Fire Safety Inspections

A condominium is considered a Public Building and falls under the jurisdiction of the Vermont Department of Public Safety (DPS). As such, this and all such properties, are subject to periodic inspection by the Department to insure that it is (primarily fire) code compliant.

We will check with the Department to see whether there has been a recent inspection of this, or of any other units in the project but it is not certain that their records will reflect such an inspection.

The question then becomes whether a buyer would want to request such an inspection by the Department, in addition to the general property inspection that will be conducted. The fee for such additional inspection is $125.00. At this time, there is no law which would require that you, or the Seller, to have the Department inspect at the time of a sale of the unit; however, we strongly recommend that an inspection be scheduled, for safety reasons and because the issue will likely come up again either by way of a general inspection (mentioned above) or at the time you eventually sell your unit. As a result of the 2014 major fire at the Mountainside complex, the DPS inspection has become even more critical.

Typically, the types of things that such inspections turn up are any electrical issues, railing heights on steps and loft areas, and, the most often identified problem, undersized egress windows in the bedrooms. Notably, a recent DPS inspection initially required the installation of a complete sprinkler system for a condominium project (although that requirement was subsequently withdrawn) in addition to other fairly substantial fire prevention upgrades. Obviously, the costs of any such DPS required upgrades can be an important consideration in the purchase of a property. If an inspection is ordered, and issues are discovered by the Department, the Seller can elect to address the problems as with any general inspection issues, or, you can accept the property as-is and address the issues yourselves. Once the Department inspector has been brought to the unit, however, any non-compliant issues that are discovered will be required to be addressed within a specified period of time or fines may be imposed and/or occupancy prohibited until the corrections are made. Because the inspection has the potential to create obligation for the Seller (whether or not your transaction occurs) , it is essential that the Seller consent to this DPS inspection before it is performed.

Depending upon the nature of any issues identified by the Department, it may be that some or all of the corrective activity is an Association responsibility rather than an individual unit owner responsibility. The Declaration of Condominium would have to be reviewed in order to make that determination.

We can prepare an Addendum under the attorney review provision of the Contract, which allows you, in addition to the general inspection, to request an inspection by the Department of Public Safety.

If you elect to proceed with the DPS inspection, we request that it be scheduled as soon as possible.