“Does DC or DCRA ever penalize developers who submit plans with these types of violations, if so, how?”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Miki J.

“Dear Popville,

A developer with a sketchy track record on Capitol Hill plans to build an 18-unit/5-story condo building on a lot occupied by a single family row-house near us. It’s zoned C-2-A so if they adhere to code, I believe it’s permissible.

But neighbors found that the developer submitted plans designed by an unlicensed individual claiming specifically to be an architect. The professional engineer who stamped the architect’s plans is operating on a license revoked in another state…for repeatedly stamping his seal on plans he didn’t oversee.

Is this a crime? Does DC or DCRA ever penalize developers who submit plans with these types of violations, if so, how?”

8 Comment

  • First, contact DCRA about it. I emailed them and the interim director personally emailed me back (on a different issue). Keep a paper trail. Also tweet them so others can see.

    Alongside or after this, contact Aaron Weiner at the City Paper (he writes the Housing Complex blog), and maybe someone at the Post. Get your ANC commissioner involved, too.

    At every step, specifically ask how the developer and architect will be penalized.

  • pablo .raw

    I don’t think there is a problem if the unlicensed individual designs the building according to the codes; I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need to sign or stamp the plans. But I believe the signatures and stamps of Structural, Electrical and Mechanical engineers are required. DCRA reviewers are pretty good at making sure that everything is up to code and so are the inspectors.

  • This is for 1511 A St NE and previously the neighbors complained loudly about the plans here and even got it written up in the Post. Of course the proposed plans comply with the C-2-A zoning that the land has had for almost 50 years (And is the reason places like the Car Barn, the Cupboard, and the like exist in the first place) but that didn’t stop the scaremongering.

    On a related note, I have some underutilized C-2-A zoning next to my house that I would love for a developer to come in and build this building.

    • I wouldn’t say the plans ‘comply’ if the PE/EIC’s license is revoked. that’s a public safety threat.

      • The proposed plans comply with the zoning. That’s all I’m saying. I have no idea if the actual structural plans are up to code. But note that’s not what OP was saying. They were just saying that the person who submitted the plan has a less than scrupulous history.

        Here’s the Hill Rag story, which gives a great history:


        • pablo .raw

          If you take a look at a building application, you’ll see that the architect’s information is optional; what is not optional is if “plans are certified by an engineer”. So I don’t think it matters if the architect is licensed. One of the typical comments from MEP reviewers is that plans should be stamped and signed by a licensed (in DC) engineer. If part of the design is not according to code, reviewers will catch it.

  • are you talking about the plan that was discussed here a few weeks (months?) back- taking an existing rowhouse and adding on to it in every possible direction, keeping only the porch/facade? if so, they mentioned this in the august edition of hill rag, under the notes from the various ANCs. looks like this is slowly getting more attention…the ANC is none too pleased with the ‘architect’ and apparently there are also lot of inaccuracies with the drawing that would effect the height of the building.

  • Pablo.raw, the problem is that practicing architecture without a license is a class I civil infraction under Title 16 of the DC Municipal Regulations. The fine is $2,000 for the first offense and escalates to $16,000 for multiple offenses. Its also potentially dangerous to occupants of the building and to adjacent residents.

    Despite the obvious health, welfare and safety hazards of unlicensed persons practicing architecture, there is no enforcement in the District and the regulations are routinely flaunted, as are basic provisions of the zoning regulations and fundamental life safety provisions of the construction code.

Comments are closed.