New House, Old Problems - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

New House, Old Problems

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The Reedys' new Coral Springs home The Reedys' new Coral Springs home
Amber Reedy Amber Reedy
Tyler Reedy Tyler Reedy

For a young couple, their first home can be a dream come true. One South Florida couple made sure they did all their research before they signed on the dotted line, then they moved in and were stunned by what happened next. Which is why they called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

WSVN -- When Amber and Tyler were looking for a dream home, they wanted three things.

Something for Tyler.

Amber Reedy: "My husband wanted the pool."

Something for Amber.

Amber Reedy: "I wanted to kitchen and the big living room."

And most importantly, something for their 2-year-old son.

Amber Reedy: "The reason we bought this house was that it had an extra bedroom that fit perfectly off the living room for a playroom."

Then, three days after they bought the Coral Springs home, the dream became a disaster.

Amber Reedy: "And there was a knock on the door and a piece of paper was at the door saying there was a building code violation."

Turns out that playroom for Levi used to be the front porch. It was enclosed 15 to 20 years ago by a prior owner without a permit, something that never showed up when the Reedys did their research.

Amber Reedy: "We did roof inspection, wind mitigation inspection, we did the home inspection, we had two appraisals. I thought we did everything we possibly could."

Coral Springs told them they needed to pay an architect to do drawings to show the city what illegal work was done. Then they had to bring it up to the current code.

Amber Reedy: "The first thing is the roof would have to be raised three inches because it doesn't meet within building code."

Raising a roof and replacing the beams would cost tens of thousands of dollars. The city official told Amber it would make the house safer, so naturally she wanted to know how it would accomplish that.

Amber Reedy: "So I asked what is the safety issue with the three inches on the roof. 'Well, it doesn't matter what the safety is, the code is the code,' is what I am getting told."

The city official also told her the front wall needed to be replaced; this window was too low and needed to be raised.

And if they didn't do it, a city official delivered what they call a fact. What a homeowner calls a threat.

Amber Reedy: "If the city is able to start charging us a thousand dollars a day, which they say they can, I am going to have to foreclose on my home. I have no choice. I can't sell it."

Before buying the house, Amber noticed the city had inspected and approved three remodeling projects on it over the last few years.

Coral Springs inspectors never noticed this illegal enclosure, and when they did find out, they waited till three days after the Reedys bought the house to deliver the citation.

Amber Reedy: "They apologized for this situation but it's come up in the past. 'We are the owners,' and according to them, 'You buy the house, you buy the problem.' Exact words from them."

Amber and Tyler are stunned. Two hardworking people walking into a nightmare after trying to do everything right and now being wronged.

Amber Reedy: "I just want it to go away. I want to enjoy my house."

Well, Howard, the Reedys have problems they had no idea about. Are they responsible to correct them?

Howard Finkelstein: "The law can be cruel, unfair and that's exactly what happened in this case. The city can give the homeowners some breaks, but they don't have to, and while the Reedys didn't commit the violation or even know about it, the law says, as the owner, they are responsible."

When I asked a city spokesperson why they didn't notice the illegal room when they approved other projects at the home, how and when they found out about it and why they waited till three days after the Reedys closed to cite them, an official said they would get the answer, but the building officials never gave me the answers.

However, the city did give the Reedys one break. They didn't force them to raise the roof, which saved some money.

But the Reedys said they had to spend thousands to hire an architect, a contractor, install hurricane straps, replace the beams in the ceiling, redo the electrical wiring, knock down the wall in the front, replace it and this window.

Tyler Reedy: "This wall and this window is all new."

For the Reedys, it was thousands and thousands of dollars to bring a house up to code. Tyler is now working a second job and Amber is looking for one to pay the bills. They thought it would be an ideal home. It has not been.

Tyler Reedy: "The stress level, especially on my wife. I can kind of, I am a little bit mellower than she is, but for her it was very stressful."

Patrick Fraser: "Now, what could the Reedys have done to uncover this? In many places, nothing, although some cities have the original plans from when the house was built. If you can look at those plans, you can see if anything is different. If work has been done and no permits were pulled, you know there could be a problem."

A mess remodeling your life? Wanna construct a solution? Permit us to help. We have a simple code: just help people.

With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7News.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:

E-mail: helpmehoward@wsvn.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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