When there’s even just the slightest slope in a job that we’re bidding, we go ahead and inform our customers that there will be an additional $700 charge for geotechnical engineering. In most cases, this involves about five minutes of work ... literally: a glance down the hole, and a “yes” or a “no.” It doesn’t take long before the technician or engineer is finished looking, gets in his company vehicle, and drives off to his next inspection. We almost cheer out loud when we find out that a customer resides in a hassle-free area, where we don’t have to jump through too many zoning hoops.
My husband was at a variance meeting recently with one of our customers to argue that they should be allowed to have a deck or porch at their front door. This would be a simple 12-by-14-foot rectangular wood deck with a wood railing. So far, it’s cost $250 for the application fee (with no guarantee it will be approved) and $500 for the surveyor (because the zoning department couldn’t locate a plot plan, not even on microfiche). I will honestly be surprised if it results in a yes.
(from Comments section at deckmagazine.com)