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.
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...
State Code is clear about the paper work to be completed by an inspector:
1. A record shall be made of each visit to a site, each inspection
type performed and the pass or fail results of each inspection.
2. Approved plans shall be retained for 4 years after completion
of the dwelling.
3. Applications forms, correction orders, correspondence and
inspection records shall be maintained for 7 years after completion
of the dwelling.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
The inspector should have been hung and would of if the plaintiff's witnesses would have been allowed to take the stand.
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.
Email me at email@example.com with questions.