Dealing with city government - getting a certificate of occupancy
March 27, 2014 10:58 AM   Subscribe

Dealing with city government - getting a certificate of occupancy. I don't know where else to turn for strategies or information, so thanks for reading. I'll try to make this concise:

-Did large house renovation/addition - all went well. We love it and the process was very smooth.

-Financed the project with a construction loan. The bank will give us the final two disbursements once we produce the certificate of occupancy. Note that these last two disbursements are equivalent to 20% of the borrowed amount, in this case $64,000. Not to mention that I should get a C of O regardless once a project like this has been completed.

-To get a C of O the town requires a number of inspections and a set of as built site drawings.

-The town has all of the above. With the exception of a memo from the engineering department that says the drainage system was inspected (which it was).

-This memo is issued from a guy in engineering after he speaks with the inspector

-I've called him multiple times, my contractor has spoken with him as has my architect but no resolution. He has only said he'd speak with the guy who did the actual drainage inspection.

What do I do? Not only can I not get a response from him, there is no way for me to know the status of this missing memo. As far as I can tell I have no leverage. The inspector who issues the C of O has no control over the guy in engineering (a flaw in the system as I have learned). Any thoughts on how I might get this resolved would be appreciated.
posted by Blackcow167 to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
You might contact your alderman/councilman. One of the things they are charged with doing is advocating for their constituents in these types is situations.
posted by rockindata at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

-I've called him multiple times, my contractor has spoken with him as has my architect but no resolution. He has only said he'd speak with the guy who did the actual drainage inspection.

I'm not following this. Did you speak with the guy in Inspections, or with the guy in Engineering who did the actual drainage inspection?

If you haven't tried to get in touch with the guy in Engineering, I'd start there. You can also ask the administrative staff in Engineering and/or Inspections -- sometimes they know more about what's going on, how to move the levers of power, etc. You might get lucky and find someone who takes pity on you.

Is the guy in Engineering the entire department, or does he have a boss?

Do you have an elected official's office you can reach out to? I think in my city I'd be calling my city council representative. However, every city and town is different in this.
posted by pie ninja at 11:13 AM on March 27, 2014

Who has the money, currently ?

When you say your contractor, I assume you mean the GC, and not one of the subs ? This is exactly why you hire a GC, they deal with all the permitting (and this is why you don't pay the GC until everything is done). I assume the GC hasn't been paid in full, and you should remind the GC that they won't be paid in full until this is cleared up.

Sure you can add your voice to the hassle, but this is the GCs job, and he's who you should be calling and pressuring to get it done.
posted by k5.user at 11:23 AM on March 27, 2014

I handle permits and inspections for a GC. Why are you doing this? That's their job in my opinion. You shouldn't have to do anything.

A 10% holdback is fair until all work is complete and that is part of the work.
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:05 PM on March 27, 2014

Response by poster: I'm just not sure the GC is hungry enough. There are still some projects left for him to do (but none that impacted final inspection) and indeed there is still 5% outstanding on his balance. I just want to wrap it up and get my final disbursements from the bank.
posted by Blackcow167 at 12:10 PM on March 27, 2014

I used to work for a city council member. It was part of my job to get complaints like this and bug the shit out of the relevant departments until the issue was resolved. After all, if you work in a city department you don't want to piss of one of the people that controls your budget.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:58 PM on March 27, 2014

Whenever I have a problem with the City I go down there in person and tell them I want to meet with the person/department. If they say that person is busy, tell them you will wait. My problems are usually resolved very pleasantly in less than 20 minutes, often by the head of the department, or sometimes even a savvy front desk person that works the phone/computer system.
posted by littlewater at 8:56 PM on March 27, 2014

The suggestion to go in person and escalate to your councilmember are both good. If you haven't tried calling the inspector (I couldn't tell if you were having trouble getting in touch with the inspector or engineer or both), that might be a place to start.
posted by slidell at 2:53 PM on March 28, 2014

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