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Posted by on Jan 13, 2016 in Sweetfern | 4 comments

Sweetfern Update: All for the want of a dryer vent


I can’t even begin to tell you about the weeks leading up to our final move to Sweetfern.

It’s all a blur  — the frantic construction, the thousands of details, appliances that wouldn’t cooperate, deliveries that didn’t get delivered — a veritable plethora of last-minute crises all piled up against an endless outflow of cash and the impending deadline of our scheduled move-in date.

We had given notice to our condo landlord. Everything we owned was in boxes. The movers were booked for the morning of Friday November 13.  We just needed an occupancy permit.


An occupancy permit would be our golden ticket to both financing and moving in.

So, inspection was scheduled for the week prior to give the builders plenty of time to remedy any gaps. Not that we were expecting gaps. An enormous amount of work had gone into making this house not only meet code, but exceed it.

Still, on her first visit the inspector found a few outstanding things that hadn’t quite been done in the rush to completion. Mike and his crew fixed the issues and we scheduled the final inspection for the following Monday — the week of our move.


And so it begins…


Monday: The inspector does a walk-through. Takes notes. Confirms the work she asked for is complete. Goes away.

Tuesday: No permit.

Wednesday: No permit. She asks for the engineering reports. Reports we provided 8 months ago. Reports she has on file in her office. Our paperwork is all in boxes. Our architects scramble to send the reports…again.

Thursday: No permit. The town Building Department is closed because all the staff are at a development seminar.

Friday Moving Day! 

9:30 – Movers arrive and start loading the truck.

10:00 – We get news. Permit denied.

Grounds? Code requires a dryer vent. We don’t have one.

And here’s why: We have a ventless dryer.

Remember all that effort we put into sealing our house? The amazing .59 ACH we achieved? Well you don’t undo all that by cutting a 4″ diameter hole in your wall to vent heat (heat you can use!) from your house.

Now what? We won’t– can’t– install a dryer vent today. We try to explain the dryer does not require a vent.  Tom, our architect, calls her. But there is no getting around it. She won’t budge.

The code is the code, common sense be damned.

She tells us that if we remove the dryer  she’ll give us a provisional permit. It turns out, even if we have no dryer, we’d need a dryer vent. For future people who might buy our house she explains.

The illogic is killing us.

But we suck it up and agree to uninstall the dryer. Of course, we can’t just tell her we removed it or even send her a photo of it standing in the garage and a picture of the empty space. She says she has to inspect it in person.

She’ll get there when she can.

So Mike gets to work removing the offending dryer. And washer, because they are stacked and fastened together.

1:00  — Movers finish packing the truck. We hit the road. It’s 3 hours (plus a grocery stop, gas, and lunch) to Sweetfern.

3:30 – We’re at a rest stop an hour from Sweetfern. Movers are about an hour behind us. Mike texts to say that the building inspector has arrived. We get back on the road.

The phone is silent.

4:15 – Done!

Forty-five minutes later, we arrive. Home at last.



We did end up installing a dryer vent. First Tom wrote a well-argued letter outlining the various arguments against installing one. Aside from the obvious fact that our dryer was ventless, he also argued that since the building code does not require a dryer, it can’t (or shouldn’t) require a vent.

But we all realized that the fight would have to with someone higher up the bureaucratic food chain than our inspector — probably challenging the building code itself.  Lacking the budget or stomach for that, we stood down.

Tom and Jered designed an elegant solution, putting the exterior vent up in the soffit instead of sticking through the wall on the front of our house. And Mike made sure the house seal wasn’t compromised during installation.

Now we have a well-insulated — useless — dryer hose hanging next to the dryer.


And an extra vent in our soffit.

And now, we can finally focus on turning this place into home…






  1. Bureaucracy without the power to make reasonable exceptions borders on insanity; bureaucracy with the power to do so can be sane for a while — until corruption sets in. How frustrating for you, Kim.

  2. Ah bureaucracy. Glad to see you’re getting settled in – just from the few pics you posted I love it already!

  3. Congratulations (conditional, pending approval) on your new home!

    In his final writings, Max Weber said he wasn’t afraid of fascism, he wasn’t afraid of police states, he wasn’t afraid of communism (and he’d lived through and witnessed the worst of them all).

    He was afraid of the great state bureaucracies. These were the real soul-suckers of human life, and they could never be defeated or killed.

    Uhhh one suggestion … I am an old Yankee geezer, and I worship Pierre Eliot Trudeau. Imagine my astonished delight when Justin was elected your new PM.

    Maybe PM Justin could take an interest in your Fight To The Death with the Ventless Dryer Bureaucrats. Surely he has the authority to tell the Bureaucrat lady to Straighten Up & Fly Right.

    You will prevail. Excelsior!

  4. Beautiful. Looks so different with furniture. Here’s wishing you many happy years at Sweetfern,


  1. Sweetfern Update: We’re Selling Sunshine! | Endless Forms Most Beautiful - […] we had a long delay on our building permit thanks to she of the unnecessary dryer vent and some unfinished…

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