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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012

    Default Building Permit Final Inspection

    My question involves property law issue in the State of: California

    I purchased a home in 2001 The house was built around 1970. At this time I called the building department inquiring about the status of building permits pulled for the house. When I called, they looked into the permits and I was told that the house was in compliance. A year ago I had a contractor re roof the house. He did not pull a permit and the building department placed a red tag on the house. I promptly called the building department inquiring about what is going on. At this time the building department looked into a file for my house and I was told that the roofer did not get a permit and that the house was never finaled. I have since contacted the CSLB regarding the roofer not getting a permit. CSLB told the roofer to get a permit and he tried to but was told by the building department that the house must be finaled before he can get a permit.

    My question is: Is there some sort of statute of limitations that the building department has to enforce building permit requirements for work done? It has been over 40 years since the house was built and building codes have changed.

    On a second part of this situation, I have contacted my real estate agent about this to get her advice. She has notes that I did call the building department and was told that the property was in compliance. She also told me that around 1995 the building department sent a letter to property owners stating something like, if you want copies of building permits let us know ASAP, we will be throwing away records.

    My question here is: Does the building department have the obligation to store records indefinitely or is it the property owner's responsibility to prove that a building permit was pulled for construction indefinitely? Also, if the building department did throw records, it is very possible that records relating to my building final in the 70s was lost. What should I do to clear up this matter and have my house in compliance, like I was told it was when I purchased the home?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Building Permit Final Inspection

    If the house never received a certificate of occupancy, then it never received a certificate of occupancy. The passage of time won't change that fact.

    What you may or may not be able to prove in relation to the maintenance, completeness or accuracy of past records is not something I answer for you. They are not required to hold their records forever but, that aside, I doubt that the records covered by the 1995 letter relate to such basic issues as certificates of occupancy. If you want to know what records were purged in 1995, I suggest calling the building department and asking.

    Once you know what records are and are not available, you can examine the records that are available to see what you can find. If it turns out that all required inspections were completed but that the city failed for some reason to issue the certificate of occupancy, you should be able to compel the issuance (through a lawyer and court, if necessary); if you find that a certificate of occupancy was issued but is not reflected in the files, you may be able to get the matter resolved based upon that information. If the records turn out to be incomplete because of the purge, you can see what resolution the building department offers; if it's not adequate you can consider litigation. If the problem is that the builder neglected to arrange proper inspections and thus never qualified for a certificate of occupancy, I suggest working with a real estate lawyer to discuss your options and possible remedies.

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