Chatham resident wants to know how structural problems and building code violations slipped through the cracks

Pittsboro, NC – During the June 5th Chatham County Commissioners meeting Jake Muehlbach came up to speak for three minutes during the public input portion of the meeting. The lifelong resident recounted the nightmare his family has endured due to an unsafe home built in Chatham county. Despite passing all required permits and inspections, the home turned out to have major structural problems and over 30 building code violations. Muehlbach’s plea for accountability and justice has sparked a demand for further investigation, stricter oversight, and changes to immunity laws that protect negligent local governments.

Building the Nightmare
A few years ago Jake Muehlbach and his family embarked on a dream of building their own home in Chatham County. Following the established procedures, they hired a licensed industry contractor and obtained the necessary permits from the county. All inspections were successfully completed, and they were issued a certificate of occupancy, assuring them that their home was built to code and safe for occupancy.

Muehlbach family

Uncovering Structural Problems and Code Violations
Unfortunately, their dream quickly turned into a nightmare when the family started experiencing structural issues that the builder failed to address. Concerned for their safety, Muehlbach sought additional inspections by county officials, private inspectors, and engineers. To their shock, the subsequent investigations revealed major structural problems and a staggering number of building code violations—over 30 in total.

Failed Oversight and Negligence
The revelation of these issues raises serious questions about the oversight and accountability of Chatham County’s inspections department. Despite the permits, inspections, and certificate of occupancy, how could such significant structural problems and code violations be overlooked? Muehlbach’s plea for answers is not only a cry for justice but also a demand for accountability.

Calls for Investigation and Email Examination
In his address to the commissioners, Muehlbach requested a thorough investigation into the emails of Director David Camp, particularly those exchanged with the county manager. He believes these communications may shed light on the failures in ensuring the safety of his home. It is crucial for the integrity of the county’s building inspection process that any potential negligence or misconduct is exposed.

Chatham County Manager’s Lack of Response
Muehlbach also expressed his frustration with the lack of response from the county manager when attempting to seek clarification and accountability. A citizen’s attempts to communicate concerns about an employee under the county manager’s supervision should not be ignored. Closer oversight and a more responsive approach are needed to prevent such situations from recurring in the future.

Strengthening Oversight and Reforming Immunity Laws
To prevent similar incidents from happening again, closer oversight and peer review for building inspectors are imperative. However, this issue extends beyond Chatham County. Muehlbach’s case highlights the need for statewide changes, specifically regarding immunity laws that protect local governments from liability in cases of gross negligence. North Carolina should consider implementing laws that require general contractors to maintain sufficient insurance to protect homeowners, providing an additional layer of security.

Seeking Justice and Compensation
Muehlbach demands that Chatham County takes responsibility for the damages inflicted on his family. He urges the county to cover the costs of rectifying the structural problems and code violations, which have already drained their life savings. Fair compensation is not only a matter of justice but also essential for his family’s peace of mind and the restoration of their safe living environment.

Reforming Contractor Discipline and Enforcement
Furthermore, Muehlbach emphasizes the need for prompt action from the North Carolina Contractors Board. Rather than allowing contractors to continue working without discipline for years, claims against them should be addressed swiftly and effectively. Strengthening contractor discipline and enforcement mechanisms is crucial to ensure accountability in the construction industry and protect homeowners from potential harm.

The ordeal faced by Jake Muehlbach and his family shines a light on the importance of rigorous oversight and accountability in the building industry. Chatham County’s failure to ensure the safety of their home has had severe consequences for the family’s financial security, well-being, and peace of mind.

This case should serve as a wake-up call to both local and state authorities to prioritize the safety of homeowners over bureaucratic immunity. By conducting a thorough investigation, implementing stricter oversight measures, and enacting reforms to contractor discipline and enforcement, Chatham County and North Carolina as a whole can work towards a safer future for all residents. It is imperative that the lessons learned from this case are applied to prevent similar situations in the future.

Commissioner Karen Howard’s response

After Jake Muehlbach completed his statement, Commissioner Karen Howard made the following statement: “We don’t ordinarily respond to people at the speaking public input. But I do want to confirm with the county attorney that this immunity is not unique to Chatham County and also that the plaintiff did get judgment in favor against the builder.”
Chatham County attorney: “This is correct.”

You can watch and listen to the YouTube video Chatham County NC Commissioners Meeting, unsafe home, immunity, code violations, investigation

00:03 Jake Muehlbach shares his family’s nightmare of the past three years.

  • Jake is a lifelong Chatham County resident.
  • Jake’s family had their home built in Chatham County.

00:25 Homeowner faces major structural problems despite following all regulations

  • Permits and inspections were obtained from licensed industry contractor and county
  • Additional inspections by private inspectors and engineers revealed major structural problems and code violations

00:53 Chatham County’s negligence cost us our life savings and equity in our home

  • Certificate of occupancy issued, stating home is built to code and safe to occupy
  • Inspections were mandatory, not optional

01:22 Legal fees incurred to make things right

  • Chatham County, NC should be ashamed of their handling of the situation
  • Further investigation needed into emails between director David Camp and county manager for safety concerns

01:46 Citizen demands closer oversight and responsibility from Chatham County

  • Employee under direct supervision caused damage to citizen’s home
  • Building inspectors need closer oversight and peer taking to prevent future incidents

02:10 North Carolina should stop local governments from hiding behind immunity

  • State needs to put laws in place to require sufficient insurance for homeowners
  • Fast response from contractors board needed for claims

02:34 Contractor negligence and lack of discipline

  • Contractor allowed to work for years without consequences
  • Chatham County residents demand action and accountability

02:59 County’s immunity not unique to Chatham County

  • Video explains immunity and County’s emails
  • Plaintiff won judgment against Builder