Steamboat Springs Building official Carl Dunham sent letters to 640 clients this month to inform them their building permits have expired, but there’s still time to renew if they wish.
Dunham, of the Routt County Regional Building Department, told county commissioners Monday that permits for buildings started between 2001 and 2006, whose owners and contractors never asked for a final inspection, expired on Jan. 1.
The letters will allow the building department to catch up to a new three-year lifespan for permits. The lifespan was the result of an autumn 2008 agreement for building inspection services between Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs.
While the buildings were inspected during the construction process, there is no requirement in Routt County that residential buildings get a final inspection and certificate of occupancy, Dunham said. Typically, but not in every case, a financial institution lending money for the construction project insists on that certificate to assure themselves that if they take ownership of the building, it would be habitable.
“We’ve found a couple (of permits) that never got started. Many people, once they get their electrical and plumbing (inspections),” overlook the certificate of occupancy, Dunham said.
Dunham would like to see all of the buildings get their final inspection, but on a pragmatic level, he’s sending out the 640 letters because he already has collected the fees to cover the cost of the final inspection and needs to clear up the financial liabilities on his balance sheet.
“I’m concerned because I want safe buildings in Routt County,” Dunham said. “That’s my mission.”
However, because his department operates as an enterprise fund, it’s also incumbent on him to clear up outstanding obligations attached to unperformed permits.
“Permits can’t be open for an infinite amount of time,” Commissioner Doug Monger said.
The total fees already collected for final inspections that were never requested add up to $365,000, Dunham said.
People who want to obtain their final inspection have until the end of June to visit the building department and renew their original permit. They will be required to pay an additional amount equivalent to half their original fee, based on rates used at that time.
Dunham said he is aware of one building project with total fees of $17,000 that never received a final inspection.
Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush said that as a practical matter, she doesn’t expect that many people will respond and pay the extra amount for the final inspection.