Another Collapse and Allegations of construction “Without proper permits”

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A reader reports:

“January 26 the remaining structure at 2910 18th Street, NW collapsed at approximate 6 o’clock in evening due to the weight of the snow from the previous storm

Both properties on each side were condemned and families have been living elsewhere since

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The owner of the property (that was financed by Freedom Bank VA)
The Encore Due LLC,
Has been fighting the city and it’s attempt to secure the dangerous and collapsing walls

The single-family dwelling was bought in August 2014
In 1.2015 Was gutted and being prepared for for a 4 unit condo building. Without proper permits

Numerous times had been shut down with stop workorders. However, continued work in defiance leaving those homes exposed to potential collapse”

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14 Comment

  • The problem is that DC does not enforce the building laws. Until that changes we are likely to see more issues like this.

    • It looks like DC did. The developer, OTOH, could not be dissuaded. The neighbors need to figure out who is behind the LLC and find a way to let other people know who these would be Trumps are.

      • HaileUnlikely

        If the owner of the house adjacent to mine tried to dig out the foundation without proper permits and notification to me, I would probably get myself arrested physically impeding the contractors or worse (The GC, anyway – I don’t have any beef with the guys performing the labor, but I’d find the one in charge and make his day suck.)

  • This is terrible. Rule-flouting developers can have serious consequences for adjacent houses, not just for whoever buys their flipped condos.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Serious question – the way the law works with respect to LLCs, do the displaced owners of the adjacent houses have any legal recourse here if the LLC just folds?

    • As someone who is in the middle of a law suite with an LLC over housing fraud/ illegal construction. The answer is yes and no. You can sue them and probably win. But if the LLC folds or claims bankruptcy (which I have been told by both DCRA and many lawyers) then you will not see any money even if you win.

      • Sorry incomplete sentence. I meant to type “which I have been told by both DCRA and many lawyers that they usually do fold once sued.”

        Also, you can try to pierce the veil but it costs a lot of money and time. For those of us who aren’t flush with cash it is prohibitively expensive.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Does a typical homeowners insurance policy cover damage/collapse of your house due to this sort of thing? It honestly never occurred to me to even check. It occurs to me that they might cover it and go after the other owner. But it also occurs to me that it might be one of the many fine-print exclusions.

        • I find it hard to believe that the bank – Freedom Bank VA in this case – did’t ask this person to personally guarantee their business loans.

          In your case, perhaps the person didnt need to secure a biz loan. I feel like if you can boot strap your own business, an LLC offers the most protection. However, if you have to personally guarantee a business loan for an LLC, the creditors have to first exhaust the business assets prior to going after the personal assets of the person who had to personally guarantee the business loan. Thats my understanding of LLC protection. could be wrong tho.

        • What is involved in piercing the veil? Why is it so expensive?

    • No legal recourse. We hired a LLC for a renovation, and when it declared bankruptcy before the project was completely done, we got no refunds and no warranty work.

  • Hopefully the owner of the LLC will be found personally liable and be forced to pay all damages.

  • Collapses usually happen when an owner is underpinning the walls, i.e., excavating deeper, necessitating the pouring of a new foundation beneath the existing bearing walls. This requires a permit, but is sometimes done without. I think that they happen more often happen after a permit is issued, when the work is not performed according to the permit (i.e., with the proper sequencing of excavation and pouring of footings). In haste, and typically to save money, too much earth is removed beneath the walls, destabilizing them.

    So, it’s not entirely clear how the permitting might solve the problems. Conceivably, one might require a licensed engineer to supervise the work and be held responsible for it. That’s costly, of course.

    Larger penalties could be levied, but then you get into the argument about who or what was responsible, plus sympathy for an owner who has just destroyed their own property.

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