04/17/10 95 W, 1 I - + 5 - 2 What Happens to Burned Buildings?

Question for those in the know. It's been over six months since the two-alarm fire at 1005 E. Millbrook Road, shown below, that killed a resident on September 15, 2009. The structure is still standing, and in seemingly the same condition as after the fire. Are property owners required to demolish (or perhaps rebuild or repair) structures after such incidents? If yes, does the process take many months, if perhaps insurance and other legalities must be squared? Credit to Mrs. Blogger for this question. We passed same this evening on date night.

From my experience in fire investigations, I am unaware of any requirement that forces property owners to rebuild or repair after a fire. However, if the residence is in a homeowner association district, the HOA may force the property owner to repair the residence to maintain the appearance of the neighborhood. Either way, it is extremely rare for a property owner to not want to repair it. Either they want to continue living in the residence, rent it out, or sale the property…not just let it sit.

The speed in which repairs are done are affected by several factors. The most common is their insurance company and whether or not they are challenging the claim. If the insurance company is fighting the claim, the process will take a considerable longer time period. Throw in a fatality and it only compounds the situation. You also have to consider what level of insurance the property owner had on the residence and what coverage was there. If insurance is not an issue, the property owner may simply just not be able to afford repairs. Or if the deceased was the property owner, the estate may not have yet assigned the residence to the rightful heir, further delaying repair.
AP - 04/18/10 - 09:16

Thanks AP, that’s exactly the perspective that I, er, the Missus was seeking!
Legeros - 04/18/10 - 09:47

It depends on the locale/municipality, and it usually falls to the inspections department…with enforcement potentially varying (some cities/inspectors are more vigorous than others). These ordinances frequently fall under an unfit for human habitation realm or a dilapidation provision. From the City of Raleigh’s Municipal Code, the Inspections Department has the power to “To investigate the dwelling conditions in the City in order to determine which dwellings therein are unfit for human habitation”.

Further with regard to timeframe and how such a process may be initiated: it can be by complaints of a certain # of residents in some jurisdictions, or by the action of an inspector seeing/investigating a complaint on their own. Their investigation is usually followed with letter/notice served upon the owner/property/responsible party, with a hearing to follow (10-30 days later) typically. Subsequently, an order of some type may be issued, and the ordinances allow that the “Director of Inspection may cause such dwelling[s] to be repaired, altered or improved or to be vacated or closed” for failure to comply.

I have seen a City of Raleigh Inspector place such a notice on a burned dwelling in the Hedingham Area, about 3 months post fire incident.

Inquiring minds…link to the City of Raleigh’s Ordinance from Article H (Housing Code): http://library.municode.com/index.aspx?c.. (Article H – Housing Code, Sec 10-6121 or search for dilapidation)

There could be insurance related issues that may arise as AP references.
McGraw (Email) - 04/18/10 - 21:50

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