How To Remove Stop Work Order From DCRA: Step-by-step Guide


DC building department faces various challenges and setbacks in construction projects. Issuance of ‘Stop Work Order’ is one such challenge, which can halt construction progress, leading to delays and loss for builders and developers.

Eliminating a ‘Stop Work Order in DC’ requires navigating a complex process that involves compliance with regulations set forth by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. It also involves coordination with local government bodies such as the Department of Transportation, DC Water, and the Department of Energy and Environment.

Permit expediters provide assistance in this regard, leveraging expertise to streamline paperwork, liaise with the city and authorities, and ensure adherence to regulations, ultimately expediting the removal of the Stop Work Order and facilitating project approval.

What is DCRA?

Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in Washington D.C. issues DCRA Stop Work Order. This legal document acts as a vital measure for ensuring public safety, enforcing building regulations and preventing illegal construction.

Purpose  Statistic  Source 
Ensuring Public Safety  Construction is among the top 5 most hazardous industries in the US  National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 
Enforcing Building Regulations  Building code violations contribute to an estimated 24,000 structure fires annually in the US  National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2021 report 

Why Stop Work Orders are issued?

Let’s check out the reasons for Stop Work Orders:

  • Non-compliance with building codes or zoning regulations: This could involve exceeding the permitted scope of work, violating safety standards, or not adhering to zoning restrictions. 
  • Unsafe or dangerous conditions: If construction poses a risk to workers, the public, or surrounding properties, a stop work order may be issued. 
  • Lack of necessary permits: Construction projects requiring permits cannot proceed without obtaining them, leading to a stop work order. 

Steps to Remove a DCRA Stop Work Order

Facing a DCRA stop work order can halt your construction project. Here’s a simplified guide to navigate the process and get back on track:

Keep the Orange Stop-Work Order Placard in Place: You should not remove the orange stop-work order placard. 

Complete Review Request Form for Stop-Work Order Compliance: Take time, complete your review request form for stop-work order compliance, and submit it to dcra.illegalconstruction2@dc.gov. You may also drop it to DCRA Office within 15 days of receiving your stop-work order. 

Designate a Single Point of Contact for Efficient Process Handling: Entitle single point contact to complete the process for avoiding delays. Nevertheless, you can add additional emails to be carbon copied on the correspondence. 

Await Email Communication from Administrative Reviewer: You will receive email communication from the administrative reviewer within five business days of your submission. The message will arrive at the email address that you have submitted on the form, containing a complete checklist of the items needed to resolve your stop order. In case, you don’t get the message within five days, check your spam folder. 

Review Specifications and Respond Promptly: The next step will be to review the specifications and reply to the message, mentioning the day you plan to come for submitting drawings, obtaining permits, or scheduling inspections if necessary. Immediate response is needed so that the administrative reviewer could temporarily lift the system hold for you. 

Coordinate Follow-Up Inspection with Illegal Construction Inspections: Just once you complete all items on the checklist, communicate with Illegal Construction Inspections  https://dcra.dc.gov/crm. You may also call (202) 442-STOP (7867) for requesting a follow-up inspection, verifying compliance. Always mention your address and contact details.

The inspector will inform the administrative reviewer whether your case is in compliance or not. However, you should not remove the stop-work order till approved by the administrative reviewer. 

Respond to Notice of Violation Regarding Fines: Consequently, you will get a Notice of Violation through the mail, imposing a penalty. You should follow the instructions and respond straight to the Office of Administrative Hearings about the fines. 

Dealing with Stop Work Orders Issued to Previous Building Owners

Receiving a stop work order meant for the previous owner can be frustrating. Breathe easy, though! Prompt action through DCRA can clarify the situation and potentially expedite getting your project back on track. 

3 Vital Steps  Actions to be taken  What are the Considerations? 
Understanding your liability 

Review Stop Work Order: 

  • Identify specific code violations or safety concerns cited.  
  • Analyze potential impact on your planned construction activities.  

Consult Property Records: 

  • Verify ownership transfer date and any outstanding violations listed.  
  • Investigate past construction permits and potential liens related to the order. 
  • Evaluate potential legal doctrines like “successor liability” or “strict liability” that may apply in your jurisdiction. 

 

  • Assess the financial implications of resolving the order, including potential fines and remediation costs. 
Contacting DCRA for resolution options 

Schedule Meeting with DCRA: 

  • Prepare a detailed chronology of ownership transfer and construction activities.  
  • Gather relevant documentation like property deeds, permits, and engineering reports.  

 

Discuss Resolutions with DCRA: 

  • Explore options for compliance, including corrective actions, plan revisions, or potential appeals. 
  • Negotiate timelines and potential financial penalties associated with resolving the order. 
  • Consider engaging a qualified professional (e.g., architect, engineer) to assist with technical aspects of addressing the violations. 
  • Understand potential permitting delays or additional inspections required by DCRA during the resolution process. 
Seeking legal advice 

Consult Construction Lawyer: 

  • Provide the lawyer with the stop work order, property records, and communication with DCRA.  
  • Discuss potential legal defenses or arguments challenging the order’s validity.  

Obtain Legal Guidance: 

  • Seek advice on navigating potential litigation with the previous owner or DCRA, if necessary.  
  • Understand the legal implications of any agreements or settlements reached with DCRA. 
  • Choose a lawyer with expertise in construction law and familiarity with DCRA regulations.  

 

  • Be transparent with the lawyer regarding any potential knowledge about the violation or past construction activities on the property. 

Final Thought:

Navigating the process of removing a Stop Work Order from DCRA can be complex, but with a clear step-by-step guide, it becomes manageable. Understanding the requirements, diligently addressing violations, and communicating effectively with DCRA officials are crucial steps towards resolving the issue swiftly and ensuring compliance with regulations. By following this guide diligently, you can successfully navigate the process and resume your project with confidence. 

Disclaimer: Please check the DC.gov website for the latest information. 


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