Cat and Mouse

I had three field inspections today, two of them 'finals'. After bothering with making very explicit, specific drawings that convey code-mandated arrangements, two out of three site supers (the mice) took it upon themselves to make significant (layout) changes that contravene the code. Most of these are life safety issues in public buildings.
Now they've forced me (the cat) to spend tomorrow banging out reports saying what they've done and then send it to the municipalities. These spaces are *painted*. The users, in one case, can look forward to prolonged mess and bother as the mice are forced back to make good. The contractors can look forward to lost money and time.
Even worse, one of them, who's ignored the drawings when work was easy and the implications visible, is tomorrow going to ask me to trust that he's done the invisible and difficult things correctly, since they're covered in paint. Problem is that some structural work that should be apparent from outside is missing....Does it still say "idiot" on my forehead? I thought I rubbed that clean.
Last time this happened to me, a few investigatory holes indicated the most blatant attempt to pull a 'fast one', triggered a series of return visits, deficiency lists and incremental compliance, until they finally and grudgingly complied on all points. It went on for months.
I basically would like to like builders, and have a lot of respect for people who make things, so I really resent it when they try to make me out to be 'the bad guy.' The only redeeming moment today was when I found a lovely set of arts-and-crafts-inspired bed linens for sale at one of the sites....one of the sales people told me to come back in a month during the 'family and friends' sale and I could be her 'friend' and save $150 on them... : )
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MichaelB
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It is the same from coast to coast. Spend time with the client and the code, make careful drawings, find the contractor 'knew better'. Worse, the contractor says the client told him to do it and the client claims ignorance. T
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Worse yet, the client *is* the builder, and looks you in the eye and says he won't fix it.
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Yes, I had one recently. City Zoning, Board of Arch Review, & Bldg Department required presentations. Owner / Builder with building permit in hand built something other than the plans. My complaint to the City architect and to Chairman of the BAR resulted in a shrug. T
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Michael Bulatovich wrote:

hmm, sounds like someone wants to get away with less than standards and codes and transfer their liability to you for doing so in the process.
As far as what may have been covered up: Perhaps a simple letter expressing your "concern" over the specific items covered given the lack of the builder's concern over code/standards?

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I avoided it yesterday playing Yosemite Sam, so, one way or another, I'll deal with it today.
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Michael Bulatovich wrote:

I feel for you... I've experienced the same. Of course, now it's your fault for the delay in the project. It's your fault these things are all wrong. Didn't you pull out the tape measure and check this stuff during framing? I just hope there was a liquidated damages clause in the owner-contractor agreement....
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Thankfully, measuring everything is not within the scope of "field review", but so many of these 'guys' are of the 'wise' variety, it makes you shudder to think of all the stunts they get away with....
My wife sums it up pretty well when I whined about 'how my day went':
These types only hire you because they have to. They have to because the government says so. The government says so because they want someone looking out for the public interest, because 'wise guys' all over the world are ready to sacrifice the well-being of others to line their pockets with an extra nickel. The government will yank your ticket if you knowingly let them get away with this sort of thing, yet it's not the government who contracted you in he first place- it's (sometimes) the guy you are expected to police. These guys will move on to another architect if you give them what they think is a rough ride, until they do find someone they can push around. When they do, you will read about it in the disciplinary proceedings at the association....better him than you. Think of these guys as 'one-time' clients.
BTW, our self-run insurer puts out regular cautionary stories about guys who got into trouble and how. They humorously change the names, but tell the stories in good narrative fashion, and they are pretty funny, in a dark sort of way. I should scan and OCR the next one and post it. The writer's pretty good.
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MichaelB
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Just talked to a contractor friend. He told me of a guy who bought two very expensive "lake" properties (more of a cliff down to a channel between two lakes that they can put a dock into). They had surveys done and approved site plans.
The city came out to do a septic system compliance inspection at the end of construction (very typical). Something wasn't right. They started to pull tapes to measure stuff.
The first house was built 17' feet too close to the lake and the 2nd one 18' fee too close to the lake. They completely ignored the approved site plan and built whatever they wanted.
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It's pretty unusual for a bureaucrat to use a tape....Now what? Committee of Adjustment? or does a Conservation Authority have jurisdiction?
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Michael Bulatovich wrote:

Here in "lake country" they are very worried about what goes in the lakes, particularly pollution of different types. Septic systems are one potential source of lake pollution, so they're very careful about these systems.
The "city" isn't one. It's officially chartered by the state...which gives them a mayor and a couple of police to write speeding tickets. They don't have a building department, but do have a P&Z administrator. The P&Z's administrator has the primary job of making sure that buildings are built according to the P&Z rules. They require site plans to be submitted prior to construction. This is to verify that the owner is planning to build within setbacks, the septic system is properly sited and sized, etc. Usually (in this jurisdiction), the only inspection is that the septic system has been correctly installed.
Things get really complicated here... The Department of Natural Resources has jurisdiction over the "water" (beginning at the "ordinary high water mark"). A county or city will then have jurisdiction over the rest of the property. But, what happens if a lake is in two counties? Then what happens when each county has different shoreland zoning rules? You can imagine that land owners get upset when their neighbor down the road (in a different county) gets to do something different (like have a boat house on the shore) and they don't (even though it's on the same lake).
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I built a house in a 'protected watershed' area ( http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Asset1865.aspx ), so I'm familiar with many of the problems you describe...and more. There the water, because it was deemed a 'cold water fishery' was FEDERAL jurisdiction. The watershed was governed by *PROVINCIAL* legislation, and the municipalities were forced to bring their zoning regs into conformance with the provincial legislation. We got in just weeks before the more restrictive zoning would have taken effect. The trees, slopes and wildlife habitat were governed by a regional (COUNTY) conservation authority. They imposed all kinds of spatial and time limits on what could be done, where, and when.
As a result, even though I had to stickhandle through *four* levels of government, we 're way closer to the water than anyone else ever will be in the future. I tried to tell that to a neighbor who later wanted me to do the same for him, but he wouldn't believe me. I didn't get the job, but the (tackier) house went were I told him it would have to go...(Messenger removes arrow from back.)
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MichaelB
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Michael Bulatovich wrote:

We get that kind of stuff occasionally, too. If the client won't pay for a survey before we start, we won't take the job. One county requires that the site plan be submitted on a site drawing created by a licensed surveyor, so that helps us out. The next thing we do is a thorough zoning review because inevitably, the owner wants to do something that's not allowed. We then cite chapter and verse as to why they can't do what they want. They threaten to call the AHJ themselves (which we advise them not to do, but some do anyway). Usually, the come back to us, hat in hand, and the project moves forward. A few times they insist on wasting the time and money to get a variance. When I first started in this area your chances were 50/50 of getting it... usually worth the try. Now, it's about 90/10 against, unless you have a very compelling reason (we had a client be told by the county to raze the building on the property and camp there, as camping is "reasonable" use. The code is written in such a way to remove economics from the equation. It matters not one whit to them if you lose the value of your property to maintain their rules).
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Same here. Always a bad sign.
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