Changes during construction

Be very careful when you or your contractor make changes on the site

As a professional dedicated to serving my clients, I do not seem to ever be prepared to watch the homeowners turn on me and the other consultants to side with their contractors. It is amazing to me how blind and deaf homeowners can turn over night.   picture-003_opt1

My job, while designing somebody’s home, is to guide that person through the entire design process and to make sure everything I show on the plans reflects what my clients want. Once the project is approved by the city or county, the contractor picked for the job by the homeowner needs to follow the plans approved by the officials. Those plans reflect what the homeowners want and the city and county stamps make those drawings legal documents. We, as designers, do not get paid to protect anybody from their contractors but we feel it is our duty to notify them when we observe irregularities at the job site.

No matter who the contractor is, the plans approved by the city and county need to be followed exactly and the homeowners, more than anybody, need to understand that. Contractors cannot deviate from the approved plans without getting the change approved by the city or county, whichever has jurisdiction.

My point with this article is to emphasize that you have to be very cautious when you or your contractor make changes on the site. As a design professional with over twenty years of experience in residential design I can tell you, at the end of the day, the money a homeowner collects through a lawsuit against the contractors does not pay for the months and even years of anxiety and stress that result from negligence on the homeowner’s part. Protect yourself and always keep your eyes open. When a contractor starts to make changes, confront him/her. Ask why and make sure you get a straight answer. If you do not know enough about construction to be able to do that, then find someone who does. Or hire your residential designer to oversee the construction if he/she is available. Because you will not get the okay from the city inspectors unless you present the changes to the officials and get them stamped as approved. In the long run, if your addition or remodel does not pass the final inspection, the money you spent on the project will go down the drain because unless an improvement is approved by the city all the way to the end, the square footage (and therefore the cost of the improvement) will not be reflected on the property documents as legal. Besides, the Code Enforcement can open a case against you for non compliance and those are hard to fight.

For more info on Code Enforcement cases, refer to my articles:
Municipal Code Violations – Part I
Municipal Code Violations – Part II