How to Get a Missouri Occupancy Permit

By James H. Bushart

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

In certain municipalities in Missouri, property damage that requires extensive repair will also require permits and inspections for the work.  Prior to moving in to a new home, many areas will also require occupancy permits prior to allowing a new buyer or renter to reside within the home.

The following links are provided as a service to assist home owners in locating the offices that can assist them to ensure that their contractors are properly licensed, that the required permits are obtained and that the necessary inspections are provided.

Here are links to many of the Saint Louis County (and some other) municipality websites or contact information.

Saint Louis area Zip Code map

Saint Louis City – 314.622.4000 (General Information number)

Saint Louis County – 314.615.5000 (General Information number)

Affton – Chamber of Commerce site – 314.849.6499

Aurora

Ballwin – 636.227.8580

Bella Villa – 314.638.8840

Bellefontaine Neighbors – 314.867.0076

Bellerive – 314.382.5337

Bel Nor – 314.381.2834

Bel Ridge – 314.429.2878

Berkeley – 314.524.3313 ext. 2052 (Housing Inspector Patrick Mullen)

Beverly Hills – 314.382.6544

Black Jack – 314.355.0400

Breckenridge Hills – 314.427.6868

Brentwood – 314.962.4800

Bridgeton – 314.739.7500

Calverton Park – 314.524.1212

Champ – 314.738.0772

Charlack – 314.427.4715

Chesterfield – 636.537.4000

Clarkson Valley – 636.227.8607

Clayton – 314.727.8100

Cool Valley – 314.521.3500

Country Club Hills – 314.261.0845

Country Life Acres – 314.739.4800

Crestwood – 314.729.4720

Creve Coeur – 314.432.6000

Crystal Lake Park – 314.993.1160

Dellwood – 314.521.4339

Des Peres -314.835.6100

Edumndson – 314.428.7125

Ellisville – 636.227.9660

Eureka – 636.938.5233

Fenton – 314.615.5000

Ferguson – 314.521.7721

Flordell Hills – 314.382.5524

Florissant – 314.921.5700

Frontenac – 314.994.3200

Glen Echo Park – 314.382.7355

Glendale – 314.965.3600

Grantwood -314.842.4409

Greendale – 314.383.2664

Green Park – 314.894.7336

Hanley Hills – 314.725.0909

Hazelwood – 314.839.3700

Hillsdale – 314.381.0288

Huntleigh – 314.446.4248

Jennings – 314.388.1164

Joplin

Kinloch – 314.521.3335

Kirkwood – 314.822.5823 – Number for Inspections & Permits

Ladue – 314.993.3439

Lakeshire City of Lakeshire website – 314.631.6222

Mackenzie – 314.752.0625

Manchester – 636.227.1385

Maplewood – 314.645.3600

Marlborough – 314.962.5055

Maryland Heights – 314.291.6550

Moline Acres – 314.868.2433

Monett

Normandy – 314.385.3300

Northwoods – 314.385.8000

Norwood Court – 314.382.8176

Oakland – 314.416.0026

Olivette – 314.993.0252

Overland – 314.428.4321

Pacific – 636.271.0500

Pagedale – 314.726.1200

Pasadena Hills – 314.382.4453

Pasadena Park – 314.383.0010

Pine Lawn – 314.261.5500

Richmond Heights – 314.646.7658

Riverview – 314.868.0700

Rock Hill – 314.968.1410

Saint Ann – 314.427.8009

Saint George – 314.631.1295

Saint John – 314.427.8700

Saint Louis City – 314.622.4000

Saint Louis County – 314.615.5000

Shrewsbury – 314.647.5795

Sunset Hills – 314.849.3400

Sycamore Hills – 314.426.5750

Town and Country – 314.432.6606

Twin Oaks – 636.225.7873

University City – 314.505.8560

Uplands Park – 314.383.1856

Valley Park – 636.225.8930

Velda City – 314.382.6600

Velda Village Hills – 314.261.7221

Vinita Park – 314.428.7373

Vinita Terrace – 314.427.4488

Warson Woods – 314.965.3100

Webster Groves – 314.963.5300

Wellston – 314.553.8000

Westwood – 314.727.0101

Wilbur Park – 314.631.3963

Wildwood – 636.458.0440

Winchester – 636.391.0600

Woodson Terrace – 314.427.2600

Copyright 2013 James H. Bushart

Before You Renew Your Insurance Policy … Read This!

Two small teddy bears

Two small teddy bears (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some people will carry insurance with the same company for years without ever having the need to file a claim … and then only at their greatest time of need, following a serious property loss, find that their insurer is NOT the “safety net” that they had expected.

Low rates, teddy bears, lizards with British accents, good hands and good neighbors … they all mean very little when disaster strikes your home and you experience improper claim denials and delays that add to your burden and interfere with your recovery.

Before renewing your next policy, check out (by clicking HERE) your insurance company with the Missouri Department of Insurance to see how they have measured up where it really matters … customer satisfaction in processing their claims. 

 

Copyright 2012 James H. Bushart

Superstorm Sandy and Property Damage Insurance

As is often the case following such damaging events as the recent storms in the Northeastern section of the United States from yesterday, hundreds of thousands of home and business owners will awaken and begin to discover the realities of their insurance contracts … those conditions and exclusions that are written into their insurance polices that, like landmines, often impede their steps toward restoring that part of their lives that has to do with their property damage and loss.

Believe it or not, thousands of home owners with their houses under water brought in by the sea or overflowing river banks will only — today — discover that flooding is not a covered peril under their insurance policies.  With all or most of their personal property missing or destroyed, providing proof of their losses will appear to be impossible.

Because the burden is on the insured to “prove” his loss and most are not totally aware of their rights or the process of proving their insurance claims, many will accept lower settlements or denials that will unnecessarily add to the burdens that they already are forced to endure.

Some “storm chasing” public adjusters from all over the country will soon be descending upon the area to help people with their insurance claims to help home and business owners contend with the wave of adjusters sent by the insurance companies to protect their financial interests … and while many of them will actually be helpful, the shock and the awe of the recent disaster still hangs over its victims like a dark cloud and not all of their choices during this period will be, upon later reflection, “good” choices.

Prudent home and business owners throughout the country can benefit from this lesson and take the opportunity — today — to meet with a public adjuster close to their home.  Get to know him and discuss your insurance contracts with him.  Let him show you what they do and do not cover, what your immediate steps should be following a loss and how to protect yourself from actions that could nullify or reduce the amount of your claim.

Public adjusters do not work for insurance companies and can help you through the process of proving your claim  … even before it happens … so that you can concentrate on more important things that you will certainly face during a personal property disaster.

It is also important to note that, if you try to handle your claim on your own and are unsatisfied with the results, a local public adjuster can review your claim and reopen it to address a wrongful denial or underpayment.

Take the time, today, to find a local public adjuster who will be there for you when you need him the most.

Your Denied or Underpaid Missouri Insurance Claim Can Be Reopened

By James H. Bushart

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Insurance adjusters hired by insurance companies will often deny legitimate home or business owner claims for property loss … or underpay them.  The chances are great that you are, or know, someone that this has happened to.

Until they have experienced the process, most folks believe that when they suffer an insurable loss to their home or business, all they need to do is contact their insurance company and someone runs out right away with a check to cover all that they need.  They are shocked to learn that, in the middle of their crisis, they are called upon to focus their attention on “proving” their loss while navigating a mine field of conditions and exclusions that often (and mistakenly) result in disappointment.

Public Adjusters do not work for insurance companies.  Instead, they work for insured home and business owners who benefit from assistance in negotiating their claim.It is important to know that … when the dust has settled and you are ready to address the disappointing shortfall … a review of your claim by a licensed Public Adjuster can be your best choice.

I am a Public Adjuster and I offer free consultations to Missouri home and business owners who want to inquire about their past claims and the possibility of recovering money that is owed to them under their insurance policy.  Many other Public Adjusters in other states offer the same service.

Remember that, when it comes to your insurance company, the first offer is usually the lowest and that “No” does not mean “forever”.

For more information, visit www.publicadjustermissouri.com or call me at 314-803-2167.

It’s your money.

What Should Your Insurance Company Pay You for the Repair and Restoration of Your Home?

When your home has been partially or totally destroyed from a peril covered by your insurance contract or policy, you have the right to expect to receive financial support from the insurer toward restoring your home to the condition that it was prior to the loss.

The only fair amount that an insurance company should pay for loss to real property (and that an insured should expect to be paid) is the cost for repair and restoration work that the specialists who undertake the project agree to work for.  Sometimes, insurance contracts will allow for reasonable depreciation … but the figure from which the depreciation is made or settlement is awarded should be the actual cost of restoring the property and not an arbitrary estimated amount.

Sometimes, their adjusters who work on their behalf will encourage home owners to agree to settlements that will provide less than what they are entitled to and that can appear to be reasonable … but are not.

For instance, many insurance company adjusters will rely upon and use computer software or publications that claim to represent costs for various incidents, materials and tasks and that are periodically updated by telephone surveys.  The errant suggested costs from these computer programs are what the insurance company’s adjusters will often use to base their settlement offers.

These estimating applications are often incomplete,  inaccurate and unreliable and will likely be used to represent the company’s first offer of settlement.  Unsuspecting home owners will feel obligated to accept these lowball offers … particularly when they are in a hurry for cash.

Sometimes, the insurance company will hire retired or former contractors and will pay them to provide “estimates” for repairing or restoring the home.  Many of these folks have not been directly involved with the actual repair or restoration process for many years  and lack current knowledge of material costs and procedures.  They are also unlikely to be the professionals who are going to be performing the actual work.  Additionally, being paid by the insurance company for their bid and their future referrals provides some of these folks with an incentive to provide low and unrealistic “estimates”.

Sometimes the insurer will offer a lump sum “cash out” that will (with quick and fast money) provide the home owner with the enticement to accept a fast settlement that will provide less than the required amount to fully restore their home to the original condition.  The idea of lower payments for “do-it-yourself” repair work provides the insurer with a lower payment while leaving the home owner on his own to seek and use lower quality and cheaper materials, inexperienced labor and with no warranty on the final work.  This is never a good idea.

Remember, the only fair fair amount that an insurance company should pay (and that you should accept) is the price for repair and restoration work that the specialists who undertake the project agree to work for.

If you feel that you have been underpaid for a recent claim and you live in the State of Missouri, contact me.  I will be happy to review your claim and let you know if there are additional steps that can be taken to assist you in receiving all that you are entitled to from your insurance company as a result of your loss.

Copyright 2012 James H. Bushart

How I Can Help When the Insurance Company “Lowballs” Your Settlement

Perhaps you’ve already filed your claim and received a lowball settlement that cannot possibly repair all of the damage to your Missouri property.

If there is money still owed to you by your insurer, I can help you by re-opening your insurance claim and negotiating a fair settlement.

My objective with the adjustment negotiations for your insurance company is a final agreement upon the maximum amount of money that you are entitled to receive under the terms and conditions of the insurance covering the loss.  This amount should coincide with the liability of the insurance company … meaning that, while an insured loss should not result in more than what it would take to restore you to your pre-loss condition, neither should it result in a payment of less.

The claim reopening process will begin with a review all the background documentation and your policy to determine if you were underpaid.  If you were underpaid and wish to hire me, I will contact your insurer and attempt to negotiate a fair settlement with them.  Sometimes, their “No” is simply a request for more information.

It costs you nothing to see if I can help you and if you do not recover additional money, you owe me nothing.

If your insured property is not located in Missouri, seek a public adjuster licensed in your state.

www.publicadjustermissouri.com

Electrical Safety and Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Circuit Breakers

While most jurisdictions with electrical codes will allow them, the “stab-lok” circuit breakers have an extensive history of fire and other related electrical issues.

I find them in many of the older homes in Southwest Missouri (as well as in some newer additions where the builder recycled used electrical parts) and found them commonly used in many areas of St. Louis and St. Louis County, as well, when I did inspections there.

I strongly recommend to those utilizing these electrical service panels and breakers to (1) replace them, or at a minimum (2) install a smoke detector in the area of the panel.

The following was recently reported on a Kansas City television station:  http://kctv.membercenter.worldnow.com/story/19065927/kctv5-investigates-circuit-danger

What Does It Mean When a Home “Meets Code”?

Does the fact that certain work within a home has “met code” assure the quality of that work?  Not necessarily.

The technology has existed for many years to keep a home’s electrical wiring from arcing and catching fire from electrical short circuits — but has only recently been added to the electrical code.  The requirement for the use of this technology (an arc fault circuit interrupter, or AFCI breaker) has yet to be adopted everywhere and where it is adopted, its requirement is often limited to only those circuits in a bedroom (as if bedrooms are the only rooms in a home where electrical wires will arc and burn, I suppose).

For years, home dwellers were severely shocked or electrocuted when a hair dryer would accidentally be dropped into a sink or tub, even though the technology existed (in the form of a ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI receptacle or breaker) to help prevent injuries from such accidents.  Again, it took many years and a series of small, incremental steps before GFCIs were finally required to be installed in homes where such requirements were adopted and enforced.

In this sense, the requirements themselves are lacking in prompt implementation and practical application.  Most items are added to codes and become “standards” only after many years of accumulated evidence of property damage, injuries, and death.  Today’s recent addition of life-saving fire suppression systems in the newer building codes — and the subsequent attempts to limit its application — is one recent example.

These requirements … and other building standards covering everything from the foundation to the roof, and everything in between … are what is commonly referred to as “building codes” or “code requirements”.

When codes are adopted by law in cities, counties and/or states … they become only the basic minimum requirement that a builder, remodeler or other contractors must meet.  Anything less than these basic minimum standards are considered illegal.  In that sense, simply “meeting the code” in some cases could also mean “barely legal” with the possibility that an even higher level of quality or assurance of safety can be attained.

Thus, “meeting code” is far from being any type of assurance of quality.  It only means that the minimum requirements established by law have been met.

Jurisdictions that have these basic minimum requirements will usually have someone tasked to enforce them called the “Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ)”, “building inspector” or “code enforcement officer”.  His visits to a construction or remodeling site are typically short and limited and sometimes serious violations of minimum building standards can be overlooked, but his pending inspection goes a long way to motivate the contractor to adhere to the standards.  Some homeowners and contractors will perform work on a home without the proper permits whereby the AHJ is unaware of the work and does not inspect it.  For these reasons, not all homes for sale can be considered safe to occupy without having an independent inspection performed by a professional prior to purchasing.

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where building codes have been adopted, it is important that you ensure that the proper permits have been acquired by your contractor … not only to meet the requirements of the law for obtaining a permit, but to ensure that your contractor meets the skill and licensing requirements in your area and to have the work inspected for compliance.

Missouri, Hazardous Waste Sites and Your Home

According to a recent publication from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, facilities or businesses in Missouri that actively treat, store (for more than 90 days) or dispose of hazardous waste must get a hazardous waste permit, which lists how and what kinds of hazardous waste the facility can manage.  It also lists the facility’s operating conditions and closure, corrective action and financial assurance requirements.

It could be important to you to research the information contained in these permits to see how close to where you presently live, or are planning to relocate, any of these facilities are located and whether or not they have modified their original permit conditions.

Permit modifications are labeled as Class 1, 2 or 3, depending on how much they change the original permit conditions.

The Department of Natural Resources invites the public to review its list of all approved hazardous waste permit modifications for calendar year 2011.  The permit modifications list is online at dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/permits/publications.htm .

For more information or a hardcopy of the list, contact the department’s Hazardous Waste Program at 800-361-4827.  Hearing and speech impaired individuals may reach the department through Relay Missouri at 800-735-2966.

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