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New home building pitfall – learn from my mistake

And so it came to pass that I bought the family a new house, and in the true tradition of a cobbler’s children having no shoes, I forgot to do one simple step which is going to cost me dearly when I resell the house. It would have been pretty simple to check, and I should have known better. If you’re thinking of buying a new home at Mueller, make sure you follow one simple step so that you don’t end up like me. Are you ready? Here it is: make sure your house is complete before you move in.

I know what you’re thinking, “Surely that’s what all of the walk throughs and inspections are for? The City of Austin would never let me buy a home that wasn’t habitable, safe, and complete. Right?” I know what you mean. I’m not talking about the pre-closing walk through – a topic that I can and probably will wax lyrical on for pages, and I’m not talking about all of the title insurance commitments. I’m talking about the permits and certificate of occupancy.

Now, you would think that all building permits would have to be closed and the work inspected before the certificate of occupancy could be issued. That would make sense per the City of Austin Building Inspection Process Flowchart which I took an excerpt of below. Lots of boxes representing stages of development and their related inspections, culminating with the go ahead to move in from a code compliance perspective.


Apparently though, mistakes do get made. I heard of one home that was occupied that had no certificate of occupancy. Quite how that got past the lender who provided the third party loan to purchase the house is a mystery to me.

The other thing that I noticed on my house when I wanted to add solar panels to the roof was that there was an expired building permit from an irrigation contractor. This effectively blocked the pulling of a new electrical permit to install and connect the panels until it was resolved. So I asked the original contractor to take care of it, and they duly did. The electrical permit was issued, and the work completed. Oh happy day.

It is said that we are doomed to repeat our mistakes until we learn from them. So a few months back when a new electrical permit was required for some work with Pecan Street Inc, I was surprised to hear about the permit issue once more. It appears that instead of closing the permit (getting the inspection) the irrigation contractor had extended the permit, which had again expired. Blocking the new work of the Pecan Street Mueller Demonstration Project.

The moral of this story is to check your permits and their status, or make sure that your builder does. If you’re so motivated, you can use the Austin Building Permit Search feature at the City’s connection website and look up your address yourself.

I live and work at Mueller Austin TX. Please get in touch if you have any questions, or comment below. 512 215 4785

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