06/11/2011

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Contractor and Building Inspector on Trial. Rules of Evidence Won.... Been a week now and I want to share an 11 hour hearing I sat through. I was to witness but the defendant's lawyer wouldn't let me on the stand. The Plaintiff had fired their lawyer after over $8grand in charges and them trying to settle oput of court for 1/4 of what the owner ended up getting acting pro se, so I had not been put on the witness list as neither had a couple of Township employees and another inspector. Rules of evidence trumped the truth.<br /> The outcome is interesting in that the contractor had a judgement of $20grand against him for his poor workmanship. The original bid was for $18grand. The Code related items didn't even enter into that judgement. Defendant #2 got off scott free because the plaintiff, acting as his own attorney, pro se, could not call witnesses to the stand. The inspector, defendant #2, admitted to not doing the inspection. Inspection reports he had done for other phases of construction were a joke. They weren't even dated and simply had the Owner's name, permit number, his name and "OK" written on them. He found absolutely no Code violations, not even petty stuff. He clearly stated on the stand under questioning from the owner/plaintiff that the reports were not dated or filled out...<br /> State Code is clear about the paper work to be completed by an inspector:<br /> <em>1. A record shall be made of each visit to a site, each inspection</em><br /><em> type performed and the pass or fail results of each inspection.</em><br /><em> 2. Approved plans shall be retained for 4 years after completion</em><br /><em> of the dwelling.</em><br /><em> 3. Applications forms, correction orders, correspondence and</em><br /><em> inspection records shall be maintained for 7 years after completion</em><br /><em> of the dwelling.</em><br /> The municipality had no, none, zilch records from their inspector.... but he got off because of rules of evidence. Even though he freely admitted to not doing the inspection where all the violations and sloppy work happened AND he admitted to having another full time job an 1 1/2 hour drive one way away it made no difference to the judge.<br /> The inspector charged $690 for the inspections, did not do a plan review where he should have caught the Code violations on the plans and claims he never was called for the inspection even though the owner testified he had called.<br /> Well as an inspector, had I not been called and was later called to do an inspection of another phase of construction before the previous work had been covered I would have inspected it even if I had not been called. Furthermore an inspection previous to the one that never got done would have clearly shown there was a problem waiting to happen! THE FOOTINGS WERE NOT WIDE ENOUGH FOR A FOUNDATION WALL OF THE PROPER THICKNESS ! The inspector that got off should have noted that while inspecting the footings instead of just writing "OK".<br /> The above mentioned case points out one of the biggest problems with some building inspectors. They either don't know Code or don't have the balls to enforce it. The inspector / defendant never filed records with the municipality and it took the complaints of a citizen of that municipality and an inspector to get the guy fired. He was not doing inspections, he was building his retirement account and doing appeasement.<br /> That inspector still works for several other municipalities where he serves as good ole' boy and the Father's of those municipalities like him because he's a people person. ACTUALLY HE ALLOWS BUILDERS TO SLIDE CRAP BY HOME OWNERS and the municipalities don't know the difference or don't care.<br /> <br /> So how did he get caught in the above case? The home owner is a HVAC contractor that knows a few things about other phases of construction.<br /> What is a regular home owner to do? Well with this same inspector in another municipality the home owner ended up selling her home back to the builder because it was so riddled with problems.<br /> The inspector should have been hung and would of if the plaintiff's witnesses would have been allowed to take the stand.<br /> So if you are going to hire a lawyer check them out ahead of time and direct their efforts. Make them see it through to the end and make sure they don't try to cut a deal with the opposing party.<br /> Email me at codeguy@integrity.com with questions.
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What the Guy From State Has to Say LET ME SAY THAT THE ANSWERS THAT THE REPLY CAME WITH WHERE IN <strong>RED</strong>, In transferring them to this blog the red color is lost but you can still find them easily enough..... personal info has been X'd out to keep this blog one of not pointing the finger but rather one where others can learn from other's mistakes.<br /> _________________________________________________ READY?<br /> <br /> Answers inserted below in <strong>red</strong>. I hope the owner at least considers complaint against the inspector's license. Open records violation lawsuits can win some $ too, but as you are both residents of that township, you would be picking your neighbor's pockets on that, so it is up to you on pursuit of that.<br /> <br /> --------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br /> From: XXXXXX [mailto:codeguy@integrity.com]<br /> Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 10:11 AM<br /> To: XXXXXXXXX- COMMERCE<br /> Subject: Doing this for the home owner.<br /> <br /> Hello Mr. XXXXXX,<br /> On Wednesday and Thursday I sat through 11 hours of hearings. The owner wanted to put me on the stand, along with the Town Clerk and another inspector but the lawyer for an inspector would not let the owner do it..... rules of evidence. The Owner had fired their attorney after $8grand+ in fees. A legal mess.<br /> <br /> Questions for you and then I'll let you know the outcome.<br /> Dwelling was built in 20XX.<br /> If an inspector does a plan review and there is a walk out basement and an attached garage, do you think he should know there would be "jumps" in the footings, differences in elevations? Just from looking at the plan and elevation drawings even if the foundation plan did not show those "jumps". <strong>If the plans were properly prepared, then per Comm 20.09(4)(a)3. of that code in 20XX should have "...exterior grade, footings and foundation walls..." shown. Thus if "footings" are properly indicated on the elevation plans, then yes those jumps should clearly be shown on that plan set approved, even without correct notation on foundation floor plans.</strong><br /> <br /> IF an inspector claims he was never called for a foundation inspection but later came out and looked at below floor plumbing to be under the basement slab before the foundation was backfilled do you think the inspector should have noted something on an inspection report about foundation issues at that time? or that he wasn't called, so he claimed even though the contractor and home owner testified they did call him..... <strong>As the 2004 UDC Commentary states on page 2004-20-57 that "Depending on construction, it is possible that the footings &amp; foundation could be inspected along with the rough inspections discussed below." And then the next paragraph is on rough inspection and begins with "The important principal to remember is that all work must be inspected prior to concealment." Thus yes he should.</strong><br /> <br /> Inspection reports were never received by the municipality. Those produced at the trial had no date. Inspector on stand clearly said they weren't dated after being shown each one. No papers for foundation and drain tile inspection. Others had owner's name, "OK", signature of inspector and a box or two checked for type of inspection. Would you say that is diligently doing the job? He never found a single violation and never noted not being called for the foundation inspection... <strong>NO!!</strong><br /> <br /> The horizontal distance between footings at a "jump" was eight feet per Cooper engineering. Should the inspector have noted this during footing inspection and inquired about how that "lintel" would be incorporated into that section of foundation wall and ask for how it was going to be reinforced? <strong>It should not have been ignored entirely on plan review and inspection, clearly some where it should have been clarified to show code compliance.</strong><br /> <br /> Smooth talking lawyer objected to Cooper's Eng fix and judge sustained the objection ........... I about died...<br /> <br /> Does ACI 318 (Comm 20.24) apply to such a long lintel as mentioned above or can it just be done by "experience" of the concrete guy who didn't know what a lintel was in his deposition? <strong>As the code has no prescriptive design stated for that, yes ACI 318 standard should have been utilized.</strong><br /> <br /> No conditions of approval were given the permit applicant. The inspector came to get the permit application and filled out the Permit card and took the check. The Town or inspector do not have a copy of the plans. Is this negligence of the Code, a Code violation, if you will, done by those who are to enforce the Code? <strong>Since Comm 20.10(3) was added to the UDC in April of 2007, that is clearly a code violation, as well as Statute 19 violation of the open records law. Comm 5.10(1)(a)3. and 5.003(32) related codes would also be applicable to the inspector.</strong><br /> <br /> Inspector testified as to working another job 40 hours a week, 1 1/2 hours from his home that summer.<br /> <br /> It was an interesting two days.<br /> <br /> Much more but there was a $20grand judgement against the concrete guy, the original quote he gave was under that amount, he had been paid cause he filed a lien and the owner had to get the lien removed to get long term financing. The inspector (with Mr. Smooth Talking Lawyer) was found not to be negligent and the homeowner is to pay the inspector's lawyer's fees (three "expert witnesses" there most the time and about $9 grand in previous charges)<br /> <br /> One of those expert witnesses built 1500 homes in 6 years in the Eau Claire area and only had one issue with an inspector and that was about setbacks. (Do the math, that is a home a working day). I caught up with him out in the hall and reintroduced myself and reminded him of a home he built in the Town of Howard three years ago........ But the judge in his disertation of the facts and findings before his ruling at the end of the case quoted this expert witness and the number of homes he had built....no they are not manufactured, they are all site built.....<br /> <br /> So what do you think about the inspector? <strong>Comm 5.10(1)(a)3. and 5.003(32) related codes would also be applicable to the inspector.</strong><br /> More "fun" stuff.<br /> One of the expert witnesses drew a sketch on the white board of the footing and foundation showing a keyway. The home owner questioned the keyway and pointed out there was none and the concrete guy agreed and finally asked Mr. Peterson P.E. (is the E for expert) ....... he never saw the footings.......<br /> The other P.Expert testified on the first morning that the lintel should have been designed by ACI 318 as should the other three which also cracked but in the afternoon he fell in line when put back on the stand to : "they are shrinkage cracks" and "performing to industry standards".... I'm sure you know this P.E. out of Rice Lake, he even said in the morning he'd charge $500 for those designs. First name was Bob (Robert) S ..<br /> <br /> So do you think the inspector did his job? <strong>No. </strong>Was he negligent? <strong>Yes.</strong> Did he do any violations of Code Comm 20.09 and 20.10 ? <strong>Many.</strong><br /> <br /> The home owner is kind of in shock but I plan on forwarding your answer to him.<br /> <br /> The concrete contractor probably will never pay as I don't thnk he has much more than I or a pot and a window to throw it out off..... when asked about BCR he still doesn't have it and knew nothing about it even after the owner explained it to him, he said concrete guys don't need it.... The owner, by the way, is a HVAC contractor.<br /> <br /> Please let me know your "legal" position on the inspector. Maybe I've been driving and writing too much these years... "OK" and my name would not only save ink but inspection report forms too.. <strong>Even though it may get assigned to me, and I do not need more work to do, I hope someone or multiple people file complaints against this inspector's license causing an investigation of him; so that some people will get better dwellings and some judges will learn that not all inspectors are above the law [and that he can continue his full time job elsewhere &amp; stop being a poor excuse for a building inspector - giving us all a bad name].</strong><br /> <br /> XXXXXX XXXXXXX<br /> <br /> The guy that did the framing saved the day and what saving could be done for the home owner. Excellent on the stand describing the foundation problems. Owner did not "prove" to the judge the inspector wasn't doing his job.... That Township fired him in early 20XX.

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