Building codes

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Re: Building codes

Post by T on Wed Nov 12, 2008 9:59 pm

It has been said that the landlord cannot find/get a contractor to do the required work. I find this hard to believe. I was under the impression that the economy was poor and that many are looking for work. Waugh's Mt. View Electric could wire up those smoke detectors in a day.

Am I missing something?

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Re: Building codes

Post by Guest on Wed Nov 12, 2008 10:10 pm

T wrote:
Am I missing something?


Yup he is a slumloard and cares only about the money Section 8 will give him...Most landlordsthat own buildings are like that. But there is a few i no that aren't


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Re: Building codes

Post by C on Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:06 am

It seems like the tenants are blaming the town and not the landlord. Why don't they take him to court for moving expenses and a return of their security deposit (and advance rent) rather than expect the town to pay for their relocation?
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Re: Building codes

Post by Guest on Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:42 am

Where is JSN to bail them out, Some advocate she is!!


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Re: Building codes

Post by Phil Blampied on Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:54 pm

How can we move forward with the code enforcement issue?

1) Opt for the local modification allowed with both the Fire and Life Safety Code and the ICC Building Code. Have a committee look over the codes and extract a working model that takes into account the problems with older buildings (a rehabilitation code). I understand, that with Jim Barnett, the town is making some effort that way with the fire code.

2) Find financial support for landlords who might be driven out of business by requirements to spend tens of thosands of dollars on code upgrades. We (Econ Dev Committee more or less) are working on that. We need your support. There is a strong possibility of state money to assist landlords in meeting the fire code. HOWEVER, watch out, there will be backwards-thinking arguments along the lines of "why should they get money when the town doesn't give me money to fix my own roof."

Why? Because $5,000 invested now to help a landlord keep a multi-family building from closing down will save the down an eventual $35,000 demolition cost. We need to be practical in this matter, not moralistic, or else we will really pay for it eventually. Be sure to stand up for the sensible solution. Thanks.

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Re: Building codes

Post by Phil Blampied on Thu Nov 13, 2008 8:57 pm

Uh, town, not down ...

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Re: Building codes

Post by Timeout on Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:10 am

Phil, you make an interesting case in terms of supporting landlords with your second point. It sounds somewhat logical in terms of big picture cost to the town. How does the same argument not apply to private homeowners who have to meet insurance codes as well? What cost to the town if a home's value is reduced or uninsurable because a private family cannot or will not meet those requirements? Is the town or state responsible to help out?
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Re: Building codes

Post by Timeout on Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:12 am

Also, shouldn't we have codes in place that require homes and buildings to not get past the point of repair? Wouldn't that save long term in demolition costs? I still see it from both sides.
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Re: Building codes

Post by Timeout on Fri Nov 14, 2008 11:14 am

I find it challenging to align your distaste for governmental intervention with your support of governmental financing.
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Re: Building codes

Post by Phil Blampied on Fri Nov 14, 2008 2:02 pm

No, insurance codes are in place when you buy your house. If you don't get insurance, you don't get a mortgage. The current spate of newly-stiffened code inspections is a change in the rules of the game. The town, by choosing now suddenly to strictly enforce the fire code, has caused the possibility of great expense to landlords which may drive some of them to abandon their buildings. We, as the town, are not responsible for the ups and downs of insurance codes. We are responsible, ultimately, for what our town officials are doing with the code enforcement situation.

You raise false issues. The buildings now threatened by the fire code are not "past the point of repair". They're actually quite okay, but are now being forced to jibe with new standards that weren't in place for many many years.

You accuse me of having a "distaste for government intervention", which is a big assumption and a false one. I am only opposed to government regulation with more adverse than positive consequences, such as the fire code as currently being applied in Rumford. Not any fire code, and maybe not even the Fire and Life Safety Code if applied with common sense, but not applied in such a way as to turn parts of Rumford into a ghost town.

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Re: Building codes

Post by C on Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:06 pm

Can you give us an example of "great expense" to the landlords? I've not seen any indication of consequences as dire as you've been predicting. I don't think the town should be expected to hand-hold these landlords. The current eviction situation is just foolhardy on the part of the landlord. Landlords are a private business owner, in many businesses there are changes in laws, licensing requirements and procedures that can cost the owner money. I think some of these landlords are trying to threaten the town with all these potentially homeless people in order to not have to spend the money for what I consider reasonable issues.
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Re: Building codes

Post by Timeout on Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:27 pm

Phil, not so with insurance. I went without insurance for a period of time because the 200 year old barn attached to the house suddenly was no longer supposed to be attached. lalala...I paid for over a year for what is called "fire insurance", meaning that the only one who makes out is the mortgage holder and only if the house burns to the ground. Finally found a carrier through a major amount of effort and expense.

Also, I didn't accuse you of anything...I said your thinking was challening, which indeed it is to me...lol...
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Re: Building codes

Post by Timeout on Fri Nov 14, 2008 7:30 pm

Phil Blampied wrote:You raise false issues. The buildings now threatened by the fire code are not "past the point of repair". They're actually quite okay, but are now being forced to jibe with new standards that weren't in place for many many years.

How do you see asking if we need codes to keep buildings from getting past the point of repair as raising a false issue?

Phil, just so you know where I'm coming from with my false issues and accusations, I've been hired by a structural engineering firm from Las Vegas that wants to tear down all the historical buildings in Rumford and build high rise complexes so that I can have a place to unload my surplus concrete and rebar stash instead of paying a dumping fee...sigh...if I can undermine the economic development of Rumford as revenge for not supporting my casino project, all the better. Now you know the rest of the story...don't tell anyone.
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Re: Building codes

Post by KevinNSaisi on Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:26 pm

Timeout,
Congratulations on the new job Smile
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Re: Building codes

Post by Phil Blampied on Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:15 am

C wrote:Can you give us an example of "great expense" to the landlords? I've not seen any indication of consequences as dire as you've been predicting. I don't think the town should be expected to hand-hold these landlords.

I have not been personally involved in the code problem, so I don't know anyone's specific numbers. But in general, you have buildings with a valuation of $30,000 to $40,000, and fire code upgrades being asked for which would cost $20,000 to $30,000. And when the upgrades are done, they have little impact on the building's value. The building would STILL be worth only $30 to $40k. In some cases, the landlord may have personal money, but runs the specific building as a business and would shut it down once the business was forced deep into the red by such additional expenses. In other cases, you have landlords who just don't have that money, so they, too, would abandon their buildings.

How can we solve this problem? Getting a grant to help lower the financial impact would be the most direct solution possible. It is spending public money on private property, but it is still in the community's interest. It is a reasonable extension of the public safety expenditures of the town. 1) It spares the town the eventual demolition cost. 2) It spares the town the costs associated with the blight of abandoned buildings (crack dens, anyone?) 3) It fulfills the town's responsibility to those renters who will now live in a more fire-safe building, and saves them from losing their apartments should the building be shut down - housing and fire prevention are legitamate areas of municipal government action 4) it preserves the property tax income the town gets from the building.

These grants are not painless. The landlord must grant a lien on the property that if they sell in the near future, the grant money is refunded (five to ten year liens). They must also sign an agreement not to evict the tenants for higher-paying tenants once the improvements are made. And they would actually pay for most of the work themselves. The grant would work on a 50-50 or 60 (landlord) - 40 (grant) basis.

I was amazed at how encouraging the state was about our possibility for getting this grant. This is a rare opportunity to tackle one of our most pressing problems.

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Re: Building codes

Post by C on Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:54 pm

buildings with a valuation of $30,000 to $40,000, and fire code upgrades being asked for which would cost $20,000 to $30,000


I guess I'm just not getting WHAT could cost them that much money. If they need to spend even half the amount that the building is worth to bring an existing building with no change of use up to code perhaps it should be condemned and perhaps it would be doing the community a service.
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Re: Building codes

Post by Phil Blampied on Sat Nov 15, 2008 2:26 pm

Structural reconfigurations. Pull box alarm systems. Three story fire escapes. Hard wired smoke detectors wherever need in the building. I'm not an expert, but I'd start there.

I know we're not talking about commercial buildings, but they are pushing hard for sprinkler systems in many of those. A recent estimate for the Penalty Box was $25,000, just for the sprinkler system. You will notice it hasn't re-opened.

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Re: Building codes

Post by C on Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:52 pm

I've not seen any multi-unit apartment buildings listed for the valuation range you gave. Let's use the yellow apt. building on Main Ave. next to the school as an example: With its basement apartments it would be considered a 4 story building. It should already have hard wired detectors as most insurance companies enforced that a few years ago. It has a back stairway so it may not need an additonal fire escape. This new town code requires pull boxes in an apartment building over 3 stories- which makes perfect sense to me. This landlord has a choice- put in pull boxes or become a 3 story building- I think (not sure) they could lower the ceilings on the basement level thus making them not suitable for renting. (I don't think the basement apts. have more than one ingress/egress so they may not be legal anyhow) Are the local building codes (if we have any) accessible online? I think the minimum ceiling height is around 7 feet. The potential long term loss of rent income vs. code compliance costs would be at the discretion of the building owner.

Many of these things such as hard wired detectors can't soley be blamed upon the adopted building code. There have been big changes with the insurance companies in the last few years. An apartment building requires a commercial insurance policy. Even if the town didn't require some of these things a new commercial building owner (such as the Penalty Box) would find that they were required in order to have an insurance policy.

Many of these codes are also dependent on the usage of the building. A retail store may not need a sprinkler system, a restaurant with a kitchen would. I think also anticipated capacity may factor into it also. A restaurant or bar would have a different capacity than retail store or office. Many of these buildings may be cost prohibitive for one use but fine for another. Without renovations some of these buildings may be "grandfathered" for their current use. Maybe it isn't feasible for the Penalty Box to be marketed as a restaurant/lounge.


Last edited by C on Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Building codes

Post by C on Sat Nov 15, 2008 9:28 pm

Maine law allows tenants to "repair and deduct", these evicted tenants may have been able to fix those violations and deduct the cost from their rent.... too late now I guess. I wonder why when JSN listed her link to Pine Tree Legal she didn't impart that info....

http://www.ptla.org/ptlasite/cliented/tenants6.htm
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Re: Building codes

Post by T on Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:09 am

Board gives property owner deadlines for code compliance

By Ann Bryant, Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FARMINGTON - The Board of Selectmen agreed unanimously Tuesday to give a West
Farmington property owner 30 days to devise a plan of action for his
property and 60 days to complete the work.

SJ Link

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Re: Building codes

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