Building permits are up for renewal

County mails notice that many old building permits have expired

Advertisement

— 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.

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 1 month ago

From the article: 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.


If the building dept were a private company then they'd be investigated for that sort of practice. They'd be required to return the money to customers that were required to prepay for services that then failed to receive those services. The idea of going back and charging these people a minimum of 58% more to receive those services might even be illegal for a private company.

The building dept is acting as if they want to justify bringing in a private contractor to provide these services.

0

John Fielding 4 years, 1 month ago

I too have some questions regarding how this change in policy can be upheld.

My understanding is that when these permits were issued they were to be valid for the duration of the project as long as they were kept active by requests for inspection or other notification that the project was still ongoing.

I concede that at any time the County may pass new law regarding permits yet to be issued, but this is changing a contract after the fact. Is there something in the fine print that allows them to do this?

Are all governmental entities allowed to pass retroactive fee increases for services or permits already contracted for? In the private sector it is certainly not acceptable.

0

John Fielding 4 years, 1 month ago

PS this does not negate any of the regard I hold for the department. This was not their idea.

0

Clark 4 years ago

 In true Sopranos fashion, Routt County is extorting money from permit holders who were lawfully building their projects!  They have illegally and arbitrarily decided that your project is "expired', even though you (I) were following the rule of law in the building code!   Hey, but you can renew it if you pay them extortion money to make your valid permit valid again.
 Mr. Dunham states in this article that "We've found a couple (of permits) that never got started".  If so, Mr. Dunham, the building code, in section 105, gives you the authority to cancel permits not started or not actively worked on for 180 days.  There was no need to cancel 640 active, valid permits without code-supported cause. My project was actively worked on every week for the last 5 years and the inspector passed by it at least twice every day!  Each time they sent me a letter asking about the status, I phoned, emailed, and faxed confirmation of activity.
 Mr. Dunham says he is "concerned because I want safe buildings in Routt County".  If he were interested in "safety", he would work to facilitate final inspections instead of punishing those who have not reached that point in their project.  Remember,  you get fined if you request a final inspection before your project is ready for final!
 Commissioner Doug Monger states that "Permits can't be open for an infinite amount of time."  According to the county government adopted building code, a permit can be open indefinitely unless, as per section 105.5 of the 2003 IBC, work is not started or work is suspended for over 180 days.  I started my project immediately upon permit issuance and have worked actively on it since, yet they illegally and arbitrarily "expired" it,
 Mr. Dunham stated that he was clearing out "unperformed permits".  Once again, sir, you arbitrarily generalized that all 640 permits you "expired" three months before you bothered to notify us were "unperformed".  Do your research!  But I guess your true intent was generating revenue, not "clearing up financial liabilities on (your) balance sheet"
 In reveiw, the building code already has provisions for "expiring" "unperformed" permits, but has no provisions for "expiring" active, valid permits only for age.  Therefore, this is an illegal action.  As mentioned by another commentor, you cannot apply current codes to permits obtained under a previous code.  Government cannot arbitrarily "expire" all permits without cause.  Government cannot "expire" permits without proper prior notice.  I received notice amost 3 months after the action was taken!
 Routt County government has decided that people cannot build their own houses,  If you want to build your own house, you had better be wealthy enough to hire contractors and subcontractors because it is physically impossible to have a 2000 square foot house ready for final inspection in under three years.
0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.