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  #1  
Old 05-23-09, 11:50 AM
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Permits

Just saw an episode of Holmes on Homes....

Would anyone in their right mind have a $25000 remodel/addition done without permits for electrical, structural, sheetrock, etc....jeez.

Are we supposed to feel sorry for people that are that dumb?

Any of you contractor pros ever run into someone that doesn't want to pay for permits?
 
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Old 05-23-09, 12:52 PM
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I haven't seen that episode yet, it's waiting for me on my DVR while I cruise the 'net.

BUT, since it is normally the contractor's job to obtain the permits and schedule the inspections I think it would definitely be conceivable that a homeowner wouldn't know about the necessity of having permits and inspections. Also, for a large job it is certainly conceivable that the homeowner simply handed the keys to the contractor and then went on vacation, not returning until the job was finished.

I've also known some reputable contractors that don't get permits for certain jobs because of the holier-than-thou attitudes of certain inspectors in some jurisdictions. These same contractors absolutely do the work in accordance with the applicable codes but refuse to deal with the little napoleons.
 
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Old 05-23-09, 01:15 PM
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GG, that's the one where the contractor added 20 jboxes in the attic, then finished over all of them.
I got one question. On all the "home" shows they brag on the cost/savings on each project. Holmes never mentions the cost. Is his work pro bono, or charity, or paid for by the network? Seems the people he has been helping needs it worse than those who just have a whim for remodeling a basement. We just started having it in our area, but I enjoy it. Man, I'd love to have a bottomless pocketbook!!
 
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Old 05-23-09, 01:15 PM
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Yeah, I get the last part of your post. After you see the episode..post back and tell me how you feel about the homeowners though.
 
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Old 05-23-09, 02:55 PM
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Chandler, I wonder the same thing. I asked the question on the HGTV forum and never got a satisfactory answer. I think in some cases there is government money and perhaps in other cases there is some insurance or performance bond money but it seems to me that Mike Holmes always goes far beyond code minimums and also includes far more than simply repairing the original mistakes. Money is almost never discussed and I can't see where the homeowners would have the necessary funds to cover the botched original job and then the cost of the Mike Holmes repairs.

Gunguy, I just watched the program and I agree that the homeowners were worse than ignorant, they were just plain stupid. It's one thing to trust the contractor (to a point) it's another thing to simply put complete faith in the contractor when everything is screaming that what is being done is wrong.
 
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Old 05-23-09, 03:13 PM
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Per Wiki Holmes on Homes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



Because of the show being a television series, costs for the homeowners, who are likely to be strapped for cash due to the previous contractors' mistakes and/or frauds, are kept to a minimum (10% to 20% of the cost of repair). Some contractors hired on the show have even donated time, materials, and labor to help homeowners in need. The remainder of the work is funded by the TV production company (and indirectly, through the Canadian government, by tax credits), but in some cases, Mike Holmes personally contributes funds towards the repairs
 
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Old 05-23-09, 03:13 PM
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My boss does do the occasional deck, bathroom, whatever. I help with the labor as well as cleaning the theater. We did one deck in a beach community where the homeowner said (insert expletive here) the permits. the customer is supposedly always right so we catered to his wishes, but we didn't fudge the job either. We did it to code. I kind of wonder how some of the building inspectors breathe in my area since they seem to have their heads where the sun doesn't shine.
 
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Old 05-23-09, 03:16 PM
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Well..NOP..yer boss is a dumb(insert expletive here). He's opening himself up to all sorts of problems.

JMO of course
 
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Old 05-23-09, 04:26 PM
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Thanks, Gunguy, I should have checked the Wiki.


As for contractors doing work without permits...it really depends upon what work is being done and the "climate" for permits. In urban areas it is almost impossible these days to get away with non-permitted work unless one does it themself AND it can't be seen, i.e. it is indoor work. Some jurisdictions have people just cruising the streets looking for a pile of construction materials or a truck with a company name and when they find it they check to see if a permit has been issued.

It is also amazing, at least to me, on how far some jurisdictions go in requiring a permit. Where I previously lived it was necessary to have a permit to re-roof a house. The salesman for the company that did my roof said he had never heard of a permit being needed for a re-roof but I made him insert it in the contract that the company was liable for any permits. Sure enough, they had just completed the first day when the building inspector slapped a stop work order on the job for not having a permit. That city also required permits for any fencing and any interior remodeling.

Nor is is it true as often these days that the city just wants the revenue from the permits. The cost to staff the permit office and employ plan checkers and field inspectors often exceeds the revenue generated by the permits on smaller jobs, which are probably the majority of jobs for which permits are issued. It is now a matter of liability and if someone gets hurt or killed due to some structure not being built to code the local building department can be named as a co-defendant in any court action.

Another thing is that more and more when it comes time to sell your house there will be a requirement to list all construction that has taken place during the time that you have owned the building. You will have to state if permits were obtained and if inspections were made. If not, you might have trouble selling the place unless/until proper inspections have taken place and any fines paid.
 
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Old 05-23-09, 05:07 PM
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I agree with Furd, the couple was playing with a deck of 51. From the episodes I have seen, this one was the least "deserving". The little lady in the wheelchair got stiffed, and it appeared to rile Mike a little. I liked that.
In my business (remodeling, repair and restoration), I seldom have to apply for permits. If I change the footprint, spend a certain amount of money, or restructure a part of the building into new living spaces (remodeling basements), I have to permit it. Installing hardwood floors, windows, doors, and other minor things, no permit is required in our area. For the most part, the owners permit the remodel themselves, since it will require HVAC, electrical, plumbing and other trades that require specialty licensing.
I live close to the NC border, so some of my work takes me there. I see the inspector nearly every day. Once he stopped me to ask where I was working and what I did. I told him and he even visited although permits were in order. We hit it off pretty good, and now he just waves. My premise is, do it right all the time.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Any of you contractor pros ever run into someone that doesn't want to pay for permits?
Around my parts, the roll-off dumpster police make their rounds, and nab contractors that way. Actually, I think all they do is get the records from the roll-off box provider, but I'm not sure on that.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 09:22 AM
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Once was working on a job site that had multiple city inspectors descend on it probably because of an angry plumber whose bid had been rejected. But that wasn't the real dark humor of it. While doing the inspection they caught a glimpse of the house next door. A house that was occupied and just been freshly painted. They condemned it on the spot and revoked the occupancy certificate. Just never know.

(Got to admit the house was in bad shape. The painters had just painted over rotten wood and the garage made the Tower of Pisa look plumb.)
 
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Old 05-24-09, 03:03 PM
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That deck job I mentioned about the customer not wanting permits was about 6 years ago and we never heard from him again. The boss being a dumb **** is another story entirely, such as not always having enough in the account to cover payroll, but having checks to cover shortfall in his pocket, but had to stop for a beer or two. This has happened at least twice even after allowing him a couple hours to make the deposit.
 
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Old 05-24-09, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
(Got to admit the house was in bad shape. The painters had just painted over rotten wood and the garage made the Tower of Pisa look plumb.)
.

They had to partially straighten up the leaning Tower, you know, out of fear it was ready to fall over. However, they had to leave it just the right amount of crooked in order to draw tourists. You can read the brief article about it here in a technical site:

Leaning Tower of Pisa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Then scroll down to "History Following Construction" subtitle, which is down several paragraphs on that site.
 
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Old 05-27-09, 02:15 PM
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In my 30 years of home ownership, I've never gotten a building permit from the city. In that time frame, I've replaced roofs, wood privacy fences, three water heaters, and two furnaces/central A/C systems. This work was all done by contractors, no DIY here. The contractors were licensed, but since they were all from out of town, I don't know if they were licensed in my town.

One huge reason I haven't bothered with obtaining building permits is that I live in a very small town with one "building inspector" who typically is the lowest on the totem pole of city employees. The current posted salary for our lone building inspector is $9.60/hour. You can guess what credentials you get for that money! The previous building inspector was a wastewater plant employee that was fired from an adjoining town, and hired by my town as a courtesy to keep him employed until he was eligible for retirement in three years.

I have a lot more faith in my contractor knowing how to do a job properly than the local "building inspector" who is in that position because he has been booted out of every other position he worked in with the city. And frankly, considering the quality of some of our city employees, I really don't want them in my house, poking around "inspecting". I'm sure larger communities have quality building inspection departments, but in many small towns like mine, the building permit is nothing more than a way for the town to generate a few bucks more revenue.
 
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Old 05-27-09, 06:01 PM
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I've got about two years more of home ownership than Beachboy and I have only obtained permits on three occasions. The first was when I upgraded the electrical service to my home and I got the permit because I felt (correctly) that the power company would not make the connection without the permit. As it turned out the "inspector" was thoroughly unqualified and made the first inspection from the street; he just drove by and then called the power company and told them it was approved. The power company field engineer, however, wanted a "back stay" on the mast to counter the pull exerted by the overhead drop wire.

I had stayed home from work that day to meet with the city electrical inspector and yet he never presented himself. I noted to the power company engineer that the city inspector had not signed the permit and he remarked, "Oh, all they want is the money." My wife, however, insisted that I call the inspector and demand that he sign the permit. BAD ADVICE!

I called and the inspector did come out. He then proceeded to find all sorts of little problems and requested that I make the corrections. After he left I called the power company engineer and he said the inspector had called him to stop any new connection. I had a long talk with the engineer (we had the same last name although not related) and he said what the inspector was demanding was NOT code required BUT that he (the inspector) could make life difficult so I was best to comply. It took another two weeks until I got that inspector off my back and he never did sign the permit.


My next permitted job was a natural gas line in my parent's house. Again I thought it would be necessary to have the signed permit before the gas company would make the final connection. I was wrong in that case as the gas company came and set the meter leaving me with instructions on making the final connection and were gone before the inspector showed up. By the time he showed up I had left for work. All the inspector was interested in was that the pressure gauge I had installed was reading a positive pressure and was in working order. My dad almost had to physically drag the inspector into the basement to look at the work and to determine that the valve had the AGA emblem. As with my electrical inspector this man had to be forced into signing the permit.


My final experience was when I enclosed my carport to make it a garage. This work was done over a period of years and it was about three-quarters done when I received a certified letter from the city asking how dare I enclose the carport without first getting a building permit. I called a contractor friend and he stated that if I helped his man the cost would be about $900. including the extension required to make the garage long enough as I had previously taken about four feet of the carport for a utility room. I made up some drawings and submitted them for approval. Long story short, the city stated it was $3500. of work and assessed a permit fee based upon that figure.

I went ahead and did the work myself but never got a final inspection. It was at least a year after the permit had expired (maybe two years) that I had a door installed. Then, maybe two years after the door installation I received another certified letter from the city that except for the date and signature was a copy of my first letter. It seemed they had no record of the first letter OR the original building permit. I turned this letter over to my lawyer (a young card-carrying Libertarian) and he advised me that it would likely do no good but he would send a letter to the city. In that letter he asked that a copy of the applicable building code be sent him and that all future correspondence on the matter be addressed to him. Neither he nor I ever saw another letter.

I sold that house a few years later. In the listing I had to fill out a "form 17" which disclosed all I know about the property, including any changes in the building. I filled that form honestly and then was able to bypass it all by selling the house "as is". The agent for the buyer stated that he had never seen a form 17 filled out in such detail and commended me on my honesty.

Since moving to my current home I have done a fair amount of plumbing and electrical work without the benefit of permits. When I had my furnace replaced the contractor specifically told me that he didn't take out permits in my city due to the bad blood between my city's inspector and his company. I might add that this company had been in business for some eighty years and was highly regarded. I also had my roof replaced and although a permit was included in the bid price I never saw the permit.

Since I plan to die in this home I am not concerned about what problems may occur in selling it at a future date. So while I often preach about obtaining a permit before doing any work I don't follow my own advice.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 12:34 PM
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Many years ago (circa 1980) the house next door to me was sold. To give you an idea how bad it was it was renting for $15 a month. The only working utility was gas. Electric had been disconnected for many years. The renter used kerosene lamps and ice chests. Hey for $15/month what do you expect

The new owner hired a master electrician to get the electric up and working. Each time the inspector would find some minor problem, a switch a couple of inches too high to suit him. or some such Most were not NEC violations. The electrician was doing the changes for free and pulling his hair out. To this day I think the inspector was really looking at his palm each time and not seeing what he expected.

Of course each time it took a month are two to schedule inspection and the interior walls couldn't go up till it passed. The new owners were out of money and desperate by that time. They had to move in with no interior walls and the only electric from an extension cord to my house.

I guess the inspector finally gave up checking his palm and approved it the fifth time. But that isn't the punch line. The next day the gas company came out and pulled the gas meter. They claimed it was more then ten years old whatever that meant. They wanted $300 to put in a new one. Coincidence this came a day after the electric inspector finally gave up and approved the electric...hmm?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 04:07 PM
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I guess we all have horror stores, so here's one: My uncle bought 4 moderate sized frame houses in a declining part of Atlanta, near a golf course. His monthly payment was around $250 each. Well, the government came in and offered him $600 a month for Section 8 housing. He jumped on it. The only thing was, he paid me the difference every month in upkeep, fixing stupid stuff. For the most part the occupants couldn't afford both gas and electricity, so they dumped the gas and heated the house with the stove/oven. Yep, 4 eyes WAO, as well as the oven with the door open. Needless to say, by spring it was time for a new stove. I would go into a house to install stop valves in the old sink set ups, and find there was no copper under the house. Punks had come in overnight and cut it all out. Some occupants moved out and took everything......everything. Door knobs (just the knobs), light switch cover plates, toilet seats, cabinet knobs. Glad I moved to the mountains.
Oh, yeah, the golf course wanted to expand and his property was contingent. Sold them for over a mil. Some guys have all the luck.
 

Last edited by chandler; 05-28-09 at 04:09 PM. Reason: add punch line
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Old 05-28-09, 04:12 PM
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How close to your Uncle are ya? Are you going to up and leave us and move to a higher mountain where you can look down on us peons?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 04:52 PM
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Left him in Atlanta, about 2 1/2 hours away. As stated on earlier posts.....the best picture ever was Atlanta in my rear view mirror!! And nope, 2200 feet is fine. Got a view, got a creek, got no noise, and I could go on, but I'd get my hand spanked.
GG, you'd appreciate this. When I worked in that section of town, my tool belt consisted of a nail pouch, hammer loop, try square holder, tape measure and smack in the back was my Colt commander.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 04:59 PM
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LOL wrists get slapped..A$$'s get spanked.....I think you're safe.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 08:41 PM
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Oh yes Section 8. Had a couple of customers that rented out Section 8 housing . One owned an apartment in a building that was so bad I told him any work would cost double because I would have to hire a security guard to sit in my truck while I worked. Yes, I was serious and no he never called me to do any work in that building which made me very happy.
 
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Old 05-29-09, 04:07 AM
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Oh, it's terrible that people have to live like that!! I had to scan the house before I began work with drawn weapon, lock myself in with screws on all the doors, have my truck in full view of the picture window. Do my work. Then go to lunch, screw the doors shut, come back and all the doors are smashed open. Do it all over again. Nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!
 
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Old 05-29-09, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
The next day the gas company came out and pulled the gas meter. They claimed it was more then ten years old whatever that meant. They wanted $300 to put in a new one. Coincidence this came a day after the electric inspector finally gave up and approved the electric...hmm?

It's quite common to replace gas (and electric and water) meters every ten years or so, due to metering inaccuracies as the meters age. For what its worth, generally old meters are junked rather than recalibrated, as labor costs make it cheaper to buy new than repair and recalibrate old meters. However, I have never heard of a utility charging to replace THEIR own meter! Are you sure the former renters didn't rack up a $300 unpaid gas bill, and the gas company refused to replace the meter until the bill was paid?
 
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Old 05-29-09, 01:51 PM
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Beachboy I really don't no the details. It was more the coincidence I found interesting. I think the gas company has replaced my meter at least once in the last 35 years but wasn't here if they did. They could have just painted it. Certainly there was no charge.
 
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Old 06-06-09, 10:14 AM
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Back to Holmes on Homes. This week's episode showed the second part of the abandoned renovation where the owners got stiffed for $206k, then a lien for $96k on a job never finished. I was amazed at the wasted space in that addition. 20' high bathroom ceiling, etc. Not sure why he was involved with this one, except for the pressure from the Ellen Degenerate show. I've seen more deserving people.
 
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Old 06-06-09, 10:19 AM
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I second that chandler....for what they spent on that you could buy 2 bigger new houses here. And I really didn't think it was all that nice when they finished...oh well, not my house.

And did you see how fancy they got with the wall? Kerdi on the outside to set the stone? That was probably $1000 or more just for the material...not the stone.
 
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Old 06-06-09, 05:12 PM
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When I saw that high, high ceiling over the shower all I could say is, "What a horrible waste of space!"
 
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Old 06-06-09, 05:33 PM
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Yep...kinda makes you wonder how much bigger the house could have been. Hey architects...can't live with 'em...can't live without 'em. I just hate when they try to get all artistic..without considering the real world.

Did you see that even 2 experienced contractors were having problems figuring out the prints a couple of times?
 
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Old 06-07-09, 08:19 AM
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Oh, I have problems with prints at each new jobsite. It isn't rocket science to tell what will work and what won't. BUT, you have to get the architect's approval in order to make a change to sanity, which can hold up construction for several days. Stupid things like wall returns that are a foot off from each other. And there hasn't been one born that understands cantilevers. They just like the "artistic" value of them.
The best architectural experience I had was building a two story barn with hay loft and double overhang roof. The owner was a Doctor of Physics (thinker), and each morning he would meet me at the site and kick the day's design in the sand. No "blueprint". Good relationship, and great barn!
Oh, Furd, that space above the bathroom was totally sinful!!!
 
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Old 06-07-09, 10:19 AM
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Were there hooks higher up on the wall so you could steam out the wrinkles in closthing easier without getting shampoo on the clothing?
 
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Old 06-07-09, 11:08 AM
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Don't know, but it would have been the only saving grace for such a poor design.
 
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Old 06-08-09, 04:45 AM
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"It isn't rocket science to tell what will work and what won't"

I painted a new house in fla for a rocket scientist. I didn't have any problems with him but the builder sure did. He claimed that the builder was using substandard lumber. Some of the studs had rounded edges, knots and or cracks in the wood. The plywood decking on the roof had some knots and or "footballs" and some of the edges had voids. The builder also had to provide an engineer's report on the truss system, after all everyone knows that roof trusses can't be made out of 2x4s and must be on 16" centers
Of course he expected his home to be priced the same as all the other identical homes built in that subdivision

I don't know if I've ever watched Holmes but the painting on most of those home improvement shows is almost always a joke - especially when 3-4 people are painting 1 wall and each of them is using a roller. The technique and type coatings used is usually incorrect
 
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