ORLANDO, Fla. – When a contractor replaced the roof of the Ebel Saint Louis home in 2016, the homeowner assumed the job was complete and the county building inspectors had approved the work. To his surprise, however, this was not the case.
Saint Louis was shocked when News 6 reporter Mike DeForest informed him last week that the roof had failed an inspection during the works.
“This is news to me,” said Saint Louis, who was also unaware of the county records showing that his roofing permit has expired because the contractor never planned a final inspection.
When homeowners hire a contractor to carry out construction or renovation projects, such as For example, to replace a roof, install windows, replace a water heater or connect an air conditioning system, the contractor must first obtain the relevant permits from the local construction department.
These contractors are also obliged to arrange an inspection with the city building inspectors after the work is completed.
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As News 6 noted, contractors sometimes forget about or purposely fail to meet permit requirements, which gets homeowners in trouble.
If inspections do not take place within six months of a building permit being issued or six months after a prior inspection, the permit will expire and will no longer be valid.
Homeowners with expired permits on their property may have trouble selling their home, refinancing, or getting new permits for other improvement projects.
Many homeowners discover these expired permits when a title company searches for open questions while selling a property.
“When that search came up, they said, ‘Oh my god, I have an expired permit and I’ll be closing in a week,” said Aneta Duhigg, deputy director of building security in Orange County.
Through a request for public records, News 6 received a list of homes with expired building permits. DeForest then visited many of these homes to see if the owners knew about the situation.
Every homeowner contacted by News 6 was unaware that the contractors had failed to meet the permit and inspection requirements.
“I was very surprised,” said Leah Cawby.
Records show that a roof permit for Cawby’s house has expired after no final inspection.
“I bought the house two years ago and found that the roof was being replaced in the month before I bought the house,” she said. “I’ll definitely take care of it to make sure it doesn’t cause me any more problems in the future.”
Likewise, Hugh Goshop did not know about an expired roof permit until News 6 brought it to his attention.
“We thought it was weird because (the contractor) did the job. Then they disappeared,” said Goshop.
Records show that Goshop hired the same roofer, American Hero Construction, who ran the Saint Louis permit without a final inspection.
American Hero Construction officials, who recently went through a management change, said the company didn’t learn of these expired permits until they were contacted by News 6.
The company is now working with Orange County officials to resolve these pending licensing issues.
“It is our job to close the permits and we will,” said owner Robert Phelan. “Our customers deserve better and we will take care of it.”
Orange County building security officials said expired permits are often the result of busy contractors who simply forgot to schedule inspections.
“In many cases I call the contractors myself and say, ‘Can you help this homeowner?'” Duhigg told News 6. “And the answer is always ‘yes’.”
Orange County’s Building Security Department recently started sending email notifications to contractors 30 days before permits expired. This technique appears to be producing results.
Almost 2,500 commercial and residential permits expired in 2017, according to records from the district. Only 229 permits expired in the first nine months of 2018, a significant drop that district officials attribute to the new alerts.
The county hopes to further reduce these numbers by potentially sending notifications to contractors and homeowners after permits expire.
To make it easier for homeowners to determine if their property has expired permits, many communities, such as Orange County and the city of Orlando, post permit records online.
According to Duhigg, if a contractor refuses to attend to an expired permit or cannot be reached, the homeowner is responsible for ensuring that all permit requirements are met.
“I just want to help you,” she said. “Every scenario is different, but we have answers to all of them.”
In many cases, the homeowner must personally visit their community’s building department and pay for a permit renewal. In Orange County, this fee starts at $ 38.
The construction department will then appoint an inspector to visit the house, often within a day or two of the permit renewal.
“In many cases that I have observed, they pass the final inspection,” said Duhigg. “The problem is if the inspection fails. We can ask them to use a licensed contractor to complete the process.”
Depending on the specific situation, it can cost homeowners a significant amount of time and money to hire someone to fix any construction defects.
“Our advice to every homeowner is involved,” said Duhigg. “Do not make your final payment (to the contractor) until you see evidence that the final inspection was successfully completed. If the (inspection) result is” partial “,” failed “or any other result, make the final Payment not. “
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