The County Cubicle: Building codes … who needs them?

Editor’s note: In an effort to keep residents informed on happenings within county government, county employees will contribute biweekly articles for “The County Cubicle.”
These articles may include responses to reader questions or expression of interest. Readers are encouraged to submit questions or suggestions to County Administrator Pat Hooker at 878-9436 or phooker@co.rio-blanco.co.us

Who needs building codes and permits? We all do.
Americans have come to rely on the safety of structures that surround us in our everyday living. Codes apply to private and public property to ensure our personal safety and the safety of our families. They aid in the conservation of energy and help ensure the economic well being of the community. Codes also protect future owners who deserve reasonable assurance the home or place of business they buy will be safe. The public’s desire for protection from disaster due to fire, structural collapse, and general deterioration resulted in a need for modern codes and their administration.
So, what is a building permit? A building permit is legal “permission” to begin construction of a structure in accordance with approved codes. All plans and specifications are reviewed for compliance with the building codes adopted by Rio Blanco County before a permit is issued. The process works best if you set up an appointment to discuss your project with the building official before finalizing your plans. He will provide you with ideas, guidance, and instructions for your project.
What kinds of structures require building permits? New buildings, decks, garages, car ports, some fences over six feet high, and retaining walls over four feet high are all examples of structures which require a building permit. Additionally, remodels, renovations, and improvements such as structure additions, garage conversions, finishing basements, roof replacements, fireplaces and woodstoves, swimming pools and replacement or installation of hot water heaters, plumbing and HVAC systems are examples of projects involving existing structures that require building permits. If you are unsure if your project requires a building permit, call the Rio Blanco County Building Department before you begin your project.
What is certificate of occupancy or completion? A certificate of occupancy or completion is issued by the building department after a project is completed. It confirms that a structure meets basic health and safety requirements according to the adopted codes and is ready to be occupied.
Where do I start with the paperwork? If your project is located within the city limits of either the town of Meeker or the town of Rangely, contact the respective building department in the appropriate town. If your project is located in the unincorporated part of the county (outside the town city limits), your project is subject to the county’s building codes and requirements. Most county permit application forms can be found online via the RBC website, http://www.co.rio-blanco.co.us. All county applications and forms are available in Meeker at the county administration building, 317 E. Market St. In addition, you can access currently adopted county building codes at the 317 E. Market St. location, the Meeker Public Library, and at the Rangely County Annex, located at 17497 Highway 64.
If you have questions or concerns, contact the county building department by calling 878-9450. We’re here to work with you on your improvement projects.