the certifications for SSTD 1099, he could not sign off on the existing structur