Ask the Architect

‘He told me I didn’t need plans’

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Q. I just had my deck and pool replaced. I wanted to do it before spring because I missed getting anyone to do it last summer. Everyone was too busy. I had an architect draw the structure plans but don’t have any permits. The architect looked at the deck and said he would have to redraw the plans since the builder didn’t follow them. I asked the builder, and he told me I didn’t need plans, and even if I did, they’re usually done after the deck and pool are done so that the plans match the deck and pool. Is he right? I’m confused.

A. Your deck builder is so far off that he should pay for the plan changes by having you deduct part of your payment to them. Because you didn’t file for a permit with the plans and obtain a permit before starting, your building application will need to be filed as a “maintain,” meaning that the application is now for something that is requested to keep. Your builder has created more problems than he solved, because anything not done to code compliance will need to be redone.

Most people believe that building departments just take in plans, stamp them “approved” and hand out permits, quick and easy, like getting a driver’s license. Not so. Building officials check for multiples of compliances to their rules, regulations, zoning requirements and state codes. Even for something as simple as a deck and pool.

Why, you may ask? Because of people like your builder, who have no respect for the architect, the building department, the state codes or you. If there’s anything wrong with your deck or pool and property damage or injury occurs, your property insurance company isn’t compelled to settle a claim, leaving you liable for the cost of anything from injury to wrongful death. Because it’s happened to others, you are required to prevent drowning, railing collapse and deck collapse.

The builder has conned you into even questioning the process because he’s willing to take your money on the gamble that it just won’t happen to you. He just wanted to get in, get out and get paid with no reason to be concerned about whether you’re safe, compliant or able to close out a permit if required to before closing the sale of your property or an equity line of credit.

Best of all, for him, is that by the time you find this out, he’s long gone and, in most cases, his name is forgotten. He sets the architect up to break the bad news to you that since the plans don’t match the work, a sharp building inspector comparing the plans with the work will notice the difference, and at the very end of the process, or so you thought, you’ll have to start over, with revised plans, all because the con artist builder didn’t build to plan. Good luck!

© 2019 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to yourhousedr@aol.com, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.