By Mary O’KEEFE
Former Glendale City Councilmember John Drayman has received a letter from the city to comply with an inspection of his recently remodeled condominium.
Drayman’s condo had suffered water damage when a pipe inside a wall busted. Part of the repairs was the responsibility of the homeowner’s association and part by Drayman.
Since the work was to be done on his condo and he would have to be out of his home during the repairs, Drayman said he decided to remodel. He knew he needed to find a company that would allow him to make payments for the remodel. A friend introduced him to National Fire Systems and Service and the work began.
“I wasn’t aware at the time that [National Fire Systems] didn’t have the [proper] license,” Drayman said.
He said he was led to believe they did have the license and he never asked to see a copy. Drayman also discovered after the remodeling that the company had not taken out the proper permits.
Drayman said when he discovered the permit problem he brought two representatives of National Fire including owner Mike Thomassian into Scott Howard, the city attorney’s office.
“He did,” Howard confirmed. “He met with me and the Community Development director [Hassan Haghani] and two individuals from National Fire.”
At that meeting they discussed the permits that had to be pulled according to the information that was provided by Drayman and National Fire representatives.
Permits were then pulled and paid for but that was not the end for Drayman or National Fire.
The original estimate for the remodel was about $95,000, however, the final bill was double that estimate. Drayman paid about $117,000, but National Fire said more than $98,000 was still owed.
National Fire ended up placing a lien on Drayman’s condo.
A complaint was made to the city that the amount of work done far exceeded what was permitted. Drayman knew he had to have an inspection.
“I had made an appointment through the automated system,” he said. “But when I was making the appointment I found that I had to have original plans.”
These originals he did not have and with the current relationship with National Fire was certain he would not be getting the proper paperwork.
“I called Hassan and asked him if I had to have originals and he said yes,” Drayman said.
So he cancelled his inspection and was in the process of getting another company to help him when he received the latest letter.
“It is not a demand but a notification,” he said.
“It is basically an information letter, [describing] the nature of the inspection and inviting cooperation with the property owner,” Haghani said. “The letter is not that uncommon, there are two steps. The first time you get a letter of work without a permit, we contact them and the correction follows.”
Normally, at that point, the contractors pull the permits and the homeowner pays twice the amount of a normal permit.
“This is what we did for John and his contractor,” Haghani said.
The letter comes after a neighbor who notices more work being done than permitted for makes a complaint, usually. The city inspects the allegations and either finds more permitting is required or things are correct.
He added the purpose of the letter is to inform the property owner of the invasive nature of the inspection.
The bottom line is with Drayman or any Glendale resident, the city tries to work with the homeowner.
“We are not knocking down walls,” Haghani said.
Inspectors will cut into walls but try to do so in a small area, like in a closet if possible. There are times when more invasive inspection must be done but that is rare, Haghani said.
Ultimately it is the homeowner’s, in this case Drayman’s, responsibility for pulling the proper permits and following up with the inspection, if required.
“It is not like John has refused to have the inspection, he still has several days to [arrange it],” Haghani said.
Drayman said that some of the difference in the amount of what was permitted and the costs of the remodel can be explained by what needs a permit and what does not.
“For example, a counter needs a permit but a counter top does not,” he said. “But the counter top is part of the remodeling [final bill].”
Drayman added the inspection will be done and if any more permitting is required he will comply.