Category Archives: Building Inspector

Unlicensed & Uninsured Building Contractors in Florida

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation often canvases emails to licensed professionals about their efforts to stop unlicensed activity. And, their effort, while not very effective has another big problem? Limited by a lack of funding which results in less enforcement and compliance, they often write about unlicensed activity and what consumers can do to protect themselves, they mention checking the contractor’s license of the person performing the work. They should also inform consumers that the company or person that they are entering into a contract with is the same person or company listed on the license. This is because an unlicensed contractor will have used another contractor’s license to pull the permit. This is illegal and is called aiding and abetting an unlicensed contractor. The DBPR should create a task force to not only educate the consumer but the local building departments as well.

I will give an example of a recent case where I was called because the contractor they hired was given a large amount of money to do a renovation to a condominium in Sunny Isles, Florida and never showed up to do the work. After meeting with the building department to see if a permit was obtained, sure enough; it wasn’t. To make things worse, when the lady at the counter asked the name of the contractor (American Contractors) she laughed and mentioned that she has herd of other cases in nearby buildings Oveanview Condominiums 1, 2 & 3, Park West & The Hemisphere Condominiums. This contractor was referred by a friend that lived in a condominium in Aventura, FL. I asked to see the contract and it stated “American Contractors” “Licensed and Insured” and it appeared to be hand written on a 2 part invoice and a scribbled signature that I could not make sense of.

The point of this blog is to make you aware of what to look for, let’s start with a few easy ones:
1. The proposal has to be typed on letter head bearing a physical license number.
2. Clearly states the name of the license holder
3. In my contracts, I always include a copy of my license and insurance. (This makes it easier to look-up the information i.e. license verification.
4. A construction schedule, preferably a Gantt Chart. If the contractor does not have a schedule or just throws out a date. Chances are, there is none?
Construction is no longer about the fancy truck or tool belt; we have subcontractors for this. It’s about management and complying with the technical aspects of construction. With the increased amount of codes being added every year; your contractor should be familiar with them. Because let’s face it – Building Inspectors are and will demand that not only the plans are being followed but the building codes as well.
Finally, if your contractor is not licensed then he is uninsured and if you signed a contract with a contractor that is using someone else’s license; it will be very hard to get your job done without costly delays.

Please post your comments, share & colaborate with others; GET INFORMED.

www.scavuzzoassoc.com

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Filed under Building Inspector, General Construction, Renovations

Fire Departments in the Building Violation Business?

Whether it’s a mezzanine or a missing extinguisher, Fire Departments around the country are on the hunt for building and code violations and they have added a built in feature; getting you to pay daily fines. Try to fight them? Not even a chance! With highly skilled and trained enforcement officers, most such as the Metro-Dade Fire Department are working hand-in-hand with the Neighborhood Code Compliance Office’s that has been recently revamped by Mr. Charlie Danger and these guys know exactly what to look for. Hiring a well-qualified Architect / Contractors office to mediate these infractions is probably the only and best defense to combat these inspectors because they will cite everything down to the old coffee machine that is plugged into a burned electrical wall outlet.

My partner and I spend countless hours at building departments trying to negotiate a reasonable and realistic settlements for our clients. Sounds easy? Well, not even close, especially, when they are trying to throw everything but the kitchen sink at you. They are trained to make you weak. And you say, “Is this the government agency and what we pay taxes for?” Well, the best answer is yes. Property taxes alone are not enough to pay the bills; commercial businesses have become the target for additional revenue to pay for the county’s earmarks (i.e. the baseball stadiums and waterparks, etc…).

The internal additive is, the bigger the violation the harder it is to satisfy within the allotted time given. This is where negotiating a reasonable settlement is the best way to meet the deadline. For instance, I will give an example of a simple small warehouse with an illegal mezzanine. The citation will read, “The mezzanine has to be removed, unsafe structure Florida Building Code; blah,blah” First thoughts are: “how about my offices below? That mezzanine has been there for 20 years! And, you’re only giving me how long to correct this”? Yes, and don’t forget, your displaced employees, loss of business and stress. Then you think, I’ll just talk to the inspector and see if I can sweet talk him or paperclip the 20 to the back of the driver’s license trick or I will file a complaint because the inspector was nasty to my employee. Folks, It does not work!

Remember, you are at the disadvantage and these inspectors will not chance losing their paycheck in this economy for you. And yes, unlike us, they get a paycheck once a week and your new founded problem is not their problem or even a hardship. Sounds harsh, but it’s true and as you can see, my job is not as easy as you would think but I do make my client problems my own and I immediately take ownership of the situation, meeting with the inspectors, drawing the plans and finally, getting our construction crew on site to ratify these issues so you can get back to work. I’m with you every step of the way; not a project manager.
Recently, I have met with condo association boards and it amazes me that Bob the cabinet maker that has been cited for building shelves that extend to the top of the warehouse, flammable glues that can set the entire building on fire and, Oh yes, not even one fire extinguisher in the entire facility. You know, the guy that does not even speak at the normal meetings or a simple hello while passing buy is the new leader of a complex that is riddled with code compliance issues and of course he knows the code and the first suggestion is: “Let’s sue the County, they can’t do this” After listening to this guy ramble for 20 minutes or so, I will ask, “What is your premise” Of course that went over his head but he is mad and wants justice.

Be careful with the Bob’s in your association that is ready to spend association funds to sue a county. And yes, it is ridiculous because cities and counties have attorneys too and will spend your tax dollars hiring other top law firms to defend them. The only thing an association can do legally together is, to hire an attorney to make sure your problem does not become theirs and as far as you hiring an attorney to sue? They will settle every time, unless of course, you have a lot of money to defend a case, in court, with a non-winning cast to prove a point. I cut through all of this aggravation and hone in one the resolution of the problem.
My name is Marc, my clients know me as the Fireman of Construction; I put out fires.
the kitchen sink at you. They are will trained to make you weak. And you say, “Is this government that I pay for?” Well, the best answer is yes. Property taxes alone do not pay the bills; commercial businesses have become the target for additional revenue to pay for the county’s earmarks (i.e. the baseball stadiums and waterparks).

The internal additive is, the bigger the violation the harder it is to satisfy within the allotted time. This is where negotiating a reasonable settlement is the best way to meet the deadline. For instance, I will give an example of a simple small warehouse with an illegal mezzanine. The citation will read, “The mezzanine has to be removed, unsafe structure Florida Building Code blah,blah” First thoughts are: “how about my offices below? That mezzanine has been there for 20 years! And, you’re only giving me how long to correct this”? Yes, and don’t forget, your displaced employees, loss of revenue and stress. Well, remember; these inspectors get a paycheck every week and your new problems are not a hardship.
As you can see my job is not as easy as you would think but I do make my client problems my own and I immediately take ownership of the situation, meet with the inspectors, draw the plans and get our construction crew on site to ratify these issues so you can get back to work.

Recently, I have met with condo association boards and it amazes me that Bob the cabinet maker that has been cited for building shelves that extend to the top of the warehouse, flammable glues that can set the entire building on fire and, Oh yes, not even one fire extinguisher in the entire facility. You know, the guy that does not even speak at the normal meetings or a simple hello while passing buy is the new leader of a complex that is riddled with code compliance issues and of course he knows the code and the first suggestion is: “Let’s sue the County, they can’t do this” After listening to this guy ramble for 20 minutes or so, I will ask, “What is your premise” Of course that went over his head but he is mad and wants justice.

Be careful with the Bob’s in your association that is ready to spend association funds to sue a county. And yes, it is ridiculous because cities and counties have attorneys too and will spend your tax dollars hiring other top law firms to defend them. The only thing an association can do legally together is, to hire an attorney to make sure your problem does not become theirs and as far as you hiring an attorney to sue? They will settle every time, unless of course, you have a lot of money to defend a case, in court, with a non-winning cast to prove a point. I cut through all of this aggravation and hone in one the resolution of the problem.

Our name is Marc & Mike Scavuzzo we are here to help and our clients know us as the Fireman of Construction; We put out fires.

Scavuzzo & Associates P.A., Marc Scavuzzo CGC 1515090, Michael A. Scavuzzo RA 00004956

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Filed under Building Inspector, Building Violations, General Construction

Building Inspector: Friend or Foe?

It is late morning and you are wondering where your building inspector is? You certainly know where he isn’t; he isn’t approving the most recent work so that you can move on with your project. Your inspection was scheduled for first thing in the morning and the inspector finally shows up near the end of the day. On the one hand you want to yell, scream and complain; on the other hand you know that you need him to sign off on the work so that you can proceed. Outwardly you are respectful and cordial; inside you are seething and thinking, “Next time I’m doing this without permits!”

Do I Really Need Permits?

It’s very tempting to do renovations without pulling permits. It may appear that you will save time, money and a big hassle, but at what cost? The primary reason that municipalities require permits is so that they can be sure that work is performed to acceptable standards and that it meets all building codes. The codes are created to set minimum standards for safety and appearance. These standards give home buyers a reasonable level of assurance that a home is safe for them to live in.
A lot of cosmetic work can be done without permits. Installing new carpets, painting and landscape changes normally do not require any kind of approval. However, major renovations involving plumbing, electric, foundations, extensions etc. always will. A good starting point is your local building department if you have not retained the services of an Architect or General Contractor, they can give you a wealth of information on what the requirements are. When in doubt, give them a call. They are there to help.

So Called Professional that works without Permits!

When working with contractors you need to be careful. If they tell you that they don’t need permits to do the project you should check to be sure. It could be that they are unlicensed or they may be looking to cut corners. Be especially wary if they say that you can save money by not pulling permits, you may end up paying a lot more in the end.

Construction worker

The building inspector will check a contractor’s work to be sure that it is up to par. If the work is shoddy it will fail inspection. This is a case where an inspector can save you a lot of trouble. If the work fails inspection the contractor will have to make it right and they should be the ones bearing the cost for any corrections that need to be made.

County vs. Municipality

When working with a building department in a large city you a probably dealing with a bureaucracy and may not see the same inspector twice. In a small town, you will most likely deal with the same inspector for multiple inspections. I personally like dealing with small cities, this gives the inspector a chance to create familiarity with your construction project. Furthermore, you will need to adapt to the local conditions of your building department. In a large city you want to develop a good reputation so that inspectors know that you are easy to deal with. In a small town you need to make the inspector your friend. Making an enemy of a small town inspector can be the kiss of death.

Permits, inspectors and inspections can be a big hassle. However, in the long haul, they may save you a lot of grief.

Marc Scavuzzo, M.A., Assoc. A.I.A., CGC, LEED AP of Scavuzzo & Associates P.A., Architectural, Engineering and Construction Services

We offer FREE Construction Planning. Give us a call at 305-776-8921 and/or ask for references or visit our company website www.scavuzzoassoc.com

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Filed under Building Inspector