The neighborhood will be divided into sections geographically and a timetable set for the expected dates of inspection within each section. Most probably, the neighborhood will be divided into 4 sections and each section will be the focus of inspections for three months, with inspections for the whole neighborhood taking one year.
Once this schedule is set, all residents in the neighborhood will be sent a letter informing them of the schedule.
Within the appropriate time frame, the inspector will come to your home to conduct the inspection.
If the inspector has stopped by a couple of times and not found you at home, he will leave a note on the door asking you to call and schedule a time for the inspection. If you are not available during the day, the inspector will work with you to find an evening or weekend time.
During the inspection the inspector will look at the inside and outside of your house, yard, and outbuildings. He may or may not need to look in your attic and basement. He will make notes and take photos of any spots where your property violates a provision of the International Property Maintenance Code.
The building inspector will probably also bring the electrical inspector with him so that your home’s electrical service can be inspected at the same time. There may be occasions, though, that the building inspector will conduct the initial inspection alone, and the electrical inspections will be conducted later.
When he is done–whether he has found one problem or fifty–he will hand you a “Violation Notice” printed on bright yellow paper. He must give you this according to state statute. It states that you must contact the inspections department within 3 days or face penalties. This is a standard form with standard language. The conversation you’ve had as he hands you the notice is sufficient.
(Note, though, that if the inspector has NOT caught you at home and you have NOT called to make an appointment, he will come inspect the outside of you house, buildings, and property and he WILL leave a copy of the notice on your door. If you have NOT talked to the inspector at that point, you will need to call him within the three days.)
The Corrections Notice
Within a week or so, you should receive a written “Corrections Notice” in the mail. It contains an item-by-item list of each way your property violates a provision of the International Property Maintenance Code. There is standard formula language after the list of violations that (1) tells you what your options are, (2) gives you 3 days to contact the inspections, and (3) tells you what penalties can be imposed if you don’t respond.
If you talked to the inspector when you got your violation notice, he may have told you that you don’t need to call within 3 days of receiving the “Corrections Notice.” If you did not talk to the inspector or if you want extra peace of mind, call and let him know that you received the “Corrections Notice” and that you are working on figuring out what needs to be done and how to do it and pay for it (444-8662). The inspector does NOT expect you to have the work done in 3 days. He also knows that it is highly unlikely you will even have the plan and the money to have the work done in 3 days. He will, however, want to know what you’re thinking and how long before he might expect to hear back from you again.
The inspections department does not require that you submit a written plan for how you are going to address the violations. (what you’re going to tackle first, how you’re going to fix it.) However, you will have to have a plan at least in your head. There is a lot of thinking you must do, but you can use the inspector as a resource. There may be only one right way to fix a problem or several good ways to fix it. Talk to the inspector for options and advice about what will be acceptable. If you are hiring someone to do the work, you must make the calls and do the research to find the contractor that is right for you. The inspections department cannot recommend contractors or tell you who to call. However, if you would like to call the inspections department and tell them the name of a contractor you are considering using, they CAN tell you whether they have had good or bad experiences with that contractor.
While the inspector does not require you to have a written plan, having (1) the order of what you’re planning to do; (2) a couple of sentences of how you plan to do it; and (3) a rough timeline of how long you think it will take to do each thing all written out can be very helpful. You can show it to the inspector and get his approval to make sure you are on the same page. It’s a good reminder to you and the inspector of what you said you’d do. If you run into problems or delays, you can just talk with the inspector to work through them.
The planning process may take several weeks. If your plan includes any outside work, you will need to run it by Josh Somers in the City’s Planning Department (444-8690). Any exterior changes to your house must be approved. Some of those changes can be approved by staff. Others must be approved by the Historic Architectural Review Committee (HARC) which meets once a month.
Permits and Follow-up Inspections
Once you have a plan for your property you must come to the Inspections Office on the first floor in City Hall to get a building permit.
Permit Fees are generally waived for homeowners in the Fountain Avenue Revitalization Area.
You must get a permit for all work that is listed on a Corrections Notice. (Even if it’s work like painting that you would not normally need a permit for.)
If you are hiring a general contractor to organize and complete all the work on your house, he will usually purchase the permit. Be sure to discuss this with the contractor.
If you are hiring a contractor for one job (for example, to work on the electrical or the plumbing or to replace a rotted floor), you will need to discuss with them who will obtain the permit. It is your responsibility to make sure that one is gotten. It usually saves you a few dollars to come do it.
Before you come to obtain the permit, you should check with your contractor to make sure that he is licensed and insured. If he is not, you will not be able to get a permit.
When you come to obtain the permit, you will need to bring a copy of the contract(s) you have with contractor(s). The contract(s) will have most of the information the Inspections Department Staff will need to fill out the paperwork. Staff will help you fill out the permit application a give the permit. You should keep the permit in a safe place.
If your home requires electrical work, you should bring the electrician’s CE Number along with the contract. Normally, electrical permits must be obtained along with other permits. However, in the Fountain Avenue area homeowners who are slowly working their way through a rehab can get their electrical permit separately.
If your home requires plumbing work, you or your contractor will have to get your plumbing permit from the Plumbing Inspector. His office is at the McCracken County Health Department. Lynn Bundy, Plumbing Inspector, can be reached at 444-9631 ext. 157.
Homeowners are allowed to complete electrical and plumbing work on the homes where they reside. Any work must be permitted and must be done in a workmanlike manner and pass the standard tests.
To get a permit if you are doing some or all of the work yourself rather than hiring a contractor, you should establish the value of the work you will be doing as best as possible. (You might use a materials list or a contractor’s estimate to help you establish a reasonable value.) If you are doing work yourself, you will also be asked to sign a Worker’s Compensation Affadavit at the Inspections office.
All Property Maintenance Permits are 60 day permits. The inspectors know that some jobs with more work to do may take longer than this period. IF you are staying in contact with the building inspector and getting some work done, this permit period will be automatically extended without you having to come fill out more paperwork.
Once the permit is obtained, work may begin.
Homeowners MUST call the inspector to inspect work-in-progress BEFORE any new work is covered up. This includes new framing, electrical, plumbing, insulation. Discuss this with the inspector AS you begin work so that you both know when you should get in contact.
In general, homeowners should stay in contact with the inspector. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to call the inspector if there are delays or problems; if there are questions; if work is done and ready for inspection.
For homeowners who never contact the inspector and homeowners who repeatedly miss work completion deadlines they themselves have set, fines are possible. IF homeowners are staying in contact with the inspector, it will take several years to get to this point. These homeowners will have warnings and final deadlines before a fine is placed. The fine structure is such that a fine will be at least $1,000.
The inspections department does NOT want to levy fines. They would prefer for you to spend the money on improving your property.