By Lorianna Kastrop, Vice President/CFO, The Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects
In these days of housing shortages, a lot of cities and towns are looking at their housing stock and making sure that it is safe, legal, and counts toward their housing inventory to report to the state. Garages, sheds, and enclosed porches that have been converted to bedrooms are being red-tagged, if they were converted without permits. This is especially true if they are being rented out, which can be a liability to both the homeowner and the city.
Perhaps you bought the property with this as an existing condition, but you will still be required to remedy the unpermitted work. Perhaps you did the work yourself. Either way, the red tag usually means you will need to hire an architect to document the work and help to obtain the required permit(s). Sometimes changes are necessary to meet building code requirements. Please do not panic. This situation can usually be corrected.
Here is what to expect if you contact us for a legalization project (based on the COVID-19 protocols):
Step 1—We will do a quick search of the property on GIS and County records to familiarize ourselves with the property. We will do this at no fee to you.
Step 2—You will send us whatever information you have about the property, e.g., the red tag violation, interior and exterior photos, and any correspondence you have had with the City.
Step 3—We will provide a proposal to you estimating our fees for a preliminary assessment of what we find to be correctable deficiencies. This preliminary assessment will be based on our best guess after review of the given remote information. The actual existing conditions of the property can be double-checked later. The proposal will be provided in PDF format with an option for digital signature. It will also include our standard Terms & Conditions.
Step 4—Once you have signed the proposal, The Kastrop Group will provide the preliminary assessment.
Step 5—If the assessment is adequate for your use, we will send you the first invoice electronically. We allow online payment for your convenience. If more information needs to be included, we can work this out further.
Step 6—If you decide to move forward based on the assessment, The Kastrop Group will provide you with a proposal for the work to be completed at the site, including construction documents for approval by the City. We understand that we will most likely be working with a third-party plan check service during this process, since many cities and counties are using outside consultants for this purpose.
Step 7—Once you have signed the proposal for architectural services, we will schedule a site visit to verify and analyze the existing conditions on the property. We can do this with necessary personal protection equipment and social distancing. (Once we are allowed on the property and in the building, you do not have to be in the same room with us and can remain at a distance.)
Step 8—We will draw up the existing conditions on our computer-aided design and drafting system (CADD) along with the construction documents for required remediation work. You will receive an electronic invoice from us for this work.
Step 9–We will submit the drawings to the appropriate permitting agency. (You will need to pay them for the permit fees and any fines assessed.) We will submit electronically, if allowed, otherwise we will follow their instructions for permitting procedures.
Step 10—Once you receive your building permit, you can hire a licensed contractor to do the required remediation work. We have trustworthy General Contractors that we can recommend to you.
We will make every effort to be collaborative with the City, so that your goal and their goal of legalizing your property are met as time-efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Be assured that this legalization will likely improve your property value. It will also make your home a safer place for you (and any tenants).
Thank you for reading, and as always, we are Designing for Your Reality. Stay safe, stay well.