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Building Requirements

 
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RogerN
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Joined: 10 Feb 2007
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Location: Cadillac

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 8:07 pm    Post subject: Building Requirements Reply with quote

Can anyone share some knowledge w/ regard to building on Bois Blanc?
Are there covenants, such as minimum size dwelling, snow load, etc.
Where is the governing building department? Minimum insulating requirements?

I would like to build a small cottage for occassional use in the summer, so I was thinking of using a composting or vault toilet and water from a cistern. Would this be permissible?

Any insight would be appreciated.
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doug miller
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lots of people will be able to help you if you have specific Qs.

Having built a small cottage recently, I can tell you a few things.

First, the Township has a booklet on the zoning requirements for the island. It is not too long but you should get a copy and review it.

Second, the State Building Code applies to the island--I think Devin Elsie is still the building inspector. He is a nice guy and can give you info as well.

There is a minimum size for the dwelling you would construct. Both the building code and the ordinance have minimums---I think the township minimum is about 600 or so square feet.

The important thing to know is that Michigan does not have a provision for seasonal dwellings. That is, if you are going to build something that you want to get an occupancy permit for and legally occupy, it must comply with all building code requirements for a year round home--insulation, etc. I don't know what that means for the kind of toilet you are using. I don't think water from a cistern would be legally authorized.

Re snow loads, Michigan has a snow load map that the building inspectors use. The funny thing is, the line between the one for much of the UP (larger snow load) and the lower northern peninsula goes right through the island. I never could definitively figure out the right one--but went with the higher to be safe.

In my opinion, the big issue in building a dwelling you can get an occupancy permit for is the septic system. Because much of the island has lots of stone, not a lot of sand, and a high water table, it is hard to get a really inexpensive, gravity feed system. If that becomes an issue for you, I would contact Eric Gibbons to discuss it. He put my system in and I recommend him highly.

Finally, you can build a building of 200 square feet or less without getting a state building permit, but you still need to get a zoning permit from the township. But I am pretty sure such buildings are not legal dwellings. How the Township would treat using such a building as an occasional summer camp, I don't know--but I bet others here will have some insight into that.

Good luck.
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DawnM
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roger,

We were considering a composting toilet and called one of the companies that make them and they told us to call the county to find out if they were permitted, so we called the county and were told they would not issue a permit for that type of system. Now we have an application from the county for a privy system.

Dawn and Tim
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Conis
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Add a couple comments to Dougs:

BBI is under state building codes.

Devin Elsea is the inspector, easy to get along with and on the island weekly. His folks have a place on BBI. Devin will do inspections on Sunday, at night, whenever. He returns his calls ASAP

Getting a copy of BBI zoning regs and Mi department building codes is highly recommended.

From what I have learned from a neighbor, who built a cottage just up from me this past summer...

BBi is considered in the high snow load zone. He didn't put in a well and grandfathered in on a preexisting outhouse. New outhouses must have a concrete vault under them.

I believe the minimum sq footage is now 720 sq feet (or was under discussion). A Sleeping loft will keep the "footprint size", smaller.

Septic systems are often engineered mound type systems due to all the stone and often high water tables. A site by site perk test is required. I believe a septic system is required UNLESS you have a grandfathered in outhouse (as did my neighbor). No idea about composting systems. Still grey water/septic consideration.

There is one catch: IF you are building in an area that DOES NOT (IS NOT) serviced by electric power, State health codes offer an open variance for "primative camps". An outdoor pitcher pump is allowed as is an outhouse (with vault). Electrical permits are not required IF there is no electricity nor are plumbing IF there is no indoor plumbing. If you use a generator or power comes in, then you must upgrade. I found a copy of this Health department variance bulletin on line. I assume as a blanket response to the hundreds of requests from this building camps in remote areas.

www.michigan.gov/documents/dleg_bccfs_techbu24_144517_7.pdf

I think the maximum sq footage for a "shed" is 144, 12x12. Not sure on size or if a permit is required. This covers most "garden sheds".

I heard that as of this past year, permits were no longer being issued for pole barns or garages unless a residential permit was issued first. This prevents "garage camps'. You't have to check into this, too.

Beyond that, There are setback requirements and possibly land evaluation permits. Which vary by lot size and location...

Whatever you build has to be built to state residential code, seasonal or not. Insulation, windows, sq footage and all. Better send off for the booklets.

I built a 8x24 screen porch on my camp last summer. Called the state building department with a couple questions, had building permits in a weeks time. I found the township zoning (Paul St.Germaine) and Devin Elsea very helpful and easy to work with. (Quite unlike downstate). I have been told the state Health dept inspector (septics/wells) is also easy going and flexible. I have never dealt with him personally... but have island friends who have.

Get your ducks in a row, your wallet out and go for it!

Only other comment: Building ANYTHING on an island costs more (+freight) and takes much longer than anticipated. Get organized and be ready to go.
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John Elmer Engel
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 7:40 pm    Post subject: RogerN Reply with quote

Just a thought.

At first, change the land as little as possible. Access and a structure site are all that are necessary at first. As you spend time on the land, working, relaxing, and enjoying, you will become acquainted with its nuances. The mosses, the lichens, the leaves, the tree bark, the wind in the branches, the smell of the forest after a rain, will amaze and relax one's being. The more nature you keep, the more nature you'll enjoy.

Just a thought.
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doug miller
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is great advice John, and nicely put too.
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John Elmer Engel
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Doug.

As I was snowshoeing with my dog, Lady, I was thinking, of course, about BBI. I live 185 miles south of Bois Blanc Island. 185 miles isn't that far. Yet, here in Bay City, there is NOTHING on the shorelines like BBI. Here it is sand, silt, cattail flats, sand berms with oaks, grasses, and brush. No cedars. No stoney berms. Cottage after collasal cottage with nice lawns line the shore. The water is often murky. It is radically different.

The point??? Just trying to expand the awareness of what a UNIQUE, beautiful, Northern Michigan, straits of Mackinac, wild, natural island we are responsible for. When you measure what can be saved by implementing a few preservation measures as to what is lost by doing nothing, the answer is obvious...at least to me.

Again, Doug, Thanks.
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doug miller
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

By the way, John, I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but a great book that I think you would enjoy is Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard.

Forgive me if I am repeating myself, but it is a latter-day Walden with the added benefit that Annie is a thoughtful and poetic writer. She cites and quotes liberally from lots of great nature writers. Her stories about a polyphemous (sp?) moth, a water bug eating a small frog, a bird dieing in mid-flight, pennies she would leave on a sidewalk near her Pittsburgh, PA home as a free gift from the universe, and her meditations on what it all does or doesn't mean are really worth reading. All in all, a perfect book to read while on the Island.
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