Permits / Notice of Corrrection/ Hiring GC to help

tinyone22August 18, 2014

Long story short I bought my first house a few weeks ago. We hire a licensed plumber and licensed electrician to come in and do some work for us. Per our instructions, they pulled city permits for any work they are doing which requires permits. When the city inspector came to finalize the permits we had pulled, he wouldn�t finalize the permits and he gave us a notice of correction for kitchen + bath remodel work that the prior homeowner did without permits (we didn�t know!). We now have to get the permits for all of that work after the fact as the city is requiring us to and we need to be able to get a loan/refi soon (which we can�t w/out permits). We are in the process of trying to hire a General Contractor to help us through the process of pulling a general remodel permit, exposing the work (i.e opening walls where needed etc) and fixing anything the inspector says may need to be fixed to get it up to code. I met with one GC already and he needs to talk to the inspector before he can give us a bid (which I understand). I want to meet with a second GC as I want to make sure to make the right choice to choose the best person for the project (not necessarily the lowest bid).

My question is � when do I call the second GC? I don�t want to have any GC open any walls until I know which GC I�m going to hire. But I don�t think anyone can give us a bid until we open the walls with the inspector there. I have never owned a house before and have no idea how to proceed. Any thoughts?

P.s. Owner-builder permit is not an option for us�we don�t meet the requirements at this time.

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Pick either GC and offer him a set price selective demolition contract. He will meet with the inspector, open/demolish as necessary for a fixed fee. You will then be able to march as many other GC's past the exposed problems for bids on remediation.

I've done this several times on tile jobs. I demolish and haul away, then submit a bid. I haven't gotten one yet, but everyone's happy with the deal.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 8:21PM
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Thank you! Any ideas on how I can get the inspector to come back? We haven't pulled a general remodel permit yet to try to get the retroactive permits (we need a GC in order to do it). If I ask GC 1 who does the demo to do it, then change GCs the city makes it a big pain (and charges a hefty fee) to change the GC name on the permit plus we would need for GC 1 to sign off on GC 2 taking over.

Also - any idea what a flat fee for a GC for a selective demo like this should cost in Los Angeles area?? It is for kitchen, 2 full baths and 1 powder room.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 12:12PM
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Do you need a permit to do the demolition? Do you need a General Contractor to do the demo?

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:19PM
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good question re: permit to do the demo. I don't know...need to call building and safety or talk to GC. Yes, we need a GC to do the demo. Our plumber is not qualified to do that.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:06PM
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How did it come to light that there was work done without permits?
Someone spoke out of turn.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 5:06PM
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You need a permit to tear out a few sheets of drywall? Good heavens. What would happen if you "accidentally" knocked a few holes in the walls?

Can you get a permit just for demo? And another permit to fix the problems?

Or perhaps permit #1 is to tear out some walls and repair them afterwards (if they won't issue a permit just to demo). And permit #2 is for the fixing.

And how could they issue a permit for the fixing when you don't have a list of what they're going to fix? You have no idea if there are plumbing or electrical issues, and what they might entail. It might be as simple as nailing a few protector plates to studs where wires run through, or as complex as ripping out a tile floor because the drain isn't sloped properly.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:21PM
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Here's a very reputable California contractor who just walked from a job like yours:

Here is a link that might be useful: Walk

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 8:46PM
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The city inspector told us there were no permits on file. That is how we found out. I have spoken to 3 GCs in the last 2 days and all have turned down the job! 2 of them suggested we call the city inspectors boss for a meeting with our inspector to try to reason with them that we did not do the work! We were trying to get permits for our own work. We were doing the right thing.
Anyone ever gone this route??

Also I'm starting to panic that we won't be able to find a GC to help. We love this house and need to fix it. We don't want to bleed money to do so but if the city is requiring us to do so what choice do we have?
But it seems we are having trouble finding GC to even take the job.
I don't know what to do.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 11:15PM
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Since you just bought the house a few weeks ago, I would start with your paperwork from the sale. There should have been a disclosure form from the sellers. What does it say about any work performed without a permit? If it states there was no work performed without a permit, contact your realtor.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:35PM
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I was thinking the same thing as dekeoboe, should have been disclosed in property disclosure (assuming not an estate or foreclosure). I doubt if realtor can really help make it right, but may be able to share some contractors/contacts who may be of help.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:46PM
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"The city inspector told us there were no permits on file."

For what?

What's there beef?

Where are you, generally?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 11:06PM
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Los angeles

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 12:41AM
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What is the scope of the unpermitted work? $500? $1,000? $10,000? What did the inspector say was wrong?

Maybe you just need a licensed trades person to rectify.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 11:56AM
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The inspector said he could not give an estimate. He said he needs us to get a GC here to pull a permit to correct and open some of the walls before he can tell us what we need to rectify. Scope of unpermitted work is set out in my initial post.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:37PM
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I always play by the rules and get permits even though almost every trades person tells me not to if it doesn't involve a safety or structural issue. Your inspector is requesting permits for bath/kitchen remodel work previously done. Were there walls moved, new plumbing installed (not just redoing existing) or new wiring installed? Or did the previous owners change out the countertops, sink, and faucet? Seems like CA is a regulation and tax happy state to me (I moved back a year ago). Our building dept even wants a permit to paint the exterior of your house! After being back in CA a year, it seems to me if a homeowner pulled a permit for everything the city says needs one then they would never do half the updating to their home. When it comes to permits let your common sense guide. Sorry for the rant but CA is out of control on this in some instances. Somewhere they have slipped from protecting the homeowner to government overreach.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 6:10PM
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Sorry, meant contact your real estate attorney.

Sounds to me what the inspector is saying is that the kitchen and bathroom were remodeled without permits and until the walls in those rooms are opened up, he cannot tell if any electrical, plumbing, etc that was done was done correctly. Since there are no permits on file, I take it simply by looking at those rooms he could tell they were remodeled. Not sure how he could tell how much was done and that a permit was needed though, unless you live in an area where a permit is needed for every change you make.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:13PM
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1st of all, you should have had the house inspected by an inspection service, and it not only should have been recommended by your realtor, you should have insisted.

2nd, your realtor should have requested a copy all building permits.

Had you come here BEFORE, you would have received the 1 & 2 recommendations.

North or south of the 10fwy?
East or west of the Harbor and or 405?

Visit HANDELon the LAW because you need a good real estate attny.

This post was edited by snoonyb on Thu, Aug 21, 14 at 21:12

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:08PM
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If the payment to the trades who performed work for you, is dependent upon the inspection being finaled, you should be able to receive a final for those permits.

The logic being that the city has already initiated code enforcement action, that has nothing to do with those permits.

Was this house purchased as an "as is" sale?

Which could explain a lot of this. However, had you gone to the city or county and reviewed the on file permits, you may have been able to save some money in the negotiations.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:21AM
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We had a home inspection before purchase by a great home inspector (and also separate sewer and chimney inspections as well). It is not the job of a private home inspector to research or verify permitting issues - there are even disclaimers on their contracts that state this.

Our RE agent did look into permit history but we had no disclosure from the seller that they did work for which permits are required without the permits. Licensed RE agents are not required to know the ins and outs of the LADBS building codes.

I understand that we may have a legal route to take but the reality is right now we need to do the work and get the permits. This is our house and we are now stuck with the correction notice. Beyond that, we can't wait until legal action is taken (it could take years) to fix this problem for the reasons indicated in my original post.

I think we will be able to get the final permits from the trades who did work for us (small job plumbing + elec permits) once we straighten this whole thing out.

I think we just have to keep looking until we find a qualified licensed GC willing to take the job. Someone out there needs the work and the paycheck. We can then work on pursuing the seller for reimbursement.

This post was edited by tinyone22 on Fri, Aug 22, 14 at 12:36

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 11:58AM
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You are in no position to be competitively bidding the work. You need to get the work started immediately.

You should find a well recommended contractor and pay him the Cost of the Work plus a Fee to handle all aspects of the work including subs and permits. Avoid talking to the building department; your contractor is the best person for that task.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 5:45PM
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I've worked with those who do and those that don't.

A title search would have informed you when the house was built and the line of owners.

You should have been able to tell from when the house was built, if the fixtures had been changed.

The realtor looking into the permits, doesn't put them in your hands.

The bldg. dept. is asking for a B- general contractor for the purpose of accomplishing the repairs.

However, I would think that if you had a to scale drawing of the areas in question, and ask them to detail the areas for exposure. you should not need a general to do that.

So, when thats accomplished to their satisfaction, finding a contractor will be easier.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 6:15PM
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Without trying to digest all these replies, there is one question that seems to have gone unanswered throughout this thread: what, SPECIFICALLY, does the inspector claim need to be fixed????!!!???

I have met many inspectors over the years, most are of medicore experience and many like to simply be a pita. One once claimed I needed to use nails on a deck simpson when construction deck screws I was using were of a higher tensile strength. He held up my job and then I held up his employment.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 7:14PM
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