Building Permits

Hi,
Silly question perhaps... but would like input and opinions.
-    I had renovations done last summer to my bathrooms. The original contractor was let go after it became apparent that he was over his head in terms of proper finishing. He has since gone bankrupt. -    We got a permit from the town I live in (Suburb of Montreal). We provided a rough description and a crude drawing where partitions were going to be going in our bathroom downstairs. We received the permit with no further questions.
Consequently, it was discovered after a sewer backup that the plumbing that was done by the contractor that was let go, did not meet spec.
I can bore you with many more sad details and might if you want but here is the essential question.
I now realize that we could have possibly avoided this plumbing problem if the person at the town who issued us the permit had told us that we could have the towns inspector come and approve or question certain procedures at certain stages (electricity before putting up the walls, plumbing before cementing the floor etc). I was not aware of this at all.
Question:
Is it the towns responsibility to inform home owners that we had the right to call in their inspectors at certain stages in construction, or does the responsibly solely lie with homeowner to know these things ? Do I have a case, to and proceed to sue the city for neglecting to give us this critical information, or am I guilty of being ignorant ?
Thousands of dollars must now be spent to rectify the situation, that in my opinion could have been avoided.
Thanks.
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qcan wrote the following:

I don't know about Canada or Montreal permits, but where I live, after submitting the plans to the building department, the inspector must check the construction at various stages of the construction, which are indicated to the contractor. All construction, or alterations to that part of the construction, must stop until the inspector approves that part of the construction (i.e. no concrete can be poured until the inspector checks that the proper rebar is installed) The only requirement of the contractor is to notify the inspector that that part has been completed and is waiting approval of the building department before construction can be continued.. Of course, other parts of the construction can continue until that those parts need inspection.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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On 5/24/2011 12:56 AM, qcan wrote:

So you didn't do a proper references and qualifications check on the contractor--was he simply the one who bid the lowest amount? And did he tell you to go get the building permit (perhaps saying "It will be cheaper that way...")?

The imparative here is that 'could' is not the right word word, but 'must'. That is you must schedule work in progress inspections according to the local's rules and procedures. The responsibility is yours, not theirs.

If you didn't know what you were doing, why did you get involved? You should have required the contractor do the permits, and have him take the responsibility for the resulting mess.

No, it is not. If you are competent enough to get your building permit yourself, you are competent enough to know it.

"Right"? Not right, but responsibility. Inspections are required a definite stages in all construction projects.

Yes, you are responsible. Unless you live in a nanny state (which much of Canada qualifies for now) and in that case you should not have been even allowed to apply for the permit anyway.

No, you do not have a case.

The latter. (sorry.)

You walked into this mess 'eyes open', selected the contractor (they didn't force him on you), didn't do your homework to check the contractor's competence, and are now paying the price of not doing what any reasonable person would have done.
The *only* case you have is against the original contractor, though you are unlikely to get anything out of that except for satisfaction.

Any time. When you (the homeowner) pulls the permit, they are responsible. The act of pulling the permit indicates responsibility. Had you let the contractor pull the permit, they would have been responsible. But the building inspector (or whoever you were dealing with) has no responsibility to hold you hand and treat you like a child.
Not silly questions IMHO, quite valid. However you are responsible, both legally and morally. Such is life...
--
I'm never going to grow up.

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Silly question perhaps... but would like input and opinions.
- I had renovations done last summer to my bathrooms. The original contractor was let go after it became apparent that he was over his head in terms of proper finishing. He has since gone bankrupt. - We got a permit from the town I live in (Suburb of Montreal). We provided a rough description and a crude drawing where partitions were going to be going in our bathroom downstairs. We received the permit with no further questions.
Consequently, it was discovered after a sewer backup that the plumbing that was done by the contractor that was let go, did not meet spec.
I can bore you with many more sad details and might if you want but here is the essential question.
I now realize that we could have possibly avoided this plumbing problem if the person at the town who issued us the permit had told us that we could have the towns inspector come and approve or question certain procedures at certain stages (electricity before putting up the walls, plumbing before cementing the floor etc). I was not aware of this at all.
Question:
Is it the towns responsibility to inform home owners that we had the right to call in their inspectors at certain stages in construction, or does the responsibly solely lie with homeowner to know these things ? Do I have a case, to and proceed to sue the city for neglecting to give us this critical information, or am I guilty of being ignorant ?
Thousands of dollars must now be spent to rectify the situation, that in my opinion could have been avoided.
Thanks.
*We gave our input in March when you posted this question. Time to talk to an attorney or are you going to sue city hall by yourself. Try contacting "Holmes on Homes". Maybe they will fix it for free.
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Thanks all for your opinions.
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Bill,
Yes, I agree. I am 100 % guilty of being ignorant. Having said that and putting on my Devil's Advocate hat - What about all those "do it yourselfers" out there who decide to do some renovations on their own and to follow the law and obtain a bulding permit ? I can tell you with certainty after talking with a few of my non-contruction but very handy freinds, that with the exception of 1 - not one other knew about that the homeowner had a right to call in a city inspector at critical stages during a renovation. Their attitude, along with what I would think is the majority of non-contruction people is that building permit is essentially designed to increase your property value once completed to generate more taxes for teh city. Most ignore getting it because of this.
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On 5/25/2011 11:02 AM, qcan wrote:

You keep saying 'right', it is not a right it is a requirement that periodic inspections be done as construction progresses.

Build permits serve many purposes, one is to ensure that your evaluation is correct (for taxes) and another is to insure the construction meets code requirements. That is the reason that periodic inspections are required, to ensure it meets code.
In most locations, not getting the permit subjects the owner/builder to the risk that whatever additions or work done might have to be removed and re-done properly.
Again, it is your responsibility to schedule the required inspections, that you didn't know this doesn't change it one bit. That the contractor you hired flaked out and is gone is not the government's fault either.
Look in a mirror: the guy you see is the one who made the mistakes, blame him, not the government.
--
I'm never going to grow up.

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Yes, I take full responsibility. My fault - no question there. I am not blaming the government. My point is that the average dude out there who is not in the industry may not be aware of this. To me it would have been just common courtesy for the city to say something like "by the way, you are aware that you can call us for an inspection... etc."
Live and learn the hard way.
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On 5/25/2011 2:38 PM, qcan wrote:

It would be nice if they did, I suspect that their attitude is that if you feel you are competent enough to get the permit yourself, you already know the inspection requirements.
--
I'm never going to grow up.

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