Monday, March 27, 2006
Help Me Howard: Roof Permit
If you have ever needed to do any repairs to your home you have probably thought, 'Boy, if I0 just knew how to do it myself!' So what if you were qualified to do it? Could you pull a permit to do it? Well one family tried it and was told you have to be a licensed contractor to work on your own home. Is that true? Here is the answer from Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN--If you look up do-it-yourselfer in the dictionary, don't be surprised to see a picture of Patricia Schnoor.
Patricia Schnoor: "We ripped out the wall that was here and we put in the bar and all the cabinets and we did all the tile work ourselves."
In fact, if something needs to be done Patricia and her husband want to do it.
Patricia Schnoor: "We replaced this... and when we did it the old window was not a hurricane impact window. This is a hurricane impact window. "
So after hurricane Wilma, it was only natural that they tackle the biggest project of all.
Patricia Schnoor: "Our roof was the worst of our damage."
With available roofers as rare as snow in south Florida, doing the work themselves would get the job done quicker and cheaper. So they went out and bought the materials..
Patricia Schnoor: "These are the metal shingles that come in. Once you lay the starter row they all snap together. They're very very easy to put on."
They actually met with the manufacture to learn how to install the shingles, and then applied for the permit to replace the roof.
Patricia Schnoor: "We've submitted once, were denied. Just out of hand, no discussion."
Miami-Dade County put the reason in writing.
Patricia Schnoor: "They say no you can't a homeowner can't do that, you have to get a contractor."
But Patricia and her husband feel they are qualified. So they met with an inspector who explained what they needed to do to get a permit. They did it and resubmitted the request.
Patricia Schnoor: "And not three hours later we had the answer that it had been denied again."
After reading why it was denied this time -- Patricia suspects no-one even read their application.
Patricia Schnoor: "I know nobody even read our permit because they denied because they thought it was a panel roof and it's shingles."
Patricia is convinced the county is wrong in denying them... but getting a sympathetic ear has been well, to put it politely, a little tough.
Patricia Schnoor: "When we had our interview yesterday, I said we want to get this done before the rainy season, and he said you and fifty-thousand other people.'
But can the county force them to hire a licensed contractor? To find out they called someone who is licensed to practice law: that Help Me Howard fella.
Howard Finkelstein: "Miami-Dade County had no right to deny this permit on the basis of not having a general contractor. State law is very clear, a homeowner can serve as their own general contractor as long as they do the work or personally surpervise it."
In Miami-Dade County there is an extra requirement...
The homeowner has to satisfy the building official that he or she has the knowledge of the Florida Building Code and ability to perform the work.
When we called the building department -- they were very helpful to us.
They agreed to look over the schnoor's paperwork again.
And this time they approved the permit.
Howard says a lot of building departments try to force homeowners to hire contractors -- for a reason you might not guess.
Howard Finkelstein: "Even though state law allows homeowners to do their own work some government agencies try to stop the homeowner -- and believe it or not the counties do this to protect the homeowners from themselves -- construction work is not simple. And unless you are qualified, in most cases, you need an experienced contractor supervising the work."
The Schnoor's have the desire and the ability to do their own work. And now they have the permit to get the roof done.
Patricia Schnoor: "We want to do it right. There's no question we want to do it right. We want a quality roof that's going to last us... We never want to do this again."
Patrick Fraser: "Of course don't drive by and expect to see Patricia and her husband doing all the work by themselves. They have hired a couple of people to help get it done before the rainy season pours in.
"And by the way just because you have the legal right to do construction work does not mean you want to do it. As one contractor told me, there is a reason we all have grey hair and high blood pressure."
Seems like you are not permitted to solve a problem? Contract us. You don't have to have a license to help people, just the desire."
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