Code Violations - Do they matter?

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babyblue65bird
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Code Violations - Do they matter?

Postby babyblue65bird » Thu Mar 20, 2008 6:48 pm

I'm looking at a property in LA that has had a copper repipe. It is slab construction, and open beam ceilings so the repipe people ran the pipes on the outside of the exterior walls, punching through the walls wherever they needed to, to get the pipes into the fixtures inside. It's a sloppy job, and the pipes aren't attached to the walls for several long spans.

Part of me feels that if a pipe breaks it's better for it to be outside in the first place; but I really wonder about this being up to code, and what ramifications there are if it is not. It's an auction property so there is no repairing to be done on the part of the seller, it's all me. Does this only become a problem down the road when I eventually try to sell the place, or could I get red-tagged if a city inspector comes along to inspect some other improvement I make that I get a permit for?
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Postby 5280mod » Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:03 pm

First, go to the building department and find out if a permit was pulled to do this work. If it was and the building inspector signed off on the work then you're good.

If not, you're already there, so ask your question to a building dept employee.

It will most likely be an issue when you decide to sell, and you may be required to have the work redone to code. Mortgage companies are even stepping in more frequently these days with inspections of their own...so even if you have a buyer who doesn't care, the lender will.

Also check with your home insurance provider and make sure you can get affordable coverage.
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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:22 pm

Assuming you were to purchase the house, wouldn't adding support clips/brackets at appropriate places be a simple do-it-yourself job (assuming that's the only deficiency), surely not itself a job requiring a permit and surely a way to get closer to compliance AND enhancing the security of your property ? Or am I missing your point ?

SDR

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Postby babyblue65bird » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:27 pm

I guess my real worry is exactly what 5280mod brought up: That my mortage lender will send their own inspector and screw up my financing after I've already put a non-refundable deposit down on the auction purchase. Meaning I'm either out the dough to do the repair up to code and have it inspected (all in time to close escrow), or lose my deposit (devastating).

I guess I'll be first in line at the building dept on Monday morning!
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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 21, 2008 1:28 pm

Ah -- I got it. Yes, you'd best do that !

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Postby Tony » Fri Mar 21, 2008 2:45 pm

And it's always best to get a home inspection! Who knows what else might be wrong?

Remember that while buying at auction may save you a considerable sum of money, there is risk involved. The bank is in a position where they can sell the property "as is", whereas a conventional seller must disclose defects.

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Stephen
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Postby Stephen » Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:10 pm

I'll throw in my $0.02 here since I have a bit more information about the property and situation in question.

To me, more important than the legal ramifications are the more obvious ones. Shoddy work is shoddy work and will lower the value when you sell, regardless of whether it's a permit issue or not. In this case my recommendation to the future owner would be to do it right at their earliest convenience. I don't think it's an immediate safety threat, but it's not done right given the plans I'm sure Soft Supply has, redoing this aspect would be necessary to be consistent with the planned condition of the house.

Last time I checked, running copper plumbing on the outside of the building *is not* compliant with code. However, a trip to the building department now (without proper care taken) could put the potential buyer in a position of being forced to fix it immediately (instead of over the next 12 months) and could also result in fines. Since I'm almost certain this is not done to code (and regardless of its code status, it wouldn't be acceptable to me, personally) I think the best course of action is to employ a home inspector or licensed plumber to inspect the overall quality of the repipe and assess its safety and workmanship. I would not start at the building department.

As for the mortgage lender aspect. Mortgage lenders do not require contractor or home inspections *UNLESS* something in the appraisal tips them off. The reason for this is simple, the second a lender begins to look at condition and code-compliance they open themselves up to liability (ie: if the lender signs off on a home inspection and something major comes up, the homeowner could sue the lender for giving it the thumbs up). Here are the common things that make lenders rule a property as "unacceptable collateral:"

- Broken glass
- Missing fixtures (ie: no kitchen, missing bathroom fixtures, etc)
- Missing flooring
- Missing drywall
- Big cracks in anything
- Any type of fire / smoke damage
- Visible mold
- Evidence of significant water damage
- Anything that even remotely seems structural
- Cracks in the ground on a hillside property
- "Section 1" Termite / Pest report items (they must be fixed prior to escrow closure)

Many times if the items are minor they will simply require the items be corrected prior to the close of escrow. Unless it looks like it's falling over, they don't care whether you got a permit for your patio cover or replacement vinyl windows. In this particular situation, I've already contacted an appraiser to get his opinion on whether he would feel the need to photograph and/or mention exterior copper piping in an appraisal. Note, it *is not* within the appraiser's charge to determine code-compliance. But most will check on permits for an addition (see below).

Caveat number one, for anybody still reading. If it concerns unpermitted living space (ie: additions, garage conversion) the lender will still lend on the property, but they will only accept an appraisal based on the permitted square footage / number of bedrooms-bathrooms.

Caveat number two...many cities are requiring occupancy inspections upon the sale of a property. If that is the case, the door is wide open for the presiding building department to require just about anything. You can still sell / buy property without compliance, but the city will withhold an occupancy permit. So it could be not an issue now but possibly an issue down the line if it isn't corrected before a subsequent sale.

Cliff Notes: Every situation is different. It pays to contact the people whom an issue will affect (lender, plumbing contractor, Realtor, etc).
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Postby Tony » Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:51 pm

Thanks Stephen! Great advice.

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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:52 pm

The above post demonstrates that faultless and credible writing has not gone entirely out of style.

Youth of today, kindly note.




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Postby Tony » Fri Mar 21, 2008 5:57 pm

Thanks SDR! Or did you refer to Stephen? Ha!

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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:00 pm

Sorry, Tony. No flies on your four words either, of course. . .



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Postby Stephen » Fri Mar 21, 2008 6:44 pm

Stephen Meade

SoCal Realtor - DRE 01378749

Pacific West Assoc. of Realtors President-Elect

http://www.OCModHomes.com

http://www.CliffMaySocal.com

and

Cliff May Homeowner

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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:56 pm

Beautiful; can I copy that ?

Here's a message I got from a fellow poster at another site last week, after publicly correcting his use of its vs. i'ts , and claiming Apostrophe Police authority:

It was a dark and stormy night when the burly, rumple suited man rapped his flacid knuckles on the frosted glass pane of the low-e insulating glass, aluminum framed slider. The impact sent sharp echoes down the canyon, heard only when the near constant thunder ebbed. A sleepy figure slid open the door on whisper quiet titanium bearings.

Homeowner: "Hey, do you know what time it is?"

Detective: "Yeh, I know. Apostrophe Police!"

Homeowner: "May I see your badge?"

Dectective: Laughing and spitting out his words. "Badges, we don't need no stinkin' badges."

Homeowner: "Somebody ratted me out, huh."

Detective: "You guys never get away with it for long. You look like a bright boy, you should know better."

Homeowner: "Listen it's not me you want, it's, it's my teachers. That's it, the system. Public school, you know. Go after them."

Dectective: "Can't, statue of limitations."

Homeowner: "Don't you mean statute?"

Detective: "Whatever!"

Homeowner: "Listen, let me call somebody. My proofreader. That's it, I need to call my proofreader. He'll get me out of this."

Detective: "It's too late for that. Listen, I gotta read ya yer rights. Gotta get goin. There's plenty more perps out there and not enough time. All right, now where's that card. You have the right not to punctuate, but if you do choose to punctuate mistakes may be used against you in a court of law."

(fade to black)


Pretty creative, huh ? Guess I asked for it !

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Postby Futura Girl » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:02 pm


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Re: Code Violations - Do they matter?

Postby fillmore » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:06 pm


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SDR
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Postby SDR » Fri Mar 21, 2008 9:42 pm

FG, I think I advised looking at *hers* and *yours* to get *its* and differentiate it from *it's* (it is).



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Tony
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Postby Tony » Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:19 am

Stephen,

I wouldn't be worried about the building department. They don't care why someone is looking at the permits - it won't raise any red flag. Obviously, though, one wouldn't say "I want to look at the permits for this house to see if the repiping was done with permits". Just look and see. And you never know what you might find in the permits!

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Postby SDR » Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:01 am

As an East-coaster, it was amusing to me to find in San Francisco, many older residential buildings in the city with their waste plumbing (cast iron) on the outside of a side or rear wall. Shades of Richard Rogers et al. Can't do that where it freezes. . .!

SDR
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Stephen
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Postby Stephen » Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:20 am

Stephen Meade

SoCal Realtor - DRE 01378749

Pacific West Assoc. of Realtors President-Elect

http://www.OCModHomes.com

http://www.CliffMaySocal.com

and

Cliff May Homeowner

fillmore
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Postby fillmore » Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:18 am


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Postby Tony » Sat Mar 22, 2008 6:38 pm

As someone once said "just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean someone isn't after you".

That being said, I've never had a single instance when a building department person expressed any interest in why I was looking at a permit. I've looked at hundreds, if not a thousand permits. In Los Angeles, Glendale, Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and probably other cities I have forgotten. Only in California, of course. In all these cities the person pulling the permit file isn't an enforcement officer. They don't care what you are doing looking at the permit. I just say "research" and they just shrug.

I really want to encourage people to look at permits, boring as though it may be. In the present case, where it's a "as-is" auction, it's just due-diligance. Examining the permits and performing an inspection are about the only tools you have to get any idea what you are in for.

Tony
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