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submittal requirements, one-story addition, alteration, architect on demand, advice without strings

A friend of a friend asked me to help with producing a set of documents necessary to get a building permit. Acting as an owner-contractor, they are planning a one-story addition/alteration and need to demonstrate that all of the submittal requirements per the Department of Building and Safety are being fulfilled.

I couldn’t just give them DIY Like an Architect how-toBOOK to work off of, though. Thus, I went to a local Department of Building and Safety office to get the project off the ground.

Let me back up a bit. The owner-contractor is the family comprised of a couple with two grown sons, both recently married. At the moment, they are all cramped together in one of the two houses on the property they own. No grandchildren yet, but they are definitely expected in the foreseeable future.

The vacant one-story dwelling in the back of the lot is in total disrepair. Their plan is to remodel, while adding a few square feet, and to have one of the brothers move in.

According to the research at the Building Department, both structures were built in 1921. The one in the back is only 5 feet away from the rear property line.

Given the current zoning, if they were to build from scratch, that distance has to be 15 feet! In order to keep their 5-feet rear setback, they have to preserve at least 50% of the existing wall. OK. This gives us a place to start.

A one-story addition or alteration submittal requirements include a set of architectural plans

submittal, requirements, one-story, addition, alterationPlot Plan is first. It has to show streets, lot size, and distances from the proposed addition to the existing buildings and property lines. It also has to show locations and uses of existing buildings in relationship to the proposed addition. North is always up.

submittal, requirements, one-story, addition, alteration

submittal, requirements, one-story, addition, alteration

Floor Plan. Aside from the plot plan, submittal requirements call for a floor plan. It has to show clearly what is addition and what is alteration. New doors and windows have to be dimensioned. Locations and sizes of new plumbing fixtures have to be indicated as well.

At this point, I have just drawn their sketches of existing and proposed to scale and oriented them correctly — north is always up. Since I am not designing here, just helping with the submittal, I simply drafted the sketched up floor plan they gave me. However, I couldn’t help but recognize some missed opportunities and proceeded to work over their layout.

Even though Building Department permit application submittal requirements just focus on the safety of occupants…

I was thinking that it would be quite awkward to see a bathroom door as soon as you enter the house. In my mind, it was important to set up an intermediate zone between public and private.

No matter how tiny an addition or alteration is, there are so many things that need to be taken into consideration. As such, I gave them three options to look at before we finalize the floor plan.

submittal, requirements, one-story, addition, alteration

As you can see, option #1 offers little “staging areas” in front of all the doors. Option #2 creates individual bedroom “suites,” but does not allow access to a bathroom without entering a bedroom. Option #3 combines options #1 & #2.

Next step is to plan the kitchen. But that’s another post.

As far as fulfilling all of the submittal requirements for this one-story addition/alteration project, I will keep you in the loop as we develop a Roof Plan, a Framing Plan, and Exterior Sections/ elevations. Stay tuned. If you have any questions, please send them to me here.


  • April 8, 2017

    This blog topic is so timely! Spring has arrived in Southern New England and I need to prepare a plot plan for a new front ground level deck. So many projects so little time …

    • Alla DIY Ally
      April 8, 2017

      One thing at a time, Bob! Thank you for reading!!!

  • Mia S Kazovsky
    July 18, 2017

    You always get the job done and go WAY above and beyond. You are a great architect and a very great friend!

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