Thanks to the infinite wisdom of our city government overlords, residents in my Home Owners Association were forced to pay thousands of dollars for a phony repair. When asked if the city would reimburse our association for their costly mistake, a city building official referred us to the city’s lawyers.
In October, our condo building had its annual inspection from the city government. The city found a “crack” running through our garage. The city’s building official then gave us a “NOTICE OF VIOLATION” stating that, because of the crack, we needed to provide a structural engineer’s report.
The city’s notice read, “Failure to comply will result in a citation being issued without further warnings.” We had 10 days to provide the city with the report or we would face daily fines.
Having no knowledge of building architecture myself, I was very concerned about the crack and assumed the city’s “building official” must be more knowledgeable about this sort of thing. I set out immediately to locate a structural engineer to review this crack, while also being incredibly stressed about how expensive it would be to fix.
Finding an available structural engineer was a chore; many engineers weren’t available or couldn’t provide the report in the short timeline the city gave us.
I pleaded with the city to give us more time, seeing as holidays were coming up and we were making our best effort to locate an engineer. The city agreed to give us an extension if we provided proof of our efforts in locating an engineer. I forwarded multiple email chains to the city showing proof, and the city bestowed its mercy upon us and awarded us an extension.
I ultimately located an engineer. He came out, did his work, and sent over his report. The structural engineer reported the alleged “crack” was not actually a crack, but an expansion joint that was put there on purpose. He recommended replacing some sealant on it but said this wasn’t actually necessary.
This report cost our residents $1,600.
I provided the report to the city, who then said they’d inspect again in January to confirm we replaced the unnecessary sealant. I asked why a confirmation visit was needed, as it wasn’t a required fix but simply a recommendation by the structural engineer; not replacing the sealant had no detrimental effects on the building or its tenants.
The city’s building official said he would speak to his manager and get back to me.
I then asked the city’s official who would be reimbursing us for the $1,600 report. He replied (probably shocked that I dared to even ask) that I would have to “take it up with legal.”
I explained that I didn’t see why we should be forced to pay for a report the city demanded for a “crack” that wasn’t actually even a crack, but a necessary and common feature of the building. He was confused and repeated that he would email me the contact info for the city’s legal department.
What barriers are actually in place to prevent city employees from issuing arbitrary fines for alleged “violations” regarding unnecessary “repairs”?
Does this city “building official” get reprimanded for failure to identify a common building feature? Should someone who doesn’t know as much as a building engineer be conducting building inspections and threatening taxpayers with fines?
I’m still waiting for the city’s response to their incompetence. In the meantime, our residents are footing the bill for a $1,600 report that was never needed. Even if I do get the city to reimburse us for that bill, technically, we will still pay for it since the money is coming from our city’s taxpayers.
Suffice it to say that I’m looking forward to the day when government bureaucrats are running our healthcare system. Not.
Author’s Note: I managed to get elected on my HOA board of directors for my condominium. This is my first time to be on a board of directors for an HOA, but I figured I could be useful with my political experience and knowledge. I’m up for re-election in March and plan to run a campaign on strong border (property) security and lower spending. I’m hoping to get Mexico to pay for a (bigger) wall, but I’m not sure how that’ll go.