‘Tis the season to duck the municipal inspector

A.M. Costa Rica graphic Permit is needed even for sidewalk work

Deck the halls with boughs of holly and don’t forget the chain saw. For it is the season to do all those construction jobs while municipal inspectors are on vacation.

This is the season to whack down that tree in the wrong place or put a quick addition on the home.

Municipal inspections are spotty at best, but this week in residential areas all over the country, homeowners are doing those jobs without benefit of municipal permits.

According to one set of instructions for what is called minor jobs, municipalities require permits for even painting a home. Also needed are permits for doing sidewalk reconstruction and rebuilding portons or those metal fences that protect most homes.

The permits even are required for construction of private mausoleums in cemeteries.

For even the most minor work some nine documents are required and special insurance is required after the permit is issued. So what is clear is why residents sidestep the law when the inspector is away.

Most municipalities this week are open for payment of bills or other indoor work. Meanwhile, outside, workers are feverishly mixing concrete, digging drain lines and chopping down trees.

Heaven help the homeowner who wants to do major work legally, such as add a carport. That requires far more additional paperwork, including disclosure of from where the money is coming to do the job.

So in keeping with the Costa Rican tradition that it is better to seek forgiveness than permission, the Christmas holidays and Holy Week are not vacation times for day laborers who mix the concrete, repair the roof or install a new porton.

The only danger is if an unhappy neighbor filed a complaint with the municipality when inspectors are again on the job. Still most understand that there is a big gap between the law and practice. They are likely to overlook the indiscretion if the work is done correctly.

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