Three Family Firecoding Questions

6 Replies

So, I have found myself in a pickle.  I have a three family investment property under contract in Providence that I did not make subject to seller providing firecode compliance.  Why would I do this?  Because Providence allowed wireless systems, which were inexpensive (about $1300) and easy/quick to get approved and installed.  

After the fact, I come to learn that Providence has reversed its decision on wireless.  No more.  I have a no-contingency closing scheduled for 5/27, though I am getting financing.  So, here are my questions:

1) Does any know an electrician who can get a 3 family fire system approved and installed in 3 weeks, or

2) Does anyone know of a lender that will close on a three family investment property before it is firecode compliant, maybe escrow so that system can be installed within 60 days of closing?

3) If the latter, does anyone know what I can expect as far as a cost for insurance on property that is not fire code compliant, which will also be delivered vacant as I am doing upgrades to the units prior to re-renting?


@Nelson Taylor I don't have any answers to your questions - I wish I could give you one for #1 but all the good contractors I know are so busy that I'd hesitate to say any could definitely do it in that time frame.

However, in case no one else responds, I wanted to offer the idea that you could also try to the state fire marshal's office. I remember hearing, and I admit this was a number of years ago, that due to the overlapping patchwork of regulations, which sometimes meant even different people within the same local office would interpret/enforce things differently, that some investors had better luck asking or getting an inspection from the state fire marshal.

I know it's a long shot, and that information might have changed since I heard it, but I thought there was a small chance it could be helpful anyway.

Coastway (which is now part of  HarborOne) was pretty great as a lender for doing something unconventional for me. It doesn’t hurt to see if a local portfolio lender could be flexible. Tight timeline to craft a creative solution that requires some bank committee/board approval could be tough though. 

Best flexibility w/tight deadline would likely come from instead finding a hard money lender at high rates to kite you for the few months it’ll take to get place on a conventional mortgage. 

On #3 - OceanPoint Insurance is great. They quoted me rates that we half of other carriers & they were very responsive/quick w/quote. 

@Nelson Taylor I've purchased 3 family buildings in the past without the smoke certification. Usually the lender will hold some amount in escrow for 60 days until the certification has been given.  I'd suggest talking with the lender you are working with and the title company of choice to see if this can be setup.  

Nelson, I know you saw this response in the other forum we are both members of, but copying it here since it was a good answer to your question, for anyone who finds this thread in the future when researching a similar question:

"I am a licensed General Contractor and Licensed Electrician. I regret to inform you that there is no way around that issue. The AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) has the final say. Due to the fact that batteries go bad and wireless systems can get frequency interruptions, hard wired systems are the most reliable and desired by fire marshals and Inspectors. I have hardly ever had an inspector allow just wireless systems."

(excerpted from a longer post someone else wrote on a different, but still Rhode Island-based, forum)

The RI State Fire Marshall will provide a general guideline and minimum code, however each city and town varies with their individual enforcement above and beyond the minimum state mandated code.  Having said that, it will vary from town to town and city to city.  Anthony is correct with regard to his comment about the Authority Having Jurisdiction.  

What is allowed in some circumstances is a waiver allowing a dispensation for a period of time allowing the property owner to to bring the property into compliance.  If you are pressed for time, and are unable to get this rectified by the closing, a credit may be applied, a dispensation can be signed and attached with a quote from a licensed professional, or money can be held in escrow until the work has been completed.  There are a few ways to perform a work around, to get the property closed, but ultimately work will need to be performed.  I regularly sign a waiver buying in lieu of a smoke cert.  

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