QDEAR BARRY: Construction was recently completed on our new home, but the building official would not approve the final inspection. He says an as-built permit is now needed before major corrective work can be done. The builder, we have now learned, failed to follow the plans that were engineered and approved by the county building department. He contends that he is required to comply with the building code only, not the specific standards determined by the engineer and the county. Is there any validity to his position? -- Lauren
ADear Lauren: Your builder is out of step with the realities of building code enforcement. There is an established hierarchy in the determination of construction standards, and building officials are at the top of that pecking order. Theirs is the last word in the administration of building requirements. What they say, goes.
The building code, on the other hand, is merely a minimum standard. When the building official approves a set of plans and the engineering specifications it contains, that is the standard to which the structure must be built.
Your builder has set himself above the law. If he won't comply with mandates set forth by the building official, you should file a complaint with the state agency that licenses contractors. I hope you haven't paid the final installment for the construction.
DEAR BARRY: I was sitting in my family room, when the inside pane in my sliding glass door suddenly shattered. At first, I thought it had been struck from the outside, but the screen door was undamaged and the outside pane was still intact. The two-year builder's warranty on the home expired last month. Do I have recourse with the builder or the glass door manufacturer? -- Lowell
DEAR LOWELL: The glass panes in doors are made of tempered safety glass. Tempered glass is produced by subjecting plate glass to a special heating process. This causes the glass to shatter into tiny square-edged bits if there's an accident, such as when someone walks through a glass door. Glass that is not tempered breaks into large pieces that are sharp and pointed and can cause serious injury.
The disadvantage of tempered glass is that any slight scratch, crack or even stress along an edge can cause the pane to explode. Whether the manufacturer or builder will take responsibility now that your warranty has expired is uncertain. It they do, it should be accepted as an expression of good will, rather than an obligation.
Barry Stone is a professional home inspector. If you have questions or comments, contact him through his Web site, www.housedetective.com, or send mail to 1776 Jami Lee Ct., Suite 218, San Luis Obispo, Calif. 93401.
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