The Blog

Changes to the Florida Building Code act 2019(Building Permits)

Many times permits have not been properly closed and it has created issues for home buyers and sellers. Effective October 1st, 2019 there are some changes to building permits in Florida. A shortened summary is listed below taken from analysis from the State of Florida.

The seller’s property disclosure form now includes questions about active or open permits on the home which have not been closed by a final inspection. In paragraph 12 of the contract, the seller is required to resolve open or expired permits and obtain permits for any unpermitted improvements up to a certain dollar amount. The seller must assist the buyer with closing permits. The closings may be delayed.

The changes in the law provide clarity with open and expired building permits, give procedures to close permits and establish notices for local agencies and owners to utilize.

An open permit is defined using a combination of comment notice information, permit issuance dates, and determinations of whether and when permit inspections or final inspections occurred. An open permit that expires without a final inspection is considered an expired permit as provided in the Florida Building Code.

A permit is closed when:

A final inspection demonstrates that all permit requirements have been satisfied;

No work is started under the original contract within six months of permit issuance.

A current property owner and the local enforcement agency may enter into a mutual agreement to engage specified licensed contractors to fulfill closing requirements.

Absent a mutual agreement, the permit may be closed by the homeowner by:

Retaining the services of the original, licensed contractor to complete work within the scope of the permit;

Hiring an active, licensed professional engineer or architect to inspect the construction work and provide local enforcement agency sealed affidavit certifying compliance with all the requirements of the permit;

When selling the home the owner can resolve certain open permit issues and the owner is not required to reside in the home for one year.

A contractor hired to complete the original contractor’s work is not liable for any existing defects or requirements and is only liable for their work.

Affidavits submitted by an engineer or architect are deemed to satisfy permit closing requirements unless the local enforcement agency conducts its own final inspection within seven business days of an affidavit receipt and discovers code or permit violations.

A local enforcement agency may not deny a building permit, issue a notice of violation, or otherwise penalize or sanction a purchaser of property for an improperly closed permit within five years of a recorded commencement notice or its last amendment. If no commencement notice was issued, the period increases to within seven years after a building permit is issued. A local government agency’s other rights and remedies against the property are not affected by the bill.

Any permit issued by a local enforcement agency, including an individual trade permit, may be closed six years after issuance of the permit if there are no documented code violations or safety hazards.

If a building permit is issued but not closed within one to three years, the local enforcement agency must send an advisory notice to the property owner regarding proper permit closing procedures. Failure to receive a notice does not relieve the property owner or contractor from closing the permit. Additionally, the bill: Permits a contractor to hold an unlimited number of active permits.

These changes should help to resolve many of the open permits that are found when a property is sold and inform homeowners when they are left open. During our home inspection process we research permits and find many that are open or voided. Hopefully this will help eliminate the problems that develop because of them.

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What is a Four-Point Inspection?

A four-point inspection is a Florida specific inspection (although other states are beginning to adopt their own version) that tells home insurance companies the condition of a home. Typically, insurers will request this report to be completed to write a new policy for homes 30 years old or greater. However, it has been heard that a few will request the form as early as 10 years old.

That being said, what are the four points you may ask? Good question. The four-points are the general working condition of the roof, electrical, plumbing, and A/C systems. Although the inspectors are looking for general conditions, there are a few items that insurers pay extra attention to. We will cover a few items here. Future posts will cover the points in more detail, but reviewing this post can warn you about hefty repairs. (NOTE: A Four-Point inspection is not a replacement of a home inspection. This inspection is made for insurance companies only due to many reasonings.)

Roof

Here are some warning signs to insurance companies:

  1. How old is your roof? Does it have a life expectancy of 3-5 years? As time progresses, insurers are looking for at least 5 years of life left on the roof before they insure.
  2. Does your roof show signs of current/active leaks? Your inspector should walk the roof and attic to find evidence of these.
  3. Is your flat roof have “ponding” water? This is a sign that your flat roof is not draining properly and can shorten the life expectancy.

Electrical

  1. Do you have aluminum wiring? Your inspector will remove your electrical panel covers to look for aluminum wiring. The main issue here is aluminum and copper wiring expand at different rates and when connected together, can loosen their connections overtime, therefore potentially creating a spark or fire.
  2. Do you have a particular branded panel? These are: challenger, FPE, and Sylvania. These panels have been known to have certain safety issues.
  3. Is your home wired properly overall? This is a general safety item that covers items like: exposed wiring, double tapped wiring, and grounding.

Air Conditioning

  1. Does your A/C system operate and cool the home?
  2. What kind of heat system do you have? Home insurance companies do not like space heaters.

Plumbing

  1. Do you have any signs of leaks?
  2. Do you have Polybutylene plumbing? This is gray flexible piping (typically through the attic) that has been known to leak at the connections due to poor installation.

This post is not to be taken as full coverage of the report, but as a quick reference to major defects insurance companies can request to be repaired or replaced before insuring your home.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out in the comments or contact us!

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“Deregathon” and Florida Home inspectors

Albert Cook, John Shishilla, Jeff Clair
Home Inspection Licensing Discussion

Today I attended Governor Ron DeSantis’s first ever Deregathon. The Twenty-three licensing boards of Florida met to see what recommendations they would make to help Florida businesses have less regulation. The Governor spoke of saving the citizens of Florida money by having less regulation while still protecting Florida residents from harm.

Home inspectors in Florida do not have a licensing board and are directly licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. There is only about Eleven-thousand licensed home inspectors in Florida with only Seven-thousand active licenses and less than four-thousand actually doing home inspections.

Some professions have boards in Florida with some requirements that maybe unnecessary. While attending the meetings I heard the Construction industry licensing board discussing ways to make business and licensing more streamline. I heard the Realtor’s Board discuss their licensing requirements and even the Building Code administrators and Inspectors Board with ways for military personal to obtain their licenses.

The Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) had great ideas about simplifying processes to obtain other licenses. Making it easier for Division 1 contractors to do roofing. They discussed adding Handy-person licenses so people could legally get small projects done easier. Concerns over Owner-Builder permits and construction while discussing ways to shrink the board itself. They discussed ideas on how to allow for Division 2 contractors to hire subcontractors and even allowing those with a college degree in construction to skip testing for the license. There was even talk of finding ways to reduce the cost of the books for contractors ( currently about $2100.00) so more could easily become licensed.

I was happy to unofficially attend and represent some of the licenses I currently have. Knowing what it took to obtain some of the licenses I am concerned about how it might affect me, my crew, family, and friends. I believe that the Governor has all great intentions with this initiative and understand that many rules and regulations can get in the way of getting the job done and taking care of business. I will continue to watch how this develops in the future because we have a long way to go before there are any changes. I was nice to see government working and debating for the betterment of its citizens. and I am glad I went. Watch for future updates.

Home Inspector visit Deregathon
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