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The Critical Eye!

Michael Leavitt’s professional inspection related blog.

FLIPPER ALERT - Email To The Orem City Building Official

FLIPPER ALERT - Email To The Orem City Building Official

I felt it important to keep this blog thread going about the home being flipped here in Orem, Utah that is currently a very good looking 1944 home, but unsafe. This is the home that shocked me (CLICK HERE TO READ). I felt it important to personally discuss the situation with the Chief Building Official here in Orem. “Who is that?” you ask. Well I did not know either. So I put together a 1-page summary detailing the prime issues present in the home as the result of the lack of using licensed professionals and failure to pull the legally required building permits. Then I headed down to the Orem City Offices and found out the Mr. Bill Bell was in a meeting. I then asked, “Is it a quick meeting, the type that lasts all day, or the type that extends the 3-day weekend even further?” It sounded like a reasonable question, but the kind lady did not fully appreciate my sense of humor. With that, I left the paper with the details (see farther down this entry) and said that I would really appreciate a call back once Mr. Bell had a few minutes free to talk.

I came back to my home office and drafted the following email to follow-up my visit...

Bill Bell:

I stopped by your office earlier today to discuss an important and time sensitive situation dealing with a home being flipped here in Orem that is currently back on the market as a For Sale By Owner. You and I have never met, but I have been an independent home inspector servicing Northern Utah for the last 18 years. I have never turned in an address to a building department in all those years, but I am rethinking that approach. I feel that we (the building departments and the independent home inspectors) should have a symbiotic relationship and work together to make Orem a safer place for our renters and home buyers of whose lives are being put at risk by property flippers that are making a buck while breaking the law, side-stepping the building permit process, and having unlicensed professionals doing their major renovation work.

WHY NOW?: I was zapped pretty good during my late Friday afternoon inspection and I walked away knowing that something had to be done. I have no authority to do anything, and the end loser will be the buyer of the home, and if it results in a fire, then the neighbors and the emergency service personnel.

I would love to meet with you for a few minutes, in person, so that I can put a name with a face and so that we can discuss the issues and your feelings about my role in the big scheme of things as it relates with trying to make our city’s housing stock safer.

Respectfully, Michael Leavitt

Here is the 1-page list of issues that I left at the Orem City Building Department...


I also wanted to share that I was most impressed with the list of responsibilities stated on the Orem City website. It syates:

The Building Division is responsible for:

  • Enforcing adopted building codes and standards to protect life and property of those who work, live, or visit the City of Orem

  • Approving plans and issuing permits for all new construction, additions, demolitions, remodeling, fences, retaining walls, pools, etc.

  • Making routine and scheduled inspections during each phase of construction. (City Inspectors)

  • Enforcing State licensing laws for contractors, engineers, and architects.
  • Conducting business-license inspections.

  • Abatement of dangerous buildings and structures

  • Serving as staff advisor to the Board of Building and Fire Code Appeals.

Our staff is always willing to discuss interpretations of the codes, corrections that have been written, and background and reasons behind code regulations. We are constantly learning from contractors, consider them a valuable source of expertise, and encourage their input and suggestions. If you would like to come into our office, we are located at the City Center at 56 North State Street, Suite 105, Orem.  Our business hours are 7:30 AM - 5:30 PM, Monday through Thursday and Fridays 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM.

After reading their pledge I am looking forward to my conversation with Bill Bell. Make it a great day! Michael Leavitt - Orem, Utah - - Michael Leavitt & Co Inspections, Inc.



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