Beaufort County is ready to assist homeowners who will be rebuilding, repairing and reconstructing storm-damaged structures, reopening its building codes offices in Beaufort and Bluffton at 8 a.m. today. The county can issue permits for those in unincorporated areas of the county only, a County Codes Office employee said Wednesday; those seeking to repair or rebuild structures within municipalities should check with code departments there.
The county has two offices — one on the second floor of the County Administration Building at 100 Ribaut Road in Beaufort, and the other on the third floord of the Myrtle Park Building at 4819 Bluffton Parkway in Bluffton.
“The rebuilding process can be complicated, but Beaufort County is committed to helping homeowners through this recovery effort,” county building codes director Chuck Atkinson said on the county’s website. “Although the speed of reconstruction is a high priority, the safety of the reconstruction process and application of all required building codes are also a paramount issue. Recovery after a storm requires a lot of patience.”
The following information is being provided to serve as a general guide to assist property owners and properly licensed contractors through the permitting process:
▪ Work that does not require a building permit: removal of debris from on or in a structure, minor demolition to prevent injury or further damage to buildings, structural shoring and bracing, replacement of broken windows and doors, minor non-structural repairs made to the exterior of structures, repair of minor water leaks that do not involve structural, mechanical or electrical systems.
▪ Emergency mechanical and electrical repairs: Where equipment replacement or electrical repairs must be made in an emergency situation, a properly licensed contractor may perform the work while onsite and submit a permit application within 48 hours of completing the repairs. Note that power releases and required inspections will not be performed until the work has been permitted.
▪ Buildings with structural damage: Buildings that require structural repairs will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To speed this process, permit applicants should provide photographs of damaged areas to assist county staff in determining what construction documents will be required for permit approval.
Questions concerning permit requirements should be sent via email to email@example.com or by calling the Beaufort County Building Codes Office at 843-255-2065.
The municipalities are working to assess damage and issue permits, as well.
City of Beaufort
Town building inspectors are inspecting homes to asses damage and expedite permitting so repairs can begin, according an email newsletter Wednesday from Mayor Billy Keyserling. Seventy assessments have been completed. In 45 instances, minor damage was detected and permits issued to being repair with no further paperwork required. Owners of 22 buildings with more severe damage have been asked to contact the town building department, and only three have been deemed unsafe to begin work at this time. Damage assessments are expected to be completed by the end of the week, the website said.
Town of Hilton Head Island
The town’s damage-assessment team inspected about 400 businesses outside gated communities on Monday and found approximately 20 with some damage, according to an update on the town website Tuesday afternoon. At that time, 917 businesses had been inspected for structural damage.
Town of Bluffton
Although power has not been restored to Bluffton Town Hall, permitting office employees were called in to work Wednesday and have set up shop in the lobby of the town’s police department. They will help those seeking permits for recovery repairs and rebuilding only, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, according to public information officer Debbie Szpanka. Town Hall is expected to reopen Monday, Oct. 17.
A permit is not required for debris removal in or on a structure or if a homeowner is making minor repairs to prevent further property damage or personal injury. No permit is required if a homeowner is repairing minor water leaks that do not involve structural, mechanical or electrical systems.
▪ There is no charge for emergency permits.
▪ If a homeowner has trees which may present a hazard, a permit is not required.
▪ If removing trees which do not present a hazard, a permit might be required. Property owners should call 843-706-4522 for specific questions about their cases.
▪ Those who live along S.C. 46, S.C. 170, U.S. 278, May River Road or in the Bluffton Historic District are required to bring pre-disaster photos when they apply for a permit.
▪ If a homeowner has structural damage, bring photographs of the damaged structure. Permits for these requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
▪ During this emergency permitting period, the town will not accept applications for new permits. Power releases to the utility companies, certificates of occupancy and building inspections will be issued on a case-by-case basis.
▪ Out-of-town contractors should call the town’s business license office, also temporarily set up in the Bluffton Police Department, at 843-706-4526 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Town of Port Royal
The town of Port Royal’s inspectors have been conducting building-by-building inspections for several days, according to town manager Van Willis. “A couple thousand” buildings within the north of Battery Creek have been examined, with structural damage detected in just 35 of them. Most were marked with a green sticker, indicating damage is minor and no further permitting is required to proceed with repairs. Those with yellow stickers have damage that require work by an electrician or other contractor, and thus additional permitting. Those with red stickers have structural damage and are not safe to reenter.
Willis did not have an exact count of buildings with yellow or red stickers but said there were “only a few.” Those whose buildings are marked yellow or red should check with the town’s codes department at Town Hall, 700 Paris Ave.
“We’re trying to make sure we help people get this taken care of as fast as possible,” Willis said.
Inspectors are now working on areas of the town south of Battery Creek, on the opposite side of the Bell Bridge. Willis said damage there doesn’t seem as severe and that he does not anticipate the tally of buildings incurring damage to get much higher.