Parish waiving permitting fees

If you have property affected by the recent severe storms and flooding in Louisiana, you’re encouraged to get the necessary permits before starting new construction or repairs.

“The first step for any property owners in Louisiana who have damage to their homes or businesses should be to check with your local building official,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gerard M. Stolar. “That official can work with you or your contractor to ensure any permits are properly filed and necessary inspections are carried out.”

Permits may be required for repairs to roofs, walls, siding, wallboard, plaster, insulation, paneling, cabinets, flooring, electrical systems, plumbing, septic systems and heating/air conditioning systems.

Additionally, you should talk to your local floodplain administrator who can help ensure that your repairs are in compliance with your local floodplain management ordinances.

With the proper permits secured, mitigation experts say this is an opportunity to repair and rebuild safer and stronger by taking some smart steps. Those steps, carried out with the help of trained and qualified professionals, include elevating your home; elevating your heating and air-conditioning systems; and rebuilding with flood-resistant materials.

Ascension Parish President Kenny Matassa reiterated on Aug. 29 that parish residents and business owners who experienced flood damage from the great storm of 2016 and have work to do that will require a permit; the charge for that permit will be waived.

“It was brought to my attention that the Louisiana Homebuilders Association claims we are waiving only electrical permit fees. We will be waiving all permit fees for those with flood damage,” Matassa said.

“If you are just replacing sheetrock or doing minimal work that typically doesn’t require a permit, then you don’t need a permit now,” said parish Planning and Development Director Jerome Fournier. “If you’ve had flood damage and you have work to do that does require a permit, there will be no charge for that permit or inspection.”

Building Official Lavern Bourgeois said the types of work that will need a permit but will not carry a charge include building (if reconstruction), structural, electrical, mechanical and plumbing.

“If they are making substantial changes to the floorplan, they will need a plan review,” Fournier said. “Also, if a permit is required we will need to inspect the work performed to that permit. These requirements are for the safety of our homeowners and residents.”

Fournier added that starting this week, any new construction in Ascension Parish or any construction to a structure sustainably damaged by the flood event will require an elevation certificate regardless of the flood zone.

Residents or business owners with any questions regarding permits, certificates or inspections should contact the Planning and Development Department at (225) 450-1002.

DIY Mitigation Ideas

· Power up: After checking what local codes allow, consider raising electrical outlets at least one foot about the minimum flood level for your area, or 24 inches above the floor. Benefit: This helps keep water from seepage or a low-level flood from infiltrating an electrical receptacle.

· Put on a strip: Install weather stripping on outside doors and windows to help seal out air and even water. Benefit: It’s relatively easy to install, is effective and durable and comes in a variety of colors.

· Caulk it up: Use caulk to seal all exterior openings such as holes where wires, cables and pipes enter or exit a structure. Benefit: In severe storms, a well-sealed exterior helps to keep out wind-driven rain and overland flooding.