In a message dated 1/13/02 8:52:49 AM Pacific Standard Time, K6NR@ARRL.net
> I'm looking to put up a tower in San Bernardino County, Ca and I'm
> interested in input as to what sort of permit/engineering help I should
> I live in Orange County, Ca on a small lot with 35' height restrictions. A
> few years back, my brothers and I purchased a house on 2.5 acres in a San
> Bernardino, County desert area. My brother lives in the house, I get a
> for a remote station and the "back yard". I've had lots of fun with masts,
> a 40m 4 square, 80m verticals, etc., but eventually I want to put up a
> I have spoken with the County building permit folks, and with a few other
> hams that have gone through the permit process. Even though I'm in the
> desert, San Bernardino County has lots of urban areas and the county folk
> appear to be sticklers for detail.
Well, this ain't the good old days anymore when if you wanted to put up a
tower, you just PUT IT UP!
"Sticklers for detail" is sort of meaningless. What they're telling you
is that there are building codes for their area of responsibility (I'll
assume it's the county in this case). There are several building codes that
have been adopted by just about everyone - the UBC (Uniform Building Code)
being the one I've seen the most of - there are others.
This is to insure safety and consistency in construction methods and
materials. The codes are there to protect everyone and it's in your best
interest to know what they are and comply with them.
(Obtaining building permits is another story. Drop me a note off the
reflector if you want more info on the BP vs. no BP scenario.)
> To get a permit I need an accurate and
> properly drawn lot plan, engineering diagrams of the tower, etc.
Standard stuff these days.
> I don't think my Visio lot plan will cut the mustard.
Yes, it will. They just want a representative drawing that reflects where
the utilities are vis-a-vis where you want to put your tower.
> Engineering diagrams must be done by an engineer licensed in California.
Correcto mundo. More standard stuff since the building department wants
your plans to reflect California and county codes.
> I am an hour and half away from
> the remote location, so trips up to deal with the County, contractors,
> delivery, etc., might be an issue at times.
That's why we have the telephone, email, faxes, and Fedex.
You can act as the howeowner/contractor or you can hire someone to do it
all for you. Arranging all this stuff is what you pay someone to do since
it's a moderate juggling job.
> I understand the County will want to visit before I start,
Most likely not. What will they inspect? The dirt?
> visit after the hole is dug,
Yes. What they will be looking at is the rebar cage vis-a-vis your plans.
This takes about ten minutes.
> visit after the base is poured, and visit again when the tower goes up.
This is the same thing. It's called the final inspection. Every job I've
been involved with only has these two visits by the building inspector. As a
contractor, I let the owner take care of the final inspection. The inspector
usually comes out, says, "Yep, that's a tower" and signs the permit.
> I was told they
> asked one guy to hire a professional bolt-tightener (?) to certify the base
> bolts were according to specs.
This is something that I'm wrangling with right now. The building
department thinks you need it but I've had the engineering firm tech come
out, look at the installation, say "I don't have to inspect this", and leave.
It's got something to do with whether the bolts are "connecting" or not but
this should be something you can get around.
You've got to remember that 1) the building department thinks that
everything is a habitable structure and 2) they've probably not run into a
ham tower application before. Your job (or your contractor's job) is
partially to educate them about what's appropriate and what's not.
> What sort of help should I seek, and where might I find it? There is the
> ARRL volunteer engineer program - is that list a good source of folks who
> can help me with lot plans etc.? (I once contacted an engineer on the
> he said he could not help me). Would it be better to find a "general
> contractor" of some sort in the area who can do lot plans and work the
> permit process for me? Anyone have any references of engineer or
> types in the San Bernardino County area? I have come across some folks who
> can help with tower construction, but they don't do the permit stuff.
My company, Tower Tech, does total turnkey installations. Right now I'm
working on a tower to be installed in AZ (I'm in WA) and the only thing the
owner is doing is putting a stake in the ground where he wants the tower to
go. I'll be taking care of everything else.
As a tower professional who has worked on over 150 amateur installations,
I'm very good at resolving the problems you would encounter because I've been
through it all before.
Contact me directly if you want more info.
> I'm thinking of acquiring a US Tower crankup - my understanding is that I
> can get engineering diagrams from them. Since they are located in
> California, they should be acceptable to the County. But, I haven't seen
> them yet. I have modest goals of a tribander at 60'.
Yes - they have "canned" drawings you can buy and you shouldn't have any
problem getting them approved by your building department.
Cheers & GL,
A factory authorized US Tower installer
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