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Half Built Homes and Neighborhood Values

October 19th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

The Chicago Tribune had an informative article on the problem of half-built residences and the effect on neighborhoods on Sunday. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-10-16/news/ct-met-half-built-houses-20101016_1_half-built-homes-construction-site-property-values We’ve been struggling with the problem for over 2 years now with spotty success.  The homes are half-built because the contractor or homeowner ran out of money and can’t get a new loan.  Many of the properties are in foreclosure.  Sometimes we’ve been able to get the exterior of the building finished so the house looks like it’s occupied even if the interior is not.  Usually though we have to wait until the lender takes possession so that we have someone with resources to do something.  Another option is to file an action for demolition if the property is unsafe or unsound after being open to the elements though the local jurisdiction has to be willing to spend legal fees on such a lawsuit.  Once the building permit expires, I’ve been using the property maintenance code for enforcement.  I’ve been arguing that once there is no construction going on, the structure is an “existing structure” of some type and, therefore, subject to the IPMC.  Another approach is to declare an unfinished building a nuisance under the local nuisance ordinance and then order that the nuisance be abated.  However, the lack of financial resources may make this impossible for the current owner.

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  1. Jerry
    October 20th, 2010 at 08:45 | #1

    Though the following comments may suggest otherwise I am not a fan of big government.
    Whenever I see these properties or read a similar article I wonder if it’s not a good idea to enact regulations requiring performance and payment bonds for residential construction. A performance bond would ensure that the structure would be completed. Payment bond would protect homeowner from a having liens placed against their property by unpaid suppliers or subcontractors. While no one may want to pay for these bonds they would protect both homeowners from being victimize by bad contractors and communities from being victimized by half-built homes.

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