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I am not a contractor – I am a homeowner and I am posting here in hopes of getting some advice.

Long story short we bought our first house less than 2 weeks ago in Los Angeles. We hire a licensed plumber and licensed electrician to come in and do some work for us. Per our instructions, they pulled city permits for any work they are doing which requires permits.

When the city inspector came to finalize the permits our guys had pulled, he wouldn’t finalize the permits and he gave us a notice of correction for kitchen and bath remodel work (on 3 full baths) that the prior homeowner did without permits (we didn’t know – the seller didn’t tell us!).

The city inspector is requiring us to now get the permits for all of that work after the fact. We need to be able to get a loan/refi asap (which we can’t do w/out permits). Plus now that we know there are no permits and it is on file w/ the city we won’t be able to do any of the work we want to do on the house until we correct the notice of correction.

We are in the process of trying to hire a General Contractor to help us through the process of pulling a general remodel permit, exposing the work (i.e opening walls where needed etc) and fixing anything the inspector says may need to be fixed to get it up to code/get permits. We do not meet the requirements to get an owner-builder permit nor are we interested in that as we don’t know anything about contracting/building.

I have spoken to 3 different GCs referred by people I know and trust in the last 2 days and all have turned down the job saying they don’t want to put their name on it!

2 of them suggested we call the city inspectors boss for a meeting with our inspector to try to reason with them that we did not do the work. 1 GC said don’t ever do that as it will just create more problems with the city than we already have.

We were trying to get permits for our own work. We were doing the right thing. We are starting to panic that we won't be able to find a GC to help. We love this house – it took us a year to buy a house in this crazy RE market and we need to fix it. We don't want to bleed money to do so but if the city is requiring us to do so what choice do we have? But it seems we are having trouble finding GC to even take the job. What do we do?
 

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Remodel and New Build GC
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Wow..... I heard of that from some neighbors who had bought a home in Miami.........and as a matter of fact, several years ago, there was a county near us that started attempting that.

It caused a lot of flac.... and seemed to disappear.... don't know if the county just decided it might decimate their RE market or what.

Do you think they are primarily just seeking permit fees. Is that their motivation.

I do not know of code that addresses previously done work.... and whether that is town/municipality controlled or what.

Curious...... How did they know or how can they be certain it was done when...... or just plain obvious.

I'm interested in what you (or we) discover on here.

Good luck
 

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1) Ascertain which previous homeowner did in fact authorize this work. They will be likely responsible for costs since they did not in fact inform you or owners after themselves and prior to you.

2) Find out if the work did in fact require a permit. Depending on the jurisdiction, there is a lot of work that can be done without a permit, including fixture and cabinet replacements, and wholesale repairs.

3) The inspector is not allowed to wander about the house looking for issues and corrections outside a reasonable area in order to do his job. How did he find out about this unpermitted work?

4) The normal flow of inspections is that as tasks are completed, the work is inspected before it is covered by walls, concrete, drywall, ceilings etc. These are called cover inspections, are are meant to ensure that the pipes, wires and structure are built to code and plan.

What do they suggest as a remedy to this situation? If in fact a permit(s) are required, it would be reasonable to buy a permit and get inspected and finaled if you are not required to open any walls. If walls are required to be opened, you need a lawyer to fight it, and to extract blood from the previous owners
 

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JOATMON
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You need to do several parallel paths now.

1. Contact the agent you bought the house through and start the process of failure to disclose (see the excellent reference wingnut gave you)

2. Ask the inspector to come back out...explain that you want to do it right...and see if he will give you a detailed list

3. Your buyer insurance might cover part of the costs.

4. Go to the city and get the permits based on what the inspector told you in step 2. I think you will be surprised at how helpful they will be when they know you want to do it right.

What city are you in?
 

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What was the presumed scope of previous work. Be specific. Were things replaced, or were fixtures and walls wholesale moved with pipes replaced?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Presumed scope for kitchen and baths are: Sinks, toilets, fixtures, retiling, floors, countertops, new cabinets, new appliances, and some repipe upgrades (to copper). But we don't really know for sure. Frankly, just b/c it looks new doesn't mean it all is brand new. My parents have a new construction condo that is 8 years old and looks BRAND new still.
 

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In most jurisdictions new sinks, cabs, toilets, fixtures and floor finishes would not require a permit. And in fact one might be able to argue that the pipe change was in fact a repair and as such does not need a permit.

As we discuss this, the more we indemnify the previous owners and make it likely that the building department is in large part stretching their authority. They need to prove their point, it is not up to you to prove you are innocent
 

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ETA: and probably electrical...adding outlets possibly. He said the outlets "look new" and we need permits for those too.
New could be because they are new receptacles in an existing box. Completely allowed without a permit.

How old is this house, how old are you and how old is the inspector? I assume that you are a female and rather younger, because I can tell you he wouldn't try that to an old goat like me.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
HA! You are very astute. The house was built in 1940s. I am in my mid 30s...inspector is likely in early 40s. Is it a good idea for me to call the inspector and ask for a meeting with his supervisor? Or him and his supervisor to try to resolve this?
 

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New could be because they are new receptacles in an existing box. Completely allowed without a permit.

How old is this house, how old are you and how old is the inspector? I assume that you are a female and rather younger, because I can tell you he wouldn't try that to an old BULL like me.

FIFY






(Don't be calling us goats:no:)


Best
 

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Take your time. The last thing you should do is rush into a meeting on their turf. I actually think the ball is in your court, and they don't have a case that could be won if push came to shove.

If you can afford it, get a lawyer who is aquatinted with these issues. He'll write a demand letter, which they will have to respond to. If it comes out in your favor, you'll end up with a paper trail which will forever absolve you and this house of ever dealing with this particular issue again.
 

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JOATMON
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Los Angeles.
LA is a big area....are you actually in a City of Los Angeles area? Hence, your deal with the LA building and safety?

I would make contacting the real estate office a priority. Because of the disclosure violation, you have a lot of items in your favor. You should be able to get them to cover all the expenses....including the permit costs and any repairs.

Your case is the poster child of why it's important to pull permits. This could be expensive for the PO
 

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LA is a big area....are you actually in a City of Los Angeles area? Hence, your deal with the LA building and safety?

I would make contacting the real estate office a priority. Because of the disclosure violation, you have a lot of items in your favor. You should be able to get them to cover all the expenses....including the permit costs and any repairs.

Your case is the poster child of why it's important to pull permits. This could be expensive for the PO
Only if a permit was in fact required. I think likely a permit was not required, which means fighting it on the OP's dime.

Also at play is what the disclosure form said. If un-permitted work needing permits was disclosed, there is a lot of protection for the PO
 

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Frankly, just b/c it looks new doesn't mean it all is brand new. My parents have a new construction condo that is 8 years old and looks BRAND new still.
Yes, but it doesn't matter when the work was done without a permit. Last year, 10 years ago doesn't make any difference, unless LA has a statute of limitations on it.

It is real easy to look at a 1940's house, particularly one in a subdivision, and know that things have been moved around.

Since all of the bathrooms and the kitchen have been done, I suspect there may have been a flip on it. Whether it was the last owner or some previous owner, is unknown.

A review of the sales record on the property will often show the flip, if one occurred (short period of ownership, large jump in sale price)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
How do I know if a permit was required? The city inspector assigned to us is insistent that permits are needed. In order to challenge this, I would think that we would need to gather the info and then approach his supervisor.
 

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You get to start exploring LA's web site and other documents. I easily found that permits are not required for R&R (remove and replace) of plumbing fixtures (although I can't find the link now). You get to do the rest
 
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