John Drayman's condo still in turmoil

After the latest round of inspections last week regarding a controversial renovation to his condominium, the headaches still haven’t dissipated for former Glendale City Councilman John Drayman.

For months, Drayman has been working to secure proper building permits for a disputed $213,000 renovation, which was originally reported to the city as being worth $30,000 — an error he has blamed on the contractor, National Fire Systems & Services Inc.

Drayman has since disputed National Fire’s price tag, included in a lawsuit, asserting that he paid about $117,000 for the project.

The work became mired in controversy amid allegations that National Fire Systems & Services performed the work at the behest of Advanced Development Inc., an affordable housing developer that allegedly bilked millions from Glendale and other cities by overbilling for construction.

Since that time, Drayman has paid about $2,819 in permit fees and fines to legalize the project. After multiple inspections, city building officials paid Drayman another visit last week to ensure that 10% of the work on several outstanding permits for plumbing, electrical and other items had been completed. That benchmark allows for an extension to be granted if the work has yet to be finished.

While most of the issues have been resolved, one permit remains unfulfilled and is being reviewed by the city attorney’s office, officials said.

Meanwhile, National Fire Systems & Services is seeking to foreclose on Drayman’s condominium to recoup what the firm claims is about $98,000 — plus 10% per year interest since November 2010 — on what it describes in a lawsuit as a roughly $213,000 project. The firm filed a lien on the property in April 2011, according to court records.

The ADI subcontractor also wants the right to purchase Drayman’s condo at the foreclosure sale.

Drayman said National Fire did not have a valid contractor’s license when the company began working on his condo, making the claims moot.

“When someone acts as a general contractor and performs unlicensed work, the courts provide no means for any financial recovery, and that the owner can ask the court to compel the unlicensed party to disgorge all monies paid to them by the property owner,” Drayman said in an email.

Mediation hearings and settlement conferences on National Fire Systems & Services foreclosure case are scheduled for next month, according to court records. If those efforts fail, a jury trial is scheduled for July 9.

Sevak Bagumyan, an attorney for National Fire Systems & Services, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

National Fire only secured city permits after the fact, and even then, the company only included work worth $30,000 in its applications. National Fire’s March 2010 contract states permits were not included in the estimate, but Drayman said National Fire was responsible for them and billed him later.

Venus Stromberg, a spokeswoman for the California Contractors State License Board, said the law does not specify who’s responsible for securing the construction permits, but added, “but you as the contractor have got to make sure that you have one.”

Drayman passed most of the inspections on Thursday and was given a 180-day extension to finalize electrical work because he met the 10% benchmark. The city attorney’s office is reviewing the permit for mechanical work, which was less than 10% complete, said city spokesman Tom Lorenz.

Mechanical permits cover gas piping, heating and ventilation and ducts.

“We will work with him to bring him into compliance,” Lorenz said.

In the meantime, the foreclosure case is moving forward. National Fire claims its lien is in line with state law giving contractors 90 days to file after a project is completed.

Drayman contends he stopped the work in September, roughly 200 days before the lien was filed.

He also said he’s filed a complaint against National Fire with the Contractors State License Board.

Citing privacy protections, Stromberg said she could not reveal if a review of National Fire was in progress, only that one had not been carried out. If a contractor violates state laws, their license could be suspended or revoked. Additionally, the contractor could face fines of up to $5,000, she said.

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