Letter: Fees too high for extending building permits


I am writing to you to bring to light the grossly unfair and regressive “fees“ charged by Island County for “extending” building permits. At this time, permits are only valid for two years and once they expire the county requires an additional fee of half the original fee for a further year. This is totally disproportionate to the costs incurred by the county for doing so as all the plan checking and every inspection fee has already been charged.

This charge is totally regressive and unfair to the many people who chose to build their own homes as it is almost exclusively them who end up taking over two years and paying it.

I have written to the county asking them to waive the unjust and unfair fee but honestly expect to be forced to pay it.

I am a self builder and have worked flat out on the project for six full days a week from before the day the permit was issued. I have no other job and was living on my wife’s income and the budget I had saved for the build.

I believe this extra fee is unfair to self builders, those with the pioneer spirit that built this nation. The only time I was away was for two months when I had to go to the UK to sort out my brother’s estate as he died of COVID last year. I was his next of kin and the executor of his will.

I can understand that the county doesn’t want “unsafe” and untidy half-finished homes about and I believe this would be a justification for the fee to extend the permit in the case of companies but not for self builders. In any event my property is hidden in a wood and is down a dead end road and is only visible to visitors of my two neighbors — one of whom is also currently building so nobody at all is bothered by my taking over two years on the build.

The only way I could have finished it within the two years would be to employ people and I do not have the money to do so, especially with the much higher cost of materials that blew my budget long ago. The only reason I have been able to keep working was a small inheritance from my brother’s estate.

Charging me again for inspections I have already paid for as well as being unfair under my circumstances might also extend the build as I might have to pause to earn some money to pay it which would seem absurd – to drag out the build because I had taken too long (by your reasoning).

Jonathan W. Hinchliffe