Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Builder blames city official

Says he bought doctored drawings from municipal inspector

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A local builder is firing back after the city revoked his building permits, claiming he purchased the doctored engineering blueprints from a city building inspector.

In late December, reports show the city revoked three of Hollywood Homes Inc.'s building permits for homes on Pritchard and Bowman avenues and Chevrier Boulevard after officials discovered submitted drawings "have been deliberately altered" to indicate they were approved by an engineer.

The city has revoked all three building permits, and ordered Hollywood Homes to stop construction and obtain a new building permit by March 1. Alternatively, the builder could obtain a permit to demolish all construction by March 1.

If Hollywood Homes fails to comply, the City of Winnipeg will bring the properties into compliance, which may include demolishing them.

Hollywood Homes Inc. owner Dave Haner alleges he purchased the blueprints with a false engineering seal from a city building inspector. Haner said his company has worked to buy homes and vacant lots in the North End and build affordable housing since 2002.

He said there's no problem with the wood foundation at any of the three properties, noting two of them are currently occupied by families.

Haner will appeal the orders at council's property committee meeting on Tuesday.

"(A city building inspector) sold me the blueprints that were originally drawn and stamped for a different address," Haner alleged Friday.

"It was sold to me as an engineer-stamped drawing. It turns out it was for somebody else's house and he sold it to more than one person."

City of Winnipeg spokeswoman Michelle Bailey said in a statement the department was not aware of any such allegation and has taken immediate steps to investigate. She said Winnipeg's public services take inquiries and allegations of this nature very seriously.

Last year, Winnipeg introduced a new approval process to speed up the time it takes to get a building permit. The new strategy puts more onus on property owners and commercial builders to ensure their designs meet building-code requirements.

While some designs -- such as hospitals and schools -- will undergo more scrutiny, things such as single-family homes or strip malls can be approved if architects or engineers submit certificates stating the plans are up to code. The city uses a computer program to randomly select which projects get detailed reviews, and developers or homebuilders who do not have a good record for code compliance will receive more reviews than those with good records.

City inspections are still carried out during construction to ensure the project meets building-code requirements.

Property chairman Coun. Jeff Browaty (North Kildonan) said he thinks Winnipeg has made progress in speeding up the approval process for permits while maintaining checks and balances.

"This is still showing that we have some checks and the checks are working and we found a potential problem here," Browaty said.

Three city reports, released Friday, said drawings submitted for the Hollywood Homes properties were marked with an engineer's seal to certify they were designed, inspected and certified by a professional structural engineer. However, the engineer whose seal was on the documents denied any knowledge or involvement with the Hollywood Homes Inc.'s properties, the reports said.

The city's criteria

What is a stop-work order?

THE city issues an order to stop construction when it is considered necessary to bring a property into compliance or if there's a significant safety issue. The goal is to make sure a project complies with the building code and city bylaws.

For example, the city issued a stop-work order against the owners of the Boyd Building in 2010 when they erected a three-storey electronic sign without a city permit.

How many does the City of Winnipeg issue?

Last year, city building inspectors issued four residential/housing orders to stop work.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 16, 2013 B1

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