Monday, May 7, 2012

The Wish of One Thousand Paper Cranes

by Kelly

We've been in the process of trying to build a new house for some time now. This is taking much longer than expected, since it turns out that houses are mostly made of wood...or at least, paper.

Behold just a portion of the paperwork required. To the left are the house plans. To the right are the plat survey and site plan. On the bottom are the letters that we are required to mail to our neighbors to notify them that we are building a new house, as if they didn't know this already.

In the middle are the variances we are required to file because since the house currently on our property was built they have changed the zoning regulations. These forms had to be filled out in triplicate. And notarized.

We also had to file a copy of these variance forms  with four local regulatory agencies (fire department, etc). These copies had to be sent certified mail (the receipts for that are the green slips in the center, and if you don't have all of those green slips, forget about filing your variance - that's how we got turned away last time).

Oh, and the CD's? Well, those contain a copy of the legal description of our property. Of course, they also wanted multiple paper copies of the legal description. I'm not quite sure why there has to be a CD version  as well - I suspect these required bits of almost outmoded technology are the Land Use Office's version of a Great Leap Forward.  Or maybe they're only trying to find a use for those mysterious white devices that take up so much room on their desks.

Have I mentioned that this variance process is going to cost us about $2,000.00? Pretty steep price to pay for correcting a problem we didn't even create, if you ask me.

So this is what I've been doing instead of crafting. Mind you, I had considered doing something creative, namely folding each paper in these documents into an origami crane before delivering them to the land use office, because the Japanese say that if you fold 1,000 origami cranes and then make a wish, your wish will come true. I used to think this saying was just a way for Japanese parents to keep their kids busy, but now I think this is actually an elegant analogy of the bureaucratic process that has become corrupted into a fable over time.

Maybe that's also why Japanese people use paper as a building material, as they figure they will just cut through the middle man. If it didn't rain so much around here, I might be tempted to do the same.


  1. Last year I graduated from a 2-year college course on construction engineering. I certainly know all about the amount of paperwork, permits, etc required to build a house. I would love to see a floor plan.
    Good luck.

  2. Thank you for the good luck wish! I have a feeling we're going to need it.
    The floor plan is obviously much too large to put on the blog, but we used this plan at The House Designers as a model:

  3. Just keep working at it, Kelly. Don't let the government defeat you.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...