Are Upgrades and Structural Certification Required for Historic Homes?

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    Robin Baker
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    Upland Heritage is working with the owner of a historic house built in 1890, which predates building permits, tax records and also the City’s incorporation. She is remodeling areas of the home which the City believes were never permitted, including space in the attic, and a rear addition. By examining the construction methods and materials, it is obvious to us that the two additions are almost as old as the original home, and likely predate permit records. In order to proceed with the project, the City is requiring the homeowner to obtain a letter from an architect or structural engineer certifying the structural integrity of a home that has stood for over 100 years. The City is also requiring certification letters from a licensed electrician and a plumber for those elements of the home. Obtaining letters certifying long-time existing conditions is very costly to the homeowner and seems unnecessary.

    The house is 1 1/2 stories. The bedrooms and bathroom in the attic were never documented by the tax assessor since they were not conspicuous by exterior inspection. The homeowner would like to have all the existing living space in the home documented and recognized as being fully legal for future resale purposes.

    Our question is how other Cities approach a situation such as this? Does the California Historic Building Code address this issue? Please email me at uhpresident@yahoo.com if you should have any questions.

    Thank you.

    Robin Baker, President, Upland Heritage

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