DCRA deck inspections?

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Topic: DCRA deck inspections?

Home and Garden May 1, 2013 at 3:20 pm

DCRA deck inspections?


I understand that you must get a permit from DCRA to build a deck in DC. However, I am getting conflicting information about whether inspections are truly required.  Although DCRA’s position is that inspections are required, there doesn’t appear to be any repercussions if you never get the inspections.  There also doesn’t appear to be any clear information about which inspections you need (and when). The only downside I can see is that you can’t get a COA (certificate of occupancy), which you don’t need if it is a single family home.
I know people who properly permitted and built decks years ago (themselves), but never got them inspected.  Is this something that can come back to bite me in the future if I don’t get it inspected (but do have the proper permit and build everything to code)?
I’d be interested in hearing about anyone’s practical experience in this area…

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Why wouldn’t you get it inspected?

Why wouldn’t you get it inspected?  Because 1. Who has the greatest investment in the deck? The homeowner. 2. Who has the greatest motivation to build it structurally sound?  The homeowner.  3. Who is able to access the exact same building codes as DCRA?  The homeowner.  What is the most dysfunctional agency in the city?  DCRA.

I did have my deck permitted and inspected.  It was a multi-stage process that required inspection in order to move forward.  After digging the post holes, they came to inspect.  I can’t remember if there was one more inspection or two, but it wasn’t a big deal – you just called the morning of the day you wanted an inspection, and they came and gave you a green card to move forward. 
 I can’t see the reason to get a permit, but not an inspection.  Once you apply for the permit, they know you are building, and where, and one of their inspectors can stop by anyway.  And the permit expires after a time, so I think that the DCRA database will show that you applied for a permit, but never received approval for the structure.  I found the permitting process way more burdensome than the inspection process.  Some people skip the entire process.  You risk getting caught and given a stop work order and a fine, or could face issues once you want to sell.  Not to mention that the whole process is for your own protection.  I can see why people go for an all or nothing approach, but don’t really see an upside to your half-way option.

Go to the Homeowners center at the DCRA.  They will walk you through the process.  I agree with DCHS though… permitting can suck, inspections are easy.  

so, um, what are these issues one could face once one wants to sell?

DCRA has made it pretty easy to look up whether permits were pulled for a particular address.  Savvy home buyers know this, and can determine whether work on a newly updated home was permitted.  Do most people do it?  No, especially in a hot market.  But because the process is now simpler, there is a risk.

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