Friday, July 27, 2012

How will Woodstock respond?

How does the City of Woodstock act, if it discovers that a resident has violated a City ordinance involving substantial fees that are required to be paid to the City?

If it (meaning, employees in supervisory or management capacity) has general knowledge of a violation, but no one actually files a complaint, does any corrective action begin?

An important part of the City Code is the requirement that an owner who intends to improve his residence must apply for a Permit. In the application for a permit he describes the general improvements to be made (addition of bedrooms, bathrooms, finishing of basement, etc.). As the work progresses, inspections may have to be made of plumbing and electrical work before those changes disappear behind new walls. This is for the safety of the occupants.

No permit? Probably no inspections.

As importantly, the City collects its "due" in the form of permit fees and Impact Fees. The Impact Fees are those nasty, often-considered exorbitant fees that are mostly complained about by builders of new homes, because they affect the price of the new home.

But Impact Fees are required when certain improvements are made to a house; for example, when bedrooms are added. Otherwise, might not builders start selling one-bedroom houses (lowest Impact Fee) and then purchasers would just finish 2-3-4 more bedrooms and escape with the lowest Impact Fees? The cities wised up to that possibility.

If you buy a two-bedroom house and later add two more bedrooms, you must, in Woodstock, pay the difference in Impact Fees. This could be $7,-8,-10,-12,000 in new Impact Fees.

The City must be diligent and alert for homeowner improvements. Few will consider it "fair" for the City to collect such a large fee (tax) on a remodeling job, but that's the law. If you don't like it, complain. But you can't just not pay it.

Well, actually, you can "just not pay it." You don't apply for a permit, and then no one knows about it. For example, the Township Assessor doesn't know about it. A prospective buyer wouldn't know about it, unless he or his real estate agent paid sharp attention. A listing agent should be alert and diligent, too.

There is language in the Real Estate Contract about this. It requires the Seller to state, certify, attest that all permits required for any remodeling were acquired. Does an agent go over the Contract with the Seller line-by-line? Does a listing agent trust, but verify?

What if the original permit for construction is for a two-bedroom, two-bath house, but the listing agent is advertising a four-bedroom, two-bath house? A logical question would be, "Did you pull a permit for this remodeling?" Wouldn't a listing agent look at the tax record and contact the Township Assessor to confirm that the house being listed is properly assessed?

What agent wants a sale to backfire, especially after closing? This will generate huge problems for the Buyer, for the selling agent, for the listing agent, and for the Seller. And where was the Title Company in all this? Does it do anything except collect a fee for sitting down at a conference table for an hour and say, "Sign here, and here, and here, and here..."? Did an appraiser come up with a value for the listing agent?

And what does a City do if it discovers that no permit for remodeling exists and that impact and permit fees were not paid? Who is responsible now for the fees? The current owner? Or does the City have any recourse against the previous owner?

Sticky, sticky, sticky.


John Lovaas said...

Here is Woodstock's current building and construction permit fee structure:

Not a single mention of Impact Fees. Because there aren't any. Impact Fees apply to new construction in new subdivisions.

Gus said...

John, I wish you were right. Please call Woodstock Community Development on Monday (815.338.4305) for correct information.

John Lovaas said...

The correct and most up-to-date information in posted online. All you have to do is provide the URL of the document listing Impact Fees for existing structures. And you seem to be unable to do that.

A telephone conversation you may or may not have had with a City employee who may or may not have understood your questions- not evidence in any way, shape, or form.

When someone asks for proof, and you provide none- that's unimpressive 'journalism'. You were able, in past posts, to illustrate how much Impact Fees for a new construction in a new subdivision costs- please provide the source of that information.

Gus said...

Good luck, John, when you re-model.

I'm completely satisfied with the information I have been given at City Hall.

woodstockabdicate said...

Look for that certified mail from the City soon.

John Lovaas said...

Ah ! Here is Woodstock's 2012 Impact Fee schedule:

One page. New construction only; not one word about additions or remodeling.

Gus said...

John, since you are so interested in this, will you please telephone Community Development at 815.338.4305 on Monday and ask about Impact Fees if you remodel your home and add bedrooms?

woodstockabdicate said...

Going after John if you ever get around to outing whomever you're after now?

Gus said...

If he wants correct information, all he has to do is call City Hall during business hours. He has found helpful information on the City's website, but I believe he doesn't have complete information yet.