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Inspector Helps Colorado City Homeowners Comply with Codes

September 11th, 2009

A qualified home inspector can help homeowners in Fort Collins, Colorado comply with city multifamily housing standards.

Across the city, many homeowners have converted their single-family homes into rental duplexes or have added rental spaces by converting their basements or garages into dwelling units without obtaining the needed permits and without complying with building codes.

These homeowners did not apply for multifamily building permits partly because of the high development permit fees which can reach $15,000 per unit and partly because of the high costs of complying with multifamily building standards.

To help these homeowners, the city of Fort Collins has launched an amnesty program waiving the costly development fees and requiring only fees of between $200 to $400.

The main goal of the program, which ends on June 15, 2011, is to ensure that all houses across the city meet health, habitability and safety standards and to lessen the financial burden of compliance.

According to Mike Gebo, chief of the Fort Collins Building Department, the first thing homeowners need to do is to check the city zoning maps or call the zoning office if multifamily uses are allowed in their areas.

If multifamily housing is allowed, the next thing they should do is to hire a house inspector to help them check if their multifamily housing is up to city building standards and to tell them what they should do to comply with the standards.

House inspection is essential because it facilitates the process of getting the certificate of occupancy under the amnesty program. When the city inspector conducts his own building inspection, all he needs to do is to ensure that the housing is compliant with codes and then gives the approval for the issuance of the certificate of occupancy.

Among the things that the city inspector will examine and that multifamily housing owners will correct are basement bedrooms without egress windows, use of a single air furnace to supply heat to two separate units, problems with electrical and plumbing systems and inadequate heating, ventilation and kitchen facilities.

For homeowners who made units for rental housing in neighborhoods not zoned for multifamily uses, they need to convert back their properties into single-family housing units.

For owners of housing units that were converted into duplexes when previous zoning laws allowed their conversion, homeowners need to show the city inspector old rental receipts, lease agreements, tax returns or other documents that can prove that the duplexes were constructed in compliance with laws.

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