‘I am not paying for shoddy work’
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
RIVERVIEW – City Councilman James Trombley said in a March 11 council study session that the city is not getting value from contracted inspectors, adding he is “not paying for shoddy work.”
Trombley, who recently accompanied his sister house-hunting in Riverview, said he saw egregious examples of houses that should not have passed point-of-sale inspections, and his sister ended up selecting a house in Trenton because the two houses she liked in Riverview had serious issues – including water damage and possible mold – that were overlooked by inspectors and only brought to their attention by neighbors.
The city Community Development and Building Department, which inspects building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing construction, as well as point-of-sale and rental inspections, covers the cost of the inspections through application and permit fees.
Until mid-2018, all inspectors worked directly for the city. At that time, however, a mechanical and plumbing inspector resigned, and another electrical inspector had medical problems which inhibited his ability to do inspections.
Code Enforcement Services in Ann Arbor, CES, which is affiliated with Carlisle Wortman Associates, which provides community development and building and engineering services, stepped in to do inspections, which falls under the purview of Community Development Director Dave Scurto, who works for Carlisle Wortman Associates.
At present, inspectors working for the city are operating under the same contract they have had for the past 10 years. The CES inspectors, who began less than a year ago, are compensated at a higher rate, reflecting current market rate wages for the services, which are paid through permit and inspection fees.
Trombley asked Craig Strong, director of Code Enforcement Services, why it has taken them a year to explain to the city council what was going on with inspections.
Strong said all of the inspectors are licensed, as required by law.
“Who gave the authority to Carlisle Wortman do the services for the last year?” Trombley asked. “Because it sure wasn’t this council.”
City Manager Douglas Drysdale said he authorized the use of outside inspectors to provide a means to keep inspections going.
Trombley replied that the city council is the body that approves or disapproves city contractors.
Trombley said that first time homebuyers are coming into Riverview, and people who have flipped houses are taking advantage of their naivety, and inexperienced home buyers are discovering problems months after they buy their home.
“These slum lords are buying these houses, fixing them up to the bare minimum, and then selling them to these young kids, and after a few months they find out they have to fix this, and it is going to cost a ton,” Trombley said.
Trombley, who is a state licensed electrician, said when he went house hunting with his sister, he saw obvious code violations that should not have passed inspection.
“How did you miss something like this?” Trombley asked. “That was like a sore thumb sitting there. Do I think that the city is getting its money’s worth, at least the last two months? No. If two houses I go into, and I find this, what are they doing in terms of an inspection? Why aren’t you looking at this stuff?”
Strong said he could show Trombley the statistics.
“We are doing about 30 inspections a week, of point-of-sale,” Strong said. “About half of those fail. I will look into it.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected])