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Spring building permit season arrives in Ogdensburg

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The flow of people in and out of the code enforcement office at Ogdensburg City Hall has been notably steady recently, and for good reason.

Code Enforcement Officer Gregg A. Mallette has begun dealing with the annual spring ritual of building permit requests.

“This is the time when building activity starts to speed up,” Mr. Mallette said Thursday.

Most of the building permit requests that Mr. Mallette’s office processes are for home improvement projects. While many of them like painting, carpeting, tiling, wallpapering, some sheetrock installation and cabinetry with a value of less than $2,500 can be done without a permit, there is no shortage of interior work that cannot.

“It is a common misconception that interior work doesn’t require a permit,” Mr. Mallette said. “That is absolutely false.”

Interior home improvements that require a building permit include electrical, plumbing and heating work. Mr. Mallette said that do-it-yourself installation of utilities without a permit is fraught with oversights that could mean missing out on energy efficiency and, in the case of electrical work, potentially dangerous mistakes.

“It is a huge risk,” he said.

The code enforcement office has so far this year issued about 60 building permits, with more expected as the weather warms up and the snow disappears.

“That’s about normal,” Mr. Mallette said. “But I’m getting a lot more inquiries.”

Mr. Mallette will also wait and see how well another barometer besides weather can be read in determining the building permit forecast for this year: the economy.

Last year, Mr. Mallette’s office issued 415 building permits.

That total was down from 454 in 2011. Less disposable income like income tax refunds that instead went to pay bills was a suspected factor in the decrease.

Mr. Mallette, whose office usually issues about 500 building permits a year, isn’t ready to predict how much building activity his office will issue permits for this year.

The cost of a building permit starts with a base fee that increases in proportion to the dollar value of the project.

According to Mr. Mallette, the fee structure begins at $25 for the first $1,000 and then rises by $3 for every additional $1,000.

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