Jennifer Eliuk: Lots going on behind the scenes in Vail |

Jennifer Eliuk: Lots going on behind the scenes in Vail

Jennifer Eliuk
Vail, CO, Colorado

VAIL, Colo. ” Cranes, delivery trucks, excavators ” construction activity during Vail’s renewal seems to be everywhere.

To the average citizen or visitor, it may all appear like chaos. However, behind the scenes, there is a substantial amount of work being done by a variety of stakeholders to keep projects structured, safe and on schedule.

Like the coordination happening backstage at the Cirque du Soleil, what we see on the street is only a fraction of the work being done on any given project.

The town of Vail plays a major role in these behind-the-scenes activities, from development review through project completion. Municipal services range from reviewing plans and inspecting project sites to ensuring compliance with development and building codes, to maintaining public and worker safety on-site.

Several town of Vail departments are involved in this overall effort, including Community Development, Fire, Police and Public Works.

In this monthly column, I’ll bring you information on how the development-review process works, from large-scale hotel projects to your home improvements.

I look forward to sharing tips, answering your questions and bringing you information on how the town is working hard to facilitate projects of any scope.

This month, I’d like to share some information about fireplaces.

Converting wood fireplaces to gas: As the snow starts to make appearances and temperatures drop, some people are converting their wood fireplaces to gas.

A mechanical permit is required for this work, and registered mechanical contractors apply for those on behalf of the home owner.

When they get their permit, we’ll explain these town requirements:

– Manual damper in flue must be welded or permanently fixed open.

– If no information about the existing factory-built, metal fire box is available, gas log sets are limited to 30,000 Btu.

– Masonry fire boxes are not limited to 30,000 Btu.

– Gas piping also requires a permit if done by a separate contractor (otherwise it’s included in the permit for the conversion).

Permits are processed very quickly (within a day or two) and permit fees for converting wood to gas are waived, so your permit will be free. Be sure your contractor has obtained their mechanical permit before starting this work and they’re calling for inspections.

Chimney shrouds: When installing a new fireplace, you might be thinking of installing a decorative chimney shroud. Even though shrouds are not required, if installed, they must meet all town codes.

First, choose a fireplace that allows chimney shrouds (manufacturer’s installation instructions or cut sheets should have this information). Second, choose a shroud that is listed by a testing agency such as Underwriters Laboratories and will work with your fireplace. Only listed shrouds are accepted, so ask your dealer-manufacturer for this information.

Once you’ve chosen the shroud you want to use, stop by the Community Development office with a picture or brochure of the shroud and apply for Design Review Board approval.

Once this approval has been granted, your registered mechanical contractor doing the work can apply for a mechanical permit with the cut sheets for the products you’re using to ensure compliance with the mechanical code.

“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” ” Winston Churchill

If you would like to submit questions or have an idea for an upcoming column, please contact Jennifer Eliuk, development review coordinator, at or call 970-479-2128.

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