Builder Writes Letter to Council: Building Department Cuts, 3rd Party Contracted Services Not Good


To:         To Whom It May Concern

From:     BJ Kuula  


Date:     6/1/09

Re:        City of Turlock Building Department

To Whom It May Concern,

It has recently come to my attention there is a potential possibility that a portion or the entire Building Department at the City of Turlock is going to be eliminated and/or laid off due to city budget cuts. After recently completing the Sierra Oaks Apartment project with the Turlock Building Department I thought it prudent that our view and working relationship with the Building Department be expressed.

For those that were in close contact with the Sierra Oaks Apartments Project there were a few challenges that came up during construction which affected our job. In my numerous years of experience I have yet to come across a building department that was so proactive in working with our project managers, superintendents, architects and engineers. Mark Ellis, the Chief Building Official, led the charge that helped us come up with resolutions to our challenges and gave us all the support needed to ensure we could continue with high production. Mark made it a point to contact me a few times a month personally to make sure that the project was running smooth and that there were no issues we needed help with. With Mark’s management and the support from his inspection staff American Home Builders was able to complete another quality project that not only we could be proud of, but also the entire community of Turlock.  

One area that definitely hindered some of our projects progress was the plan review process that the city opted to have done by a 3rd party company. The review took a lot longer than an average job and the communication with the 3rd party reviewer was sub par. Decisions on code interpretation were not objective rather they were subjective to whoever the third party reviewer was.   My point in identifying this is that by outsourcing more of the city of Turlock’s personnel it is going to make it more difficult to communicate with the city and its different departments. What I have found in the past in situations like these is no one wants to take the accountability for anything. Mark made himself, his staff, and most importantly us accountable for everything that happened on our job site and by doing that we all were awarded with a well built project. 

I hope that you find this letter before an unfortunate decision is made. Please feel free to contact to verify any of the above facts.


BJ Kuula

Vice President
American Home Builders, Inc.

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