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Building a ROR in Florida ..... legally

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#1 BlackSink

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 07:57 AM

A retired science teacher in Central Florida wants to build a ROR.....  So .......

He buys the SkyShed Plans, prepares a nice patio area with electric hookup in the backyard, fabricates a strong pier to hold his LX200 14" scope, joins NSN and learns how to use a Mallincam ...... He does all of this knowing the greatest challenge to legally build a 8x10 shed will come from the local Building Dept.  ...... which has clearly stated that any structure "bigger than a small doghouse" must have sealed engineering plans as the first step in the permitting process......  with a certified "Wind Load" rating of 140MPH...  I am not making this up.

 

Yes, I know many folks in the county just do what they want and hope for the best. Not me.

Yes, I know 140MPH winds in Central Florida would blow away all the "certified" Mobil homes.

Yes, I have a friend in the business trying to find an engineer who can help. No luck yet.

Yes, I have contacted SkyShed, inc. but they can't modify the plans for every county in the U.S.

Yes, I have asked around looking for other Floridians who have built a ROR and found one.

 

But.....   somewhere out there is a wonderful person ....... who has legally built a SkyShed ROR in Florida (or other area requiring wind load calculations) , found an engineer interested in the project with reasonable rates, and can help me get the sealed engineering plans needed by the guys at MCBD .......   You may be that wonderful person.   :-).        Don

------------------------------------

Update ......Great suggestions.  ......... 

 

Ask for a waiver/exemption, you've got nothing to loose. >>> This may well be in the cards but I first want to try to do it by the regular rules .....  so I am looking for a Florida "astro" engineer.

 

There are several Astronomy clubs in the Ocala area: Contact the club president and I'm sure you will get plenty of information on how to deal with the local building department.

>>> Yes, I have contacted two of the local groups ..... and have one lead on an engineer who was used used back in 2003 .... this may be a good plan.

 

A key point may be whether the structure is temporary or permanent.  The codes may not apply to a temporary structure.

>>>>>> The local building dept. boys don't care ..... all Florida sheds must be engineered for 140mph winds (higher at the coast) ..... the "portable shed" dealers spend  thousands of dollars to "certify" the standard model  sheds they sell.  This is why few folks build a shed.  yeah, crazy.

 

You might contact a local contractor who could build something to meet the code. >>>> 

Yes, I have friends in the trades but they are still going to need those sealed engineering plans.

 

We might end up in Escambia County at some point, so Id decided to to read up on it.  First off, structures below 400 sq ft do not need to meet the wind requirement calculations.>>>

Escambia County, you guys have some of the biggest alligators in Florida .....  Marion County is not wise enough to have a 400 sq ft rule .... they will really tell you .... "if it's bigger than a small doghouse you need engineered plans"

 

All of this doesn't help you directly....just some background. You're taking the right approach....Marion county doesn't generally see a lot of hurricane activity but it only takes one. And, you don't want your efforts to blow away (even though you would bring your equipment inside). Considering all of the expense going into the observatory the Structural PE wont be that large of an expense (I'm guessing $500-$1,000) and you'll rest easy. Plus you will likely have a more sturdy and drier permanent structure. >>>>>>>>>

 

>>>>>>>>. Good post ...It sounds like you know the details of my situation.... Let me know if you come across an engineer that has done a ROR.... I think the SkyShed observatory project can be properly done , it's just surprising how complicated the process can be here .....  I have a neighbor helping me who actually has a permitting business, regularly uses local engineers, knows the county building department and who will probable solve my problem .....     but for now we are still waiting for one of her engineering contacts to find time and interest in the project. 

 

 

 

 


Edited by BlackSink, 22 August 2015 - 06:36 AM.


#2 Goofi

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 08:15 AM

Don, there are many ways to skin a cat ... I'd suggest a different approach: "The rules are there to reference them when you break them."   Check the building codes and see if they allow for an exemption, or petition to get an exemption based on the design & use of the structure.  

 

I understand wanting to follow the rules. Good on you!  But the structure you want to build is not for people to live in, or even visit. It's an observatory for a telescope.  About the only grounds I can think of for them not even considering a waiver/exemption is (1) they don't feel like it, or (2) concern your structure will fly apart in a hurricane and damage adjacent buildings.  That first one is a lousy reason for doing/not doing anything, and I'd challenge it.  The concern about hurricanes is valid, but I think you have a good case to be made that your sky shed is not as dangerous as a mobile home, or even a garden shed.

 

Ask for a waiver/exemption, you've got nothing to loose.   :)



#3 *skyguy*

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 09:13 AM

Don ... Welcome to the CloudyNights Forums!

 

There are several Astronomy clubs in the Ocala area:

 

http://www.4saleusa....stro/flmap.html

 

Contact the club president and I'm sure you will get plenty of information on how to deal with the local building department. If there are amateur astronomers in your area, there will be amateur astronomer observatories. It would also be a good idea to become a member.

 

Good Luck with your observatory project.

 

Jim



#4 Lance1234

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 10:08 AM

Don,

 

A key point may be whether the structure is temporary or permanent.  The codes may not apply to a temporary structure.  You'd have to get a good understanding of the details of the local building codes but temporary can be as simple as no permanent electrical or utility hook up, i.e. you can run permanent wiring inside the observatory; you just have to connect it to the outside power with an extension cord rather than hardwiring it.  I'm not intimately familiar with SkyShed, and while you said you bought "plans", I thought they were prefab plastic structures.  If that's the case, then it is nothing more than a fancy Rubbermaid garden shed, which is a temporary structure. 

 

There is a fellow CNer in Oregon named Dave who built a temporary observatory for just those reasons.  Here's his post about it in the observatory forum.

http://www.cloudynig...ermaid-big-max/

You might get in contact with him.

 

Best of luck!



#5 DuncanM

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 03:31 PM

You might contact a local contractor who could build something to meet the code. 

 

I suspect that the biggest problem you would have is designing the roll-off roof. OTOH, you could build an 8 x 10 structure on a slab that has concrete poured over the hold down bolts as per here:

 

https://photos.googl...XkzZDJVcEoyWTlB

 

and then design something that will bolt down and not come apart (4 x 4s screwed and glued?)

 

and then design either some mega-roof or a very lightweight fabric roof, that would blow away but not kill anybody so that officially you would have a shelter and not a RoR 

 

If your RoR, didn't meet code, and did blow away and strike a neighbours house you could be in hot water legally and financially.



#6 Raginar

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Posted 19 August 2015 - 04:38 PM

Hey Don,

 

   We might end up in Escambia County at some point, so Id decided to to read up on it.  First off, structures below 400 sq ft do not need to meet the wind requirement calculations.  You do need to provide a property overview and plans to the inspection office before they'll issue you a permit however.  Often, they can be hand drawn... so call and find out what they are looking for before making assumptions.  

 

Electrical hookups can be done with a permit by the homeowner.  The big caveat they posted was you have to be the homeowner and apparently they give you a 'test' to make sure you're not making it up before you attempt it.  I didn't find the questions they posited difficult... but I've done this stuff before too.

 

I think if you have a frank discussion with your code enforcement office (and just tell them it's a shed, you'll definitely freak them out if you say it's an observatory), they'll tell you what you need to do.  They're not there to prevent you from building on your property, they're there to tell you how to do it safely.

 

Another thing to do is go to the lumber yards and ask them.  They're very good at selling it and it's in their interest to know how to get a shed approved.

 

Caveat, all the research I did was based on what I read on the Escambia County website.

Link: http://myescambia.co...dardDetails.pdf

 

Chris


Edited by Raginar, 19 August 2015 - 05:05 PM.


#7 Raginar

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Posted 20 August 2015 - 12:33 AM

Did I mention I don't like Florida very much? :)



#8 pgandy

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Posted 21 August 2015 - 12:32 PM

We flopped the other way after Andrew in '94 and later the hurricanes of '04-'06. And... the 2014 FBC 5th edition is now being adopted by agencies across the state and has even more stringent wind requirements. Many building officials actually had the finger pointed at them after these catastrophes and aren't inclined to be lenient. Also, you don't want to get caught building one without a permit....penalties are triple damages. One of the goals of the code is to protect other structures (homes, inhabited structures) from things like flying building materials.....a great deal of damage is done during a hurricane from things like disintegrating roofs, sheds, stand-alone structures, construction site debris and additions from unapproved structures so it has less to do with 'inhabitants' or 'intended use' of the shed. 

 

All of this doesn't help you directly....just some background. You're taking the right approach....Marion county doesn't generally see a lot of hurricane activity but it only takes one. And, you don't want your efforts to blow away (even though you would bring your equipment inside). Considering all of the expense going into the observatory the Structural PE wont be that large of an expense (I'm guessing $500-$1,000) and you'll rest easy. Plus you will likely have a more sturdy and drier permanent structure.

 

I've looked at several Observatory packages and I think there needs to be more stated by the mfr about local codes and wind ratings, etc. Costly surprise. What's really gonna get your goat is if you do get a hurricane and one of your neighbors' crappy shed blows into your house or car after you follow the rules.

 

BTW, on the topic of observatory expense....I've been looking at these small capacity Mitsubishi split A/C units.....sub 12,000 BTUH for about $1,200. Here, if we want to leave all the goodies in there you practically have to have humidity/climate control. I was in Silver Springs on the 4th of July.....forgot how hot and humid it can get up that way in summer.

 

Good Luck! post pics.


Edited by pgandy, 21 August 2015 - 01:51 PM.


#9 Calypte

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 04:49 PM

What's really gonna get your goat is if you do get a hurricane and one of your neighbors' crappy shed blows into your house or car after you follow the rules.

Living a continent away, this discussion is of only informational interest to me.   But the quoted item caught my attention.  We don't have hurricanes, but we have dust-devils.  Some of them are whoppers.  A couple of years ago a large dust-devil picked up a neighbor's steel shed (the sort of thing you buy as a kit at Home Depot) and dropped it right next to my then-new roll-off observatory, missing it by inches.  The damage could have been considerable, not excluding destruction of the observatory.  Worse, the flying steel shed could have hit the house (a large manufactured home).



#10 BlackSink

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Posted 27 August 2015 - 06:28 PM

Dust-devil ..... a term we used as Florida kids for little tornado shaped clouds of spinning sand that would sometimes cross the athletic field at school..... harmless but cool to have one hit you as the other guys watched.... be sure to close your eyes... the sand can sting.

 

Do you think your RORO would survive a California dust-devil ? 

In Central Florida it is not so much the hurricanes but the falling trees or tornados that will knock your house down.

 

Oh yes, we also have several types of blood sucking insects that when slapped will slap you back.

The alligators are mostly friendly until they get over 12 ft long and develop a poopy attitude.  ;-)

 

-Don



#11 Calypte

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 11:21 AM

Dust-devil ..... a term we used as Florida kids for little tornado shaped clouds of spinning sand that would sometimes cross the athletic field at school..... harmless but cool to have one hit you as the other guys watched.... be sure to close your eyes... the sand can sting.

 

Do you think your RORO would survive a California dust-devil ? 

In Central Florida it is not so much the hurricanes but the falling trees or tornados that will knock your house down.

 

Oh yes, we also have several types of blood sucking insects that when slapped will slap you back.

The alligators are mostly friendly until they get over 12 ft long and develop a poopy attitude.  ;-)

 

-Don

My observatory was built by BYO.  The rolling roof is heavy, and it's my estimation that it will survive our largest dust-devils.  I don't know of any that have directly hit the observatory, but several have hit the house without causing damage.  We had a lightning strike last year, and that caused some damage.  California has more tornadoes than people like to admit, mostly F0 and F1.  But I've never seen or heard of a tornado here in the high country.  I have family in South Florida.  I've been down there many times.  I've seen the alligators.



#12 seawolfe

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Posted 28 August 2015 - 12:29 PM

"The alligators are mostly friendly until they get over 12 ft long and develop a poopy attitude.  ;-)"

 

So that's why alligators tun into old crocks!  :lol:



#13 BlackSink

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Posted 01 September 2015 - 08:53 AM

RORO Update ...... Keep those cards and letters coming ...... ;-)

 

Lots of great suggestions and observations from CN and astro clubs around Florida.
Nothing firm yet but these contacts may yield good Florida based info for the project.

The engineering solution may come from my neighbor who runs a local permitting business.
One of her engineering associates has said he is interested in the build.
No specifics yet but where there is a will ($$) there is usually a way.  ;-)

Please continue to offer suggestions and possible engineering sources.
This long considered bucket list project is just getting started.
There are bound to be some bumps in the road.  -  Don

RORO Location:   Backyard ......   I can see Polaris above the roof line.....
Yup, There will be thermal issues with those patio pavers and the house roof to the North.

 

 

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Edited by BlackSink, 01 September 2015 - 08:59 AM.


#14 BlackSink

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 01:41 PM

RORO Location :   Another possible choice
Black Sink /  Black Sink Observatory   ???  Why such an odd moniker ???

 

The original plan was to build on my 8 acres at the edge of Black Sink Prairie .....

......1/4 mile down a dead end private drive ....off the country road

 

What is Black Sink Prairie? >>>>

......a few thousand acres of marsh thirty minutes north with dark skies and few inhabitants

......some folks so isolated they fly a flag no longer used by my state. 

..... even though the "farm" is in the middle of nowhere ( you can't get there from here) 

..... the building dept. still requires engineering plans and permits.

 

But one shortcoming is the Internet service ....  

DSL .... slow, too slow I think to broadcast on NSN which is a cool plus for the hobbie.

I checked the upload speed at a friend's house in the area ...  .3 mb... my house cable gets 6+

I guess I could check into dish Internet speeds .... another monthly bill and a 30 minute drive

 

Oh, and another thing.....   

 

Even with an OK from the Building Dept......

An official from the ZONING Dept. has explained to me that a shed of any kind can not go on this property..... you are going to love his explanation.....

 

The property has a barn but no house( Fl building code is very flexible for agricultural structures)

But the county Zoning Code forbids any non agricultural  "auxiliary structure" (shed) on property that does not have a dwelling / house . So, if you just have a barn ...you can't have a shed.

 

Now the guy I was talking to in the building dept. said nothing about this when we talked......

He just explained that legally manufactured sheds in Florida come with a "medallion " that is proof they have been properly engineered and can withstand 140mph+ winds (sure they can).

He also explained about needing sealed engineering plans showing this wind load rating if I wanted to build the shed or have a contractor build it for me. (Like I have said before)

 

But, when the preliminary paperwork crossed the Zoning Dept desk .... gotcha!

Only a structure for agricultural use can be placed on land without a house and a RORO is probably not primarily used to store hay. I was given the analogy " You would not want people to just go out in a vacant field and build a swimming pool... would you?"

 

I just left..... having experienced what may be called  The Building/Zoning Paradox .

 

"If you get engineering plans which we are willing to approve .....we may let you build a RORO in your suburban backyard....   but not on your farm in the middle of nowhere."

 

So, I drove out to the farm .....and screamed ..... but no one answered my cry...

In the middle of nowhere you can raise large animals, cuss, yell, shoot your gun...

But you can't build a shed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Edited by BlackSink, 04 September 2015 - 07:17 AM.


#15 Raginar

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Posted 02 September 2015 - 11:49 PM

Let us know what happens with the plans.  Maybe you can recoup some of the money by selling them at a price.  I imagine if you do a common size like 10x10 you'll be golden.

 

Chris



#16 BlackSink

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 07:34 AM

Hi Chris, 

I may hear from the engineer next week and will follow the build with words and pics.

My little project (heck, It's just a shed) is looking needlessly complex ...

But that is one reason I started the thread ...

for reasons good and bad the construction of a small shed has become (mindlessly) complex $$ in Fl.

So, here comes another "gotcha" in the story.   

 

The thing about engineering plans .... ( I am not a lawyer but did watch Perry Mason on TV)

......  the SkyShed Plans I have and the plans I hope the engineer will produce,  do not belong to me.

 

Such things are usually considered "intellectual property" which the engineer or architect owns .

The client (me) can use the plan but does not own it / can't legally sell it.

....probably can't even legally give it away for a friend to use.

I think that this is why I have never seen a "used" copy SkyShed Plans for sale.

 

Even if I gave the plans to a friend, in my county the plans would not be accepted by our building dept.

The plans must be "sealed plans" directly from the engineer...No seal, No building permit.....  

and remember, those plans can be rejected by the MCBD or a failed inspection can also stop your build.

 

Aren't  you glad to live in South Dakota ?    ;-)

 

Clear Skies,

Don

 


Edited by BlackSink, 03 September 2015 - 05:03 PM.


#17 Raginar

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Posted 03 September 2015 - 09:11 AM

Very.

#18 roscoe

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Posted 04 September 2015 - 10:23 PM

here's an idea - you could build the building from concrete blocks - with a steel door - and tell the inspector that you want to use it to store feed and seed, that you're tired of rats eating and 'leaving deposits' all over your horses' grain.  After the inspection and approval and all, unbolt your windproof roof, add some rollers and tracks, and presto, a grain silo with a moveable roof - to fill it with feed more easily, of course!!!



#19 Raginar

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 03:16 AM

Roscoe, hilarious :)



#20 Richard Whalen

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 07:02 AM

In Florida (Hernando County) if you are zoned ag, you only need to show a site plan in most cases and pay for a $50 building permit for a storage building. They will not inspect or come out to look at it. Just tell them you are building a storage building. The best thing to do is get to know the boss of the building dept, phone calls do not work. You can call 3 times and get three different answers. Once you mention roll off roof, you are doomed.... I would just build it, better to ask for forgivness than permission. If your site is in the middle of no where, chances are they will never know unless you start calling asking questions.....



#21 BlackSink

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 07:05 AM

here's an idea - .....tell the inspector that you want to use it to store feed and seed, that you're tired of rats eating and 'leaving deposits' all over your horses' grain.  .....After the inspection......presto a grain silo with a moveable roof - to fill it with feed more easily, of course!!!

:waytogo:



#22 stmguy

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 07:17 AM

Call it a chicken coop  and  then  buy some plastic chickens :)

Norm



#23 BlackSink

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 07:38 AM

........The best thing to do is get to know the boss of the building dept, phone calls do not work. You can call 3 times and get three different answers. Once you mention roll off roof, you are doomed.... I would just build it, better to ask for forgivness than permission. If your site is in the middle of no where, chances are they will never know unless you start calling asking questions.....

Well Richard,

 

That is what the locals do... not sure why I am trying to follow the rules ..

Plan to build it stronger than a brick @house to protect the equipment.

Maybe I  just enjoy the creative solutions suggested in this thread.

 

Thought folks all over the state have done the SkyShed/ RORO thing...

and found engineers for sheds that pop their tops....  maybe not so much?

 

I have exchanged emails with many of the larger Fl astro clubs ....

..had one response (Chiefland) with name of engineering firm that did a RORO.

Project  was done 12 years ago....emailed the firm but no response.

 

AstroPhotography -   "If it was easy, then everyone would do it".   :-)

My friend with the permitting business continues to work on a solution.

 

Update >>>>.    

One of her engineer contacts has said Yes.

He will let me know the price next week. $$

Stay tuned ........   Don @  Black Sink Observatory

 

 

 


Edited by BlackSink, 06 September 2015 - 07:23 AM.


#24 roscoe

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 08:17 AM

Trouble is, once you ask, they know something is up..... so now you are on the radar......maybe it'd be best to chill out for a year to let the memory fade down at the local office, THEN build a grain storage shed...... (and if you're gonna make this a remote with real gear in it, a concrete shed makes a lot of sense, just rig the roof so you can really clamp it down if the big one's on the way.....giant eye-bolts and big turnbuckles.....)

And, if you're considering even a bit a concrete structure, it might be $$ comparable to block to just have a contractor pour the floor and walls.....  If you insulated the outside with foam sheets and plywood, it wouldn't heat up in the sun, so temp issues would be minimized.



#25 Bigdan

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Posted 05 September 2015 - 09:30 AM

I am in north Florida, Tallahassee area. I am installing a new deck within a setback zone. At first I was denied the new deck due to setback from property line. However, I built the house where the deck would be attached, and when I built, they allowed open deck in the setback zone. I pressed the Planning Department on the issue.... told them they allowed open deck in setback zone when I built, and they had better have Planning Commission approval to not allow open decks in the setback zone now. They had no authority for their denial, and they backed down completely. However, I want to put a Skyshed Pod on the new deck.... in the setback zone. I knew from prior years' experience with the county building department, if it has wheels under it, they consider it portable, and not a building subject to permitting. So, in my letter about the new deck, I said, "Oh, by the way, I want to put this little pod observatory on the new deck. Here's their website.... they make it portable to take out in the field. It is basically just a cover for the telescope, and I can put wheels under it to move it around on the deck. I can ratchet strap it to the hand rail for wind." They totally bought off on it, and sent me an E-mail, saying they do not consider the pod a building, and it is not subject to permitting through the county, as long as I have wheels under it. I'll put little dolly wheels from the hardware store under it initially, but in 2 or 3 months, they'll disappear.


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