Revised fall 2008
I. Setting and Activity
Building a house is a major undertaking full of laws, rules, regulations, codes, and deadlines. All of the same rules apply to building a house of different motives. Contractors building a house to sell for profit are required to go through the same steps as someone building a house to live in. There are lots of people who still want to build new houses even with the weight of the enormous juridical control standards the city of Billings, Montana holds to its residents.
When it comes to building a house, one will find that there are many required steps and people involved in order to proceed to the next step. In this portion of the paper I will be discussing the where to go and who is involved aspect of building a house.
The first step in building a house would be to submit your building plans. These can be submitted downtown at the Building Division locates 510 N. Broadway, or the fourth floor of the library building. In moving forward to continue in the building process, most of the people to talk to are all located in this downtown location. These individuals include; the inspectors, building specialists, permit clerks and plan reviewers. The builder or contractor will be contacting these individuals numerous times during the building process in order to keep the process moving and in order to receive valid permits and inspections. You will only hear from the code enforcement team of Billings if there has been a complaint or report of violating the city codes.
II. Juridical Controls
The State of Montana adopts new building codes in Helena. The building codes will then be sent to the head of each jurisdiction’s building department. The "go to guy" will then send the information to the City Clerk, who then improves it and sends to the City Administrator. Through a process called Administrative Order, the codes then become the new codes. The adoption of building codes takes only 90 days and the City is obligated to adopt the building codes that the state adopts.
Once a house design is decided upon, the “blue prints” must be drawn up. Each city department in each of their respective areas of expertise then examines these blue prints. If each department signs off on the blue print construction can begin. Throughout the construction process, one can expect visits by Code Enforcement Officers. Code Enforcement Officers then physically inspect construction to ensure the plan is being followed. If an infraction is noted the Officer will cite the responsible party, and there will be instructions to correct the problem and/ or the fines that may be levied against the offending party. Every code used by the City of Billings is available at the Building Department office, 4th floor of the Parmly Billings Library.
III. Avoiding Juridic controls
It is very difficult to escape juridic controls when dealing with the issue of building a house because the state of Montana has such strict laws in code inforcement. In the state of Montana you must be tested for essentially everything from the quilty of your soil to where your property will sit in comparison to your neighbor. Probably the only way to escape most of those juridic controls in the state of Montana is to build in your county rather than inside city limits, because in the county no building permit is required therefore none of the other soil and foundation test requirements are required either. The only juridic control that applies any time in building is the building to land ratio, no more than 70% of your land can be covered by buildings in residental building.
Building codes are needed for the safety of all involved and for an ethical standard. Builders need building codes to ensure they build safe homes and so they stay safe during construction. Hurrying through could be dangerous for the workers and in turn could produce an unsafe home. For example faulty wiring that isn’t up to code could start a fire in the home with people living in it. Following codes also makes it possible and safer for the homeowner and/or a professional to repair and/or work on if needed. The ethical standard of codes comes into play mainly on the outside of the home. States have different codes but they are in place for similar reasons. Each lot that a home is on has certain codes. Homes have to be a certain distance from the sides of the lot, a certain height, and in a certain location on the lot. These codes hopefully help to keep neighbors happy and to keep neighborhoods more uniform.
It is very difficult to find a way to avoid the juridical load of all the codes that have to be met to build a house in the city of Billings. Although there are a few codes that can be avoided by building outside of city limits. For example if an individual wants to build a very large home, their best opportunities are going to be outside of city limits, because when building within city limits your house may only cover a certain percentage of the lot you are building on. So if you have a one acre lot and you can only cover 85% of that lot with your home the only way to maximize the size of your home would be to make it two or three stories tall instead of one. While when building outside of city limits there aren’t as many strict limits on the size of your house so your home can take up more ground space if so desired as long as it does not violate any property boundaries of other lots in the area. Unfortunately there really isn’t much a person can do to avoid the juridics of building a new home.
NOTE: There is a building division end statistics archive articles.
CMC/AAE City of Billings City Clerk, and also one of the human resource clerks.
City of Billings Building Department 4th floor Parmly Billings Library