Close Your Permits?

I recently had to call Hartford’s Licenses and Inspections department to check on some permits for a particular house in Hartford. I was looking to understand if permits had been pulled for work performed at the house and if they had been closed out by a city inspector.

The L&I office has always been helpful whenever I’ve stopped by to check on permits for homes or just answer general questions I have about the L&I process. My recent conversation was a little frustrating though because the process seemed a little broken. Here’s how it went down…

Amy [on phone]: Hi, I’d like to get an understanding of what permits have been pulled for 123 XYZ Street and if they’ve been closed out.

L&I Employee [on phone]: Sure, let me check. But our computer system only goes back to 1990, so that’s as far as I’ll be able to tell you over the phone. Otherwise you’ll need to come in and do a record search.

Amy: That’s fine. Going back to 1990 is good enough for now.

L&I Employee: Okay. I see that there are 6 permits pulled, various building permits and plumbing permits, and they were pulled between 1992 and 2007.

Amy: Sounds good, I’m glad to hear that the permits were pulled. How many of them are closed out?

L&I Employee: None of them are closed. They all still show in an “open” status. But that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily open. The inspector may have gone out to check the work and the job card never got recorded to actually close out the permit.

Amy: Uh, so how am I supposed to tell if they are closed or not?

L&I Employee: Well, you can come down here and talk with the inspectors and see if they remember closing out the job.

Amy: But you said there are permits pulled from 1992. What are the chances the inspector still works in the department and that s/he will remember closing out a job from 1992?

L&I Employee: I can’t really comment on that. If you want to see if they’ve been closed out, you’ll need to come here in person and ask an inspector.

So there are a couple of takeaways from my phone conversation:

1. While the employees in Hartford’s Licenses and Inspections department are very helpful, it appears that they’re limited by the current recording process in order to get permits closed out. Inspectors could potentially be wasting a lot of time revisting jobs that have already been closed, but no record exists that they were actually closed. I think that is what is going to need to happen in my case.

2. As the homeowner, you should keep records of who performed the work at your home (which should be a licensed contractor) and the name of the inspector that comes to close out the job. That way if this situation happens to you, there is a paper trail to follow.

I’ll be headed to the Licenses & Inspections department today to do a little more investigation. Stay tuned for my dramatic conclusion…

UPDATE: So I stopped by L&I today. None of the permits were closed. I was told to call certain inspectors to see if they knew they had been closed, but not recorded as closed. More digging must be done. The people in the office assured me that there is a new process now, so this shouldn’t be happening anymore. It’s just older permits that might have this issue.