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Why can't the building department just close my open permit?

 By just closing out an open permit, the liability to the County could be in the billions of dollars. For example,  you bought a home in 1995, that has an open roof permit existing before you purchased the home.  It had truss damage and lost its roof during a storm. The previous owner pulled a permit but no inspections were done and now in 2013, the permit is expired.  If the building department now quickly closes the permit administratively and the permit no longer shows up as an open permit, there still has not been inspections to verify that the roof trusses and tile placement meet the current requirements of the SFBC (South Florida Building Code). Well, so far, so good. However, in just a few months the hurricane season starts again and this time your home gets hit with a smaller, but nonetheless, windy storm. Again, there is truss damage and again your tile roof blows off.


During a damage appraisal by your insurance company, it is realized that the trusses were not properly braced and/or the tile were not properly secured. And, to top it all off, the contractor and roofer are no longer in business. Who might you look to for relief? The county! The county implied the work was done to code by virtue of the fact that the permits were (administratively) closed. Yet, the work was not to code. Might you want to sue the county for closing  those permits? 


Are open permits like a lien? 

No. One thing an open permit does not mean is that there is automatically a lien on the property. As of now, there may not be a lien or even a cloud on the title. We were enjoying the benefits of the Amnesty Ordinance, Ordinance 97-107, as an amendment to the South Florida Building Code. The ordinance was established in 1997 as a means to facilitate bringing additions or repairs, which had not been permitted, or where permits were issued but did not receive mandatory inspections, into compliance with the then present Building Code. However, as we are now under a new code; The Florida Building Code, the Amnesty Ordinance ended and the Code Relief Act has been enacted under Section 8-11 of the code of Miami-Dade County Ordinance 02-44. With this ordinance in place, we are again able to close open, expired, building permits as we did under the amnesty ordinance. On the flip side, however, Miami-Dade County has started an aggressive program of issuing notices of violation and fines to those homeowners who have expired building permits on their properties. And the fine for an expired permit is steep: $500 and an order requiring you to cure the violation and close the permit within 30 days or be subject to additional fines of $500 per day. These fines accumulate to over $10,000 at which point liens are imminent.


Is an Open/Expired permit search necessary?


An open/expired permit search should be conducted to ensure that any permits issued in connection with a property have been properly closed.  If open and/or expired permits exist and are not closed prior to closing, these permits become the responsibility of the new owner.  The new owner will be responsible for paying all fees and/or fines and will be forced to complete the pending work.  If the permit is not properly closed, the building department may be able to order the removal of the work on the property.


Be aware that Miami-Dade Building Department records had periods of lost data.  Generally, records have been kept since 1938.  From 1938-1960 the records are almost all on paper.  For those, you'll need to go to the Building Department and request records.  From 1961-1972 no records exist due to microfilm deterioration (instead, you'll need to go to the Property Appriasers office who keeps secondary records).  1973-1989 has partial and difficult to find records as well.  Since 1990, you will find good records, available primarily online.

What is an open or expired permit?

An open permit is a permit that has been issued for work to be performed on a property which has not yet been closed following a final inspection of the work by the applicable municipality or county.  An expired permit is a permit that was issued and never successfully closed.  When a permit is issued, the work must completed within a certain amount of time.  Failure to do so will result in an expired permit.


What is an as-built permit?


An as-built permit is obtained for structures built without proper permits or built with permits that are lacking mandatory inspections and need to be in compliance with the Building Code.  Once the permit is issued, inspections must be requested for all the construction trades utilized in the permit.The building inspector will determine that the construction complies with the building code and issue an as-built certificate.  The as-built certificate represents accurately the condition of the structure.


What happens if I don't comply with a building citation?


Building officials enforce activities that can violate health, safety and the environment.  Building officials first issue a Notice of Violation (citation) and failure to comply may result in fines. Continued failure to comply with the Notice of Violation and failure to pay the fine may result in a lien placed on the property.  Once a lien is placed on the property for failure to comply with the Notice of Violation, additional fines maybe incurred by the property owner which can be up to and over $10,000.  At this point, the municipality may order the demolition or removal of the violating structure or foreclose on the property to satisfy unpaid fines.

What is the difference between product approval and NOA?

The State issued Product Approval indicates that a product is approved for use as a construction material within the State of Florida. But! That approval does not mean that it can be used in a high velocity hurricane zone. There may be an exclusion in that approval that indicates that it is not approved for use in those areas. Those areas just happen to be Miami-Dade, Broward and parts of Palm Beach County.  The Miami-Dade issued Notice of Acceptance, or N.O.A., is specific to the high velocity hurricane zones. You can use and submit the State of Florida Product Approvals but you need to be extra careful that you make sure the product is approved for use in a high velocity hurricane zone. For anyone out side of those areas you can go to Florida Building Code On Line and download the State issued Product Approvals.  For anyone lucky enough to be in the high velocity hurricane zone you can go to Miami-Dade Product Control to download the N.O.A.’s you need.


What is a class II permit?


The City of Miami has designated areas of the City as “Special Districts”. Some of these districts overlap. You can go to their website and view the zoning map which indicates the special districts but it will probably give you a headache looking at it and trying to figure out if you need to apply for a Class II Permit. The reality is that if what you are doing is downtown, along the Biscayne Boulevard corridor, in Coconut Grove, along Coral Way or along Southwest 8th Street, it probably requires a Class II Permit. It is necesary to visit the City of Miami Zoning Department and review the location and scope of your project with a Zoning representative.

You need to be aware that a Class II Permit is in addition to the Building Permit and the review process between the two are linked.



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