FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County Board of Building Code Appeals ruled Thursday partially in favor of Bentonville homeowner Kristie Atwood, who maintained that officials failed to identify all of the construction issues at home.
Atwood, whose home burned down in a 2015 fire, signed a contract with Buracker Construction LLC to clear the site of debris and rebuild the family’s home. An occupancy certificate was issued in July 2016, despite what Atwood said were a number of issues with construction, including the fact that no water test had been conducted, an outdoor furnace had not been installed, nor had a water softener system been installed. Since issuing that certificate, Building Official David Beahm has acknowledged that there were five building code violations that the county previously failed to cite.
Atwood’s attorney, David Silek, said an independent building inspector found at least 60 other items that also should have been found in violation of the building code. He told the board, regarding Beahm, “He missed… by coming back (to reinspect) he acknowledged he missed some.” Silek then told the board that Atwood was requesting that the county provide an outside, impartial inspector to reinspect her home.
In addition to the five violations found after the occupancy certificate was issued, the appeals board identified seven additional violations and voted in Atwood’s favor, 4-1. George Cline was the dissenting vote; Dave Buracker recused himself from the proceedings because he and his wife, Martha Buracker, are the builders against whom Ms. Atwood has lodged the complaint.
Beahm said after the meeting that he believes the board’s decision was illegal because specific code sections were not cited in identifying the seven additional violations.
During a May 22 hearing, Silek outlined several other issues regarding the contractor, Martha Buracker:
A building permit application designating Buracker Construction LLC, which is an unlicensed entity, as the contractor. The state contractor’s license on that application, however, belonged to Buracker Construction. The building permit was issued to Buracker Construction. The contract for the job was between Kristie Atwood and Buracker Construction LLC.
Because Buracker Construction LLC was not licensed, the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR) has indicated that Atwood is ineligible for the recovery funding, which “provides relief to eligible consumers who have incurred losses through the improper and dishonest conduct of a licensed contractor or real estate professional,” according to the DPOR website.
Silek said that those funds, were Atwood be able to collect them, would be used to correct the violations found by the appeals board.
Appeals board members commented several times throughout the hearing that it is not within their purview to rule on any issues relating to the permit or the unlicensed contractor. Member Wendell Hatcher said, before making a motion to accept Atwood’s appeal request, “She is asking us to recognize Warren County’s errors in inspection; she has a valid complaint.”
Atwood said after the meeting she would consult with Silek before making a decision regarding her next step in resolving the issues with her home.