On this episode of Chat with the Experts, we talk with Andy Lindus of Lindus Construction about how to navigate the home building process and what to expect.
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The purpose for a building permit is to ensure meeting the minimum standards for construction practices and minimum safety standards. A contractor who works without a permit, does so because they know they are not in compliance (and to save money at your expense). They knew they should have had inspections and permits for their work. Who ever built the addition should be reported to both the building official as well as the Better Business Bureau. It is ultimately the homeowner who is responsible for ensuring the proper permits have been applied for, though.
So when you apply for your permit, you will be pretending as if the work is not completed (you do not hide this fact, you just have to follow the correct process as if it hadn't been built). Your first stop will be with zoning; can you even add an addition, do you have the proper clearances from the side, front and rear property lines. If it is a bedroom, does the septic system (perk test) support an additional bedroom. If your building already meets or exceeds the amount of building allowed on the site or if you do not have the clearances required from the property line, your addition may be required to be removed. There are appeal processes and variance requests you can try before tearing down the addition (Get an architect).
If your zoning review is fine, next you go to permitting. Here you will submit plans (drawings) of what was built. If you do not have these plans, consider hiring an Architect to generate As-Built drawings for this use. Hopefully the plan review comes back with no changes, or you will alread know your addition is not in compliance and may face rebuilding. Depending on the type of construction, your zoning and your local building requirements, you will be required to have inspections of your foundation / footings, the framing, the electrical, mechancial and HVAC systems, etc. affected by the work.
This may require digging the ground back up so the inspector can confirm foundation depth, size and draingage requirements. The interior wall finishes (gypsum board, panelling, etc) may have to be removed in some or all areas so the framing and electrical can be inspected (If one area fails, be prepared to pull all areas down). At each inspection, if the work is found to be lacking, then you will have to correct the work before getting permission to use the room. If there is an electrical or safety violation found, it is possible the Building Official could declare the entire property inhabitable until the offenses are corrected (IE you are homeless until it is fixed).
As you can see, you have to hope beyond belief that the builder constructed everything correctly and that the building officials will work with you to minimize the amount of deconstruction necessary to inspect the work.
Also, you will be charged all the fees associated with plan review and permitting, and you will be charged for each inspection visit (as your builder would have been charged initially had they followed the law).
As for value, here is the real concern: If your home burns down or faces some similar disaster, your home owners insurance will balk at paying; they will blame the illegal construction as the cause. As for the value of your building, not having a permit will make any buyer have a difficult time getting their own insurance, thus harder to sell. The room itself will add value to your property, if it isn't a hazard (IE permitted).
Also, taxes are based upon assessments, which use the land records. Building without a permit, can be seen by local officials as an attempt to avoid paying property taxes, since the land records do not show the addition. Until the official tax records reflect an accurate statement of your building, you may face fines, tax fees and other costs associated with the improvement depending upon how long it has been there unreported.
You may wish to contact a local, licensed Architect who works with the local building department. They will know the personel, know which forms you need to fill out first and how to protect you from an overzealous Building Official (there are exceptions and options within the Code that the Building Official may forget or ignore that an Architect can request be used to prevent tear down or damage). Next time you go to build get the Architect first to protect yourself from what this construction firm did to you.
Each state has different rules on what "as-is" means, but almost all use the term when it comes to realestate sales. At two years, you are facing a hurdle that any issue could be the result of new conditions, acceptable wear / settlement, etc. Has there been any changes in the area? (New house built next door, new addition, earthquake, flooding, etc?)
While you may have been given a home warranty with the purchase (do check your sales paperwork to see if there is any warranty and what it covers for how long) the house is sold to you as-is; it is your responsibility to raise concerns prior to taking over the house, so going back two years later is a huge up hill batle.
The home inspector is also going to be found faultless, as their reports almost always have words like "consult with an expert. . ." after each report section and they have disclaimers for missed items, etc. I got certified as a home inspector and was surprised at just how little they actually require you to know to become an inspector. They are really just an extra pair of eyes to help inexpereinced home owners look where most people don't look or go. You even mention that the repair work was well masked, so you didn't notice it until you began looking for it. A good inspector might have caught it, but you won't win any court cases proving yours wasn't good enough.
The Seller will claim that any foundation issues were fixed and resolved, which is why they marked "No" on the foundation issue section. They fixed it; so it was no longer an issue. If it came back, that is a new issue. You and I know this is bogus, but to win in court you have to prove intent; and the builder can easily show they thought it was fixed. Or, they might even be able to claim they were unaware - the repairs were from the previous owner, and were hidden so well HE and YOU didn't notice them.
So the next step is to meet with your home insurance agent. As I mentioned above, if there have been any enviromental changes (a new house next door could have changed the underground water table flow or pressures, for example) you may be covered. Even if there are no issues, you still may have a policy that allows for major repairs to be covered after a certian cost threshold, etc. You'd be surprised at what your home owners insurance covers - find out first; they might have in house or low cost engineers who will do the initial inspection, etc. They also will provide advice on your home sale; if they think you have a case against the Seller.
Best of luck on this issue. Make sure any solution you pay for solves the cause (Stress on the wall), and doesn't just fix the results (cracks).
Just a note about the "type" of contractors described in another answer. The one's who do most or all of the work themselves are not very profitable without doing something illegal or cutting corners somewhere, if they finish the job. The time a contractor spends on a job takes away from the office time needed to run a proper business and chase new leads to keep working after your job is finished. There are honest people out there who do everything themselves and don't need to make much money in a year but they are few and far between, typically retired and so the work as a means to keep active and make a little side money. Others try to do a couple of jobs at once and rob from the funds of one to help pay for the other. They just aren't experienced enough and were probably sub-contractors who suddenly thought they could run the show. I've seen it repeatedly. They hit up the customer for more money due to their own budget planning or abandon the job because they aren't making any more money. be leary of a contractor who does not either use an employed or sub-contracted crew, meaning they manage the project's quality, time, and money distribution.
Todd's Home Services
Mobile homes used CPVC for years and some still do. It works fine but is not as strong as a properly soldered copper pipe system. Is the contractor installing this new plumbing a licensed plumber? I'd be surprised if he is since he's using CPVC and not PEX (or similar) or copper. PEX pipe is even cheaper than CPVC when run by a knowledgable plumber. It doesn't require nearly as many joints since it comes in rolls and can flex through spaces easily.
There are some groups raising a fuss about BPA and other chemicals found in plastics that don't like the use of CPVC, PVC, or PEX pipe. I haven't seen the results of any lab tests to confirm or dispute their concerns. As far as durability goes it's fairly safe as long as it's properly installed and secured. It is not as susceptible to hard water damage as copper. It absolutely must be insulated along it's entire length to protect it from contact to other materials as well as freezing. Also, the fixtures in the house need to be grounded electrically since the pipe itself provides no electrical protection against accidental shock or electrocution. In a copper plumbed house the system is grounded so static electricity, a short in a wire near a water line, or lightning strike will carry the current out through the pipe instead of through the water to you, ideally.
If it's installed correctly you should be fine but make sure the contractor knows what he is doing and follows the proper procedures to use CPVC pipe.
Todd's Home Services
Home Building reviews in Palmdale
Obviously, I cannot recommend Superior unless they change their operating procedures.
While I would say he's more of an adept handyman. Before our project began, I sent him all of the materials we had purchased so that he would know what he was working with (and be able to make sure he knew how to work with all of it ) and also compare his bid to the budget accordingly. It's clear rather than do the research and be sure he knew what he was doing, he just jumped in. Aside from a host of minor things which one can expect to go wrong during renovation, our floor tile was completely botched.
Also, during his renovation all of our trim and wood work got very chipped and damaged and was left as such. To be honest, we didn't want
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