130 Unit Renovation Inspection Schedule

5 Replies

Hello - wanted to get everyone's thoughts on a renovation situation I am currently facing. I have a 130 unit exterior corridor hotel property that is currently being renovated. Specifically, the entire front facade is being replaced - new framing, windows, and doors. I applied for and got the all the necessary permits and the work has started. We did 7 rooms as a "sample" and had each phase of the work inspected by the building inspector - framing, insulation, dry wall, and final c/o. That all passed. But that all also took a long time (20+ days) since we had to schedule formal inspections and wait for the building inspector to come and give his okay at each phase before moving on with the next steps.

Now, since we're doing the exact same work with the exact same contractors in the remaining 120+ rooms, I was hoping we'd be able to breeze through them without the need for formal inspections at each phase. Again, it's literally the same work 120 times over, nothing new. We'd welcome the inspector anytime he'd like to drop in and see what we're doing but want to keep working around the clock without having to wait for inspections before moving on. But the building inspector has been giving us a hard time and insists on inspecting the framing, insulation, dry wall, etc. with the same scrutiny as the "sample" rooms and threatened to get us shut down if we don't follow his schedule. This seemed very impractical to me. 

Anybody have experience with multi-unit renovations and inspections? Is there any way around his nonsensical inspections? This particular building inspector is a third party inspector hired by the township so I am thinking of reaching out to the head engineer of the township with my concern. The longer this renovation takes the more negative implications there are for us and the township (loss of business for us and loss of occupancy taxes for the township). 

Appreciate any help - thanks!

@Arav N. The city's concern is getting the property completed to code. At this stage I doubt the city is worried about quick turn around to collect taxes. 

If this is a third party then that means the city may be overwhelmed and cannot keep up with the construction occurring or this works out better for their staff. Either way, you should have enquired when the sample mock ups were completed as to the remaining construction. Having it in writing goes along way. It seems as though you assumed things would go smoother after mock up but never asked specifically or got it in writing. 

I'd advise to contact the township and talk it out. Don't make demands with them or the third party. They can make things very difficult for you. I deal with inspector in NYC and Westchester County and you tread lightly and sometimes you can't do anything about it. 

I worked for State of XXXX reviewed design and issue permits if they are compliant.  One day a developer stormed into State building shouting obscenity at officials.  Hey, I got $XXX million dollars tied up I got City permit now I find I need State permit. I want it now! The permit engineering manager wanted to have nothing to do with these developers. Upon review design several weeks later they found flaws that need to be redesigned and resubmitted. They built it without a permit and enforcement compliance stopped operating the entire development.  It needs to be redone. The last thing I would do is antagonize the inspection dept. They can do you a disservice. You go there with your schedule and asked them to see if the inspection schedule is realistic.  I suspect they will not be committal.

@Arav N. Set an appointment with the building official (not the inspector) and explain the situation. Some will accept certification from a “design professional” that the work complies with all applicable codes. “Design Professional” usually means an architect or engineer. Then you pay a grand or two for them to certify the work, and you can move forward quickly.

Sometimes it can be better to have a BUFFER between the owner of a project and government officials. Some owners are good at schmoozing  and good will in a certain light to get things approved faster and others are not.

There are liaison types who do cost money but can usually help speed things along. Officials tend to like them and more seems to get done faster.

If you come at officials with vinegar instead of honey they can make your life very difficult and use code and laws you didn't even know existed.

I have done over 100 million in value add renovations and the best advice I can give anyone is "Build Bridges vs. Blowing them up".  

Remember that the city officials, inspectors etc. all have one thing in common, they are human, have to put one pant leg on at a time and only have 24 hours a day to do this.   When you walk into a phone call, meeting etc. with this in mind it sorta makes the large issue silly, I often start meetings this way...to pull everyone out of the legal/expert arena and into....oh we are actually all trying to survive and syndicate a solution together.  

I have a lot of opposition in my market and I always try to go into the negotiations with the goal of building a bridge or at least understanding their bridge.   So this might not sound PC, but take the time to meet with inspector and as silly as it sounds talk about normal things like friends and family.  Build a relationship and then start to work as a team to fix any issues you may have, in your case...timing....   You will be surprised at how much inspectors and city officials want to be acknowledged and not simply seen as the bad guy....in most cases they are not the bad guy....but that is sometimes the perception.  

Simply focus on building a bridge and help them help you.

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