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klhandler 06-16-2014 08:25 AM

Will a Pacific or Colorado pass NY State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Codes?
So after being turned down by multiple municipal code enforcement officers, I found a town which has no zoning regulations. The representative explained the code enforcement officers sign off on building permits before they go to the county for approval. My understanding is that the county will do a fire and sanitary inspection. The county uses "NY State Uniform Fire and Building Codes". Does anyone know if a yurt will pass those codes? Are those codes more or less strict than IBCs?

I appreciate anyone who can translate for me! I feel as though I have been researching permitting for months now, with no understanding of how that would work. :confused:

Washington County, NY | Code Enforcement

jeritchie 06-16-2014 10:35 AM

Re: Will a Pacific or Colorado pass NY State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Cod
Hi Klhander,

I can't speak for Pacific or Colorado Yurts, but I can say that the State of New York has purchased and installed a good number (10+) of our Yurts in their State Parks. We also have Yurts in New York State used in summer campgrounds and as summer cabins. We also put a Yurt in New York City (Brooklyn) last summer.

Looking at the larger pictures - county governments firstly care about poop and property taxes.

More organized county governments want to know about the structure (snow and wind loading), material fire resistance and increasingly overall energy efficiency.

Regarding you specific application - without speaking specifically to your inspector - it looks like you should be okay in Washington County - particularly if you can get a set of engineering certification documents from the Yurt Manufacturer. You will still have to deal with the septic sewer / side of the equation.

One thing - I am assuming you are building in the county - not 'in-town'.

Good Luck

Jerry E. Ritchie, P.E.
Yurts of America

klhandler 06-16-2014 03:26 PM

Re: Will a Pacific or Colorado pass NY State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Cod
Thanks for the prompt reply Jerry!

The sewer and septic seem to be less of the issue; I know I need to have that professionally installed. So, based on your experience, will the county allow me to live permanently in my yurt? I had a CEO, in another town and county, tell me the yurt could be built, as long as I took it down in 180 days. I was hoping to stay a little bit longer than that. :D

I did not realize there was a town code and a county code that needed to be satisfied. I thought once the town approved, we would be good to go. Do counties get involved with R Values? I've heard that is the big issue with getting yurts approved. Also, does the county determine the status of your building. I.e., would the county demand a foundation for year round living, or does that roll into the town approval? It seems the County is responsible for the septic and taxes and the town is responsible for code enforcement.

Thanks for any advice!

jeritchie 06-17-2014 01:04 PM

Re: Will a Pacific or Colorado pass NY State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Cod

Couple of things –

Counties (or townships) versus towns (or cities) – counties tend to have much less restrictive building codes and zoning – some very rural counties literally have no building code or zoning and their residents vigorously resist attempts by state or federal authorities to impose restrictions. This will vary widely across the country and across individual states.

County governments will often impose restrictions via various building standards (i.e. Washington Township mentions IBC 1988) and, as I mentioned previously, sanitary standards. But, within these restrictions there is often wide latitude for building. It isn’t uncommon to drive through the country and see a series of manufactured or tiny homes following my a million dollar home – all with varying degrees of setbacks and different types of outbuildings.

Town governments typically impose restrictions that are much narrower in scope (i.e. setbacks, homes must be a minimum size, you can put a manufacturer house next to my six thousand square foot house, you must pay to hook into the town water and sanitary system, etc.). If you live in a town, they would have jurisdiction. I would expect that if you satisfied the town’s requirement, the county would be satisfied.

Now comes the Federal Government – the federal (and some state) government(s) has issued standards of energy efficiency. Different local governments have begun to enforce these standards. But the enforcement varies widely.

Then there is the property tax issue. Ancillary or temporary structures are taxed differently or not at all. That is why an inspector would say – ‘Fine. Your Yurt is a temporary structure and, hence, not taxed. But, to prove it is a temporary structure, you must take it down every one hundred and eighty days.’ My question would be ‘who is going to come out and inspect?’

Finally – to answer your question – if you satisfy the town you should be fine. Talk to the town building department and take the engineering specifications for the Yurt that you have (or plan to) purchase. This would include the plans for the platform that the Yurt is going to sit on. It will help if the plans are approved by a Professional Engineer. If you are hiring someone locally to put in the septic system, the building department will probably know the, and will easily approve what they are doing.

I hope this helps. I apologize that I can’t speak specifically to the town / county that you are interested in. I am sure a Yurt will meet the structural strength requirements. I don't know if they will require a certain energy efficiency. Zoning of course has nothing to do with the structure - simple what is or isn't allowed to built on a particular piece of property (i.e. no pig-farms or x-rated book stores next to my church).


klhandler 06-17-2014 03:39 PM

Re: Will a Pacific or Colorado pass NY State Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Cod
Thank you for the wealth of information. This is exactly what I've been looking for. I will be sure to give you a call when we decide to put up the yurt!

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