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There are reasons why home improvement companies in general, or more specifically basement waterproofing contractors such as AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation, must follow permit and inspection processes. When adhered to, these offer a level of protection for the homeowner and others; protection from hazardous conditions or the actions of disreputable contractors. As with many such rules and regulations, individuals and companies will be more inclined to follow these if there is a cost with failure to comply. Specifically, if codes are enforced and violations subject to citations and fines one will have incentives to play by the rules; especially if the penalties increase with subsequent infractions.
As stated on the Anne Arundel County web site (See: AA County Department of Inspections and Permits ) “The Department of Inspections and Permits strives to provide the citizens of Anne Arundel County with the highest inspection standards consistent with the adopted codes and regulations. This is accomplished through the consistent and equitable application of regulations in the built and natural environment through plans review, inspections, enforcement and the issuance of permits and licenses.”
Code violations and associated penalties to the side, failing to obtain mandated inspections simply makes it easier for a disreputable contractor to cheat a homeowner. Mischief may be more likely if the contracting company hires a disreputable subcontractor AND the contracting company itself has little or no quality control or inspection procedures of its own. Add to that the illegal use of an unlicensed subcontractor and you have the elements for a disaster. What motivation does such an outfit have to bring in an external government agency to inspect their handy work?
In my previous posting (Failure to obtain permit) I took note of the delay between the time I paid AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation to obtain the necessary permits and the time when they finally did it. In the meantime the work was performed without the required inspections. They also failed to perform the work as described in the permit application; both violations of county regulations. They were cited for these and had judgements entered against them, paying multiple fines. See AquaGuard – Consent Judgment dated 3-5-13 – 6Z34073122 (00122438) and AquaGuard – Consent Judgment dated 3-5-13 – 0Z34073123 (00122440)
The real shame in this failure to follow procedures was the lost opportunity to catch misdeeds early on. Had someone, either AquaGuard or the county inspector, taken even a few minutes to inspect the work site, the incompetence of the subcontractor would have been quickly seen and, potentially, just as quickly addressed. Alerted to the inability of the workers to perform, the contractor might have prevented the tarring of the walls and all the issues that followed. But, as one of their owners noted, AquaGuard was in a hurry. What the hurry was has never been explained. Certainly I wasn’t rushing them, a fact well-known to their salesman. Indeed, he offered us a discount, or so he claimed at the time, if we showed “flexibility” in scheduling the work. It turned out the “flexibility” meant they would do the job several months earlier than his initial estimate! I’ve heard of paying a premium to get goods and services earlier, so how does this work? In my case I got a discount, the “work” done “earlier”, and multiple disasters. Such a deal!
Returning to the recent judgments against AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation, the significance of these is that AquaGuard, not their disreputable sub-contractor, was held responsible for failures to follow the rules and regulations of the county. In my mind the county, by pursuing these matters to the end, sends an important message to contractors who ignore the laws, rules, and regulations of the county and state.
Consumers must make sure the appropriate permits are obtained before work starts and that all inspections are conducted at the appropriate times. In my case I naively assumed that paying AquaGuard $350.00 meant they would take responsibility for this aspect of the work. I will not make that mistake again.
The permit and inspection process may seem onerous or at least a needless delay in getting a job done. As my experience demonstrates, there is more at stake than simply following rules. The mandated process is an essential aspect of protecting consumers, and their homes, from the disreputable practices of some companies.