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Old 11-04-19, 09:43 PM   #14
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Originally Posted by madsci1016 View Post
I've never dealt with getting permits before. I am in red-neck ville, so they might not have started the "we need structural diagrams" yet if that is not a state wide thing. I'm guessing I just need to ask them that? Only solid info I got so far is the power company, Gulf Power (now owned by FPL anyway) wants to see the electrical permit, but don't need to see any structural (makes sense).

I found this site, is there an merit to it's services?
The merit to the services offered is like anything else: what's your time worth? Plenty of places offer PV permit package services, including Renvu where I ordered my last panels. From my point of view, my time to assemble my own permit package, and familiarity with the system involved, leaves a lasting memory of how the system works, which comes in handy when you have to troubleshoot something in the future.

Simplest way to find out what the permit package will need to include is to contact the local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) and just ask. When I started down this rabbit trail, I didn't realize every system in FL had to pass through the design review of FSEC. My local building department is the one who said "to install any PV system, it needs to be a certified system." When I googled it, and read FSEC's purpose in FL, it all started to make sense. Then I read up on what FSEC wanted in their review package, and built a set of drawings that met that criteria. Once I had an FSEC certified system design, I quizzed the local building officials what they wanted in their permit package in addition to the electrical diagrams, data sheets and system certification documents? My building officials would much rather answer questions up front and receive a permit application with all the appropriate paperwork attached, than stamp "Permit Denied" on stuff and deal with upset customers who throw a fit when they find out their permit application was denied. As taxpayers, we ALL employ the staff in the local building department to fairly and justly apply the building code rule books to the construction trades. Making permits difficult to obtain does not "help" the intended goal of gaining a high degree of code compliance with the local adopted building codes to keep the public safe. Making permits difficult to obtain actually drives DOWN compliance with codes. Ideally, the permit package application process should be fairly easy if you have all the documents you need. If you wish to employ some service to assemble the documents for you, that's your decision, just as it is whether you employ a solar firm to install your system.

Before I plunked down an offer on a piece of real estate in rural Maine, I visited the local town office and discussed with the staff there what permits would be necessary for various potential projects I envisioned the place might need. Again, the staff were helpful just like the staff in my municipality in FL. They actually commented "that's a great question to ask, before you get your heart set on buying a place", and considering how varied different municipalities can be, it's an important question to ask before purchasing any property. My municipality in FL is actually known in the local construction trades as being "Difficult to work with". In my experience, they're only "difficult" when someone comes in claiming to know everything and to have been doing "XYZ" for the last 30 years and never had an inspection failed for "that". The building codes are an ever changing set of rules, contractors are required to keep up with them to maintain their contracting licenses. The building officials & building inspectors are left with the unfortunate task of playing referee in a game with moving rules and guys who make money by getting to the next game as quickly as possible. Pointing out code failures that may have once been legal, but are not presently legal in the building code costs contractors $$$, and that's why my FL municipality is termed "difficult to work in".
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