Questions about building inspections
March 13, 2014 12:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm renovating a multi-unit building. The occupancy permits were never revoked. Can I finish one unit and rent it out while finishing the others? How do I handle inspections?

We nearly have the work done inside the unit we're already living in and the unit we'd like to rent out. We would like to have the city inspect the finish plumbing and building work, and then go ahead and rent it after we know that we won't have to do more construction inside. Another unit still needs finished up, and there is still some exterior work to be done. How do we handle this?

The exterior work does include back stairs that connect to the unit, but we do not plan to demolish them, just to replace one railing, paint them, and otherwise improve them.

In general, I'd appreciate any tips on the final building inspections you can offer. Do I need to buy the fridge before the inspection? Caulk around the tub? Install the closet doors? (They're not on the plans.) Thanks!
posted by slidell to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Is there some reason you're not asking the building inspector these questions?
posted by jon1270 at 4:20 AM on March 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm with jon1270, you need to contact the city to insure that you're in compliance with all building codes. Also, is your structure zoned to be mulit-tenant? Sometimes single family houses are partitioned without permits and aren't correctly zoned.

I've found that if you call the building inspector directly that they are VERY helpful in answering all of your questions and in offering advice about what to do and how to do it.

You did pull permits for your plumbing and electrical, right?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:09 AM on March 13, 2014

Ask the building inspector(s). This varies so so much with different states and cities, there's really no good answer we could give you here.

Are you looking for Section 8 or just a normal C of O to rent the place?

Also, in Mass you'd have some really heavy lead-based paint regulations to deal with if the building is pre-1978 (even if you've renovated heavily). I'd look into your state regs on that. You also will need to worry about the EPA regs on lead-based paint (RRP and the annual lead disclosure).
posted by pie ninja at 5:47 AM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

This answer to this question depends on the laws and regulations of where you live. Contact the local housing inspector office and ask them this question.
posted by dfriedman at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2014

You should contact the building inspector for the answers to your questions, there's no way for us to accurately answer these for you. It will be the most efficient use of your time.
posted by hootenatty at 8:39 AM on March 13, 2014

Response by poster: Hmm, I guess I could ask the inspection department. Normally, we try to do everything right, then call them, so I didn't think of just checking in with them for advice. I'm in a big city, so there's no one inspector that we've built a relationship with. We get a different person nearly every time. We did pull permits for everything we have done, and the place has always been multi family. We aren't interested in Section 8. Thanks for the heads up on lead disclosures.
posted by slidell at 9:05 AM on March 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hmm. I'm now second-guessing the idea of just asking the inspector. It sounds like calling the IRS to ask about the most advantageous approach to doing your taxes, rather than getting advice from an accountant or lawyer who can help think about how to (and whether you can) legally and appropriately accomplish what you want to do.

I've noticed the city has some flexibility and gray area. (Someone said they couldn't turn on our gas until we finalled out all permits for everything. The next inspector signed off on the gas meter release. That meant I could actually start taking warm showers.) If they handle this flexibly, we are in good shape. If they interpret things strictly, it would be a real financial problem. They seem to be more flexible when we get our act together ahead of time rather than relying on them for basic information.

I think I'll contact the contractor we worked with on the earlier phase of the project, and maybe try to get general information from the inspection desk anonymously before speaking with any inspectors more "on the record." If anyone has other suggestions or information, I'd appreciate it.
posted by slidell at 11:02 AM on March 13, 2014

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