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In general, you'll want to understand the City's building requirements before starting your construction project. Please view the Home & Property Improvements guide to get started.
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Unfortunately, no. This would be a conflict of interest and is prohibited by the State. There are however several resources available to you as a Shaker resident:
Remember any contractor performing work that requires a permit, exterior painting, landscaping, or hot work activity is required to be registered with the City. The list of currently registered contractors can be accessed here.
Your relationship with the contractor is a contractual one. Violation of the contract should be referred to the police or an attorney. While the Building Department will pursue code violations a contractor may commit, violation of a contract is outside the Department's jurisdiction. The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs also provides resources and assistance for County residents with complaints against businesses, including contractors.
The minimum maintenance standards for commercial and residential properties are outlined in the Codified Ordinances of the City of Shaker Heights and can be found below:
The Shaker Heights Landmark Commission maintains a list of specialty contractors (PDF) with experience in repairing original building materials. The Cleveland Restoration Society is another wonderful resource for information about original materials for your older home. Talk to your neighbors and get references! Visit the Landmark Commission page for additional resources.
All residential work that requires a building permit must be inspected for compliance with the Residential Code of Ohio. Likewise, all commercial buildings must comply with the Ohio Buidling Code. View a complete list of applicable codes.
The Historic Building Cards database includes information gathered from over 10,000 index cards formerly housed in the Building department. The original cards were created for each new building in Shaker Heights and typically include information such as the date the home was built, the names of the home's architect, builder, original owner, and the estimated cost to build the home. To find your home's information, visit Shaker Building Card Index. The City only retains residential plans for a period of three years. However, local history archives at the Shaker Library may have plans for your home.
The national safety standard recommendation is that chimneys, fireplaces and vents should be checked annually. If unused for some time, or if you have just moved into a new house, then they should be checked first. Use a certified chimney sweep who brushes from the top down (not just from the inside). A certified sweep will also put a camera or a mirror down the chimney first to check the condition of the flue liners.
Please use our online form to submit a property complaint. While we would prefer to have your name and phone number so we can contact you with any questions, we will take and investigate anonymous complaints.
In any home built before 1978, lead paint may be present. Lead can be in paint or in the water as a result of leaching from older pipes.
Any construction work that creates a noise disturbance in a residential area is not permitted during the following times:
Monday–Friday, 7 pm to 7 am
Saturday and Sunday, 5 pm to 9 am
Under certain circumstances, a variance to work outside of the permitted hours may be granted on a case-by-case basis. To request a variance, please email or call Shaker Heights Police Commander Mike Rowe at 216-491-1245. Include dates and hours for the work, equipment used, location, and a justification for your request.
The City does not regulate paint colors. However, Shaker Village Colors (PDF), a publication describing historic home colors, is available for download at no charge. This book describes the architectural styles prevalent in Shaker Heights and provides appropriate paint schemes for each. You may purchase a printed copy of the book in the Planning Department office for $6.50.
Abrasive cleaning methods (sandblasting) are not safe for historic masonry. Chemical cleaners are another option for cleaning your historic masonry. Do not use in cold weather (same hazards as water cleaning). Test first: Chemicals can stain, etch, or burn the surface. Always rinse thoroughly and test the surface for a neutral pH.
Use on non-acid sensitive masonry, such as:
Use on acid-sensitive masonry, such as:
Paint removal is most successful with alkaline, organic solvent, or other chemical paint removers.
Please see the pre-approved shingle colors (PDF) for general shingle color guidelines. Please call 491-1430 for complete information.
Use binoculars to see what's going on in the fall, before the freeze/thaw cycles; in the spring, see what the freeze/thaw did to your roof, checking for loose, cracked or missing slates.
It is also important to look in the attic for evidence of leaks, and to make sure gutters and downspouts are in good working order. If there is a leak, it is often the metal flashing at the seams, valleys and ridges of the roof is the real culprit. Slates usually outlive their flashing. Even copper flashing, the best in the business, typically lasts only 60 years (a spry and youthful age for most types of slate). Often, slate and wood shingle roofs are removed because of problems with flashings.
Sindelar, who coordinated a City-sponsored workshop on slate and shake shingles in 2001, cautions that before replacing a slate roof with something else, "You have to look at the economics of it." Because building codes prohibit putting new roofing material over a slate roof, the existing slates must be removed before their replacement may be laid down. That cost should be factored in.
According to the National Park Service, if over 20% of the slates on a roof or roof slope are broken, cracked, missing or sliding out of position, it is usually less expensive to replace the roof than to execute individual repairs. This is especially true of older roofs nearing the end of their serviceable lives, because even the most experienced slater will likely damage additional slates while attempting repairs.
The slates reaching the end of their serviceable lives are flaking and crumbling. At that point layers of mud that make up the slate are separating.
Slate is one of the three original, acceptable roofing materials for new homes constructed by the Van Sweringen company. The City urges owners of homes with slate roofs to maintain them and consider carefully before replacing them with any other material.
Slate roofs can last 200 years or longer, depending on the type of slate used, the configuration of the roof and the geographical location of the property, according to a bulletin published by the Technical Preservation Services arm of the National Park Service. By contrast, the average life span of an asphalt roof is about 30 years.
Two additional factors help determine a slate roof's life span: how the roof was installed and how well it has been maintained. In Ohio, well-maintained slate roofs on farmhouses and barns often date to the late 1700's.
Wood windows are the soundest option. They are structurally strong, weather well against the elements (many Shaker Heights homes still have their original windows, which are averaging 80 years old), and they allow flexibility with exterior and interior color schemes. Wood windows are also available with aluminium cladding on the exterior to increase weather resistance and lower maintenance.
The installation of vinyl windows can have a significant visual impact on a house. The color selections are limited and the frames of the windows are wider, as vinyl is not as strong as wood. The wide frames make the new windows look very heavy and can create an unbalanced proportion to the appearance of the house. Shop around. Window replacements, regardless of material, can be an expensive project. Paying a little more up front for quality materials, flexibility in color and increased details will ultimately add value to your home.
Vinyl windows are not permitted in local landmark properties or districts.
Not necessarily. Often only the defective parts of a window may actually need repair or replacement. Consult with contractors who specialize in older window repair before replacing the entire unit. Repair of existing windows is often far less expensive than replacement.
The Shaker Heights Landmark Commission maintains a list of specialty contractors (PDF) with experience in repairing original building materials such as wood windows.
Before undertaking any project, look at your house critically. Notice the fine details of craftsmanship and compare the new product against what is currently installed on your home. How drastic is the proposed change? There are a large number of window manufacturers that fabricate new wood windows that replicate those fine profiles found on older windows.
Another important thing to do is determine the architectural style of your house. Most Shaker houses fall into one of three broad architectural styles: English, French and Colonial. Traditionally, the windows are the same color as the trim on the house. Shaker Village Colors (PDF) describes these styles of architecture (along with other common styles) and shows the appropriate color schemes for these styles of houses.
No. The City requires contractors to meet certain insurance, bond, and Ohio Construction Industry Licensing Board requirements based on the type of contractor registration.
Property owners are responsible for maintaining the public sidewalk adjacent to their property. The Public Works Department manages the City’s sidewalk repair program. Please view the Sidewalks page for detailed information.
Certain repairs require permits; others do not. Start by viewing our list of projects that do NOT require building permits. If your project is not on this list, then visit Building Permits to get started with your permit applications.
Many residents receive solicitations from utility companies offering utility line protection, a type of insurance policy that’s also called a “home protection program” and a “utility line warranty.” This additional protection covers the cost of repairs to utility lines that run to or inside a home. Insurance and warranty plans are offered by all major utility companies, including FirstEnergy (Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co.), Dominion Gas, Cleveland Division of Water, and IGS Energy, as well as other providers.
In many cases, homeowners almost never need to replace or repair their utility lines. However, when a water line, sewer line or electrical line does break, it can cost thousands of dollars to repair.
Consider the following before purchasing utility line insurance:
An alternative to utility line insurance is for homeowners to set aside a budgeted amount of money each month as a home repair emergency fund. This enables consumers to select their own contractors, rather than defaulting to the insurance provider’s contractors. Of course, homeowners who decide to purchase utility line insurance always should shop around, speak to several providers, and reference the Better Business Bureau.
Rates vary and some are packaged together while others offer each service separately with individual monthly rates for each service. Some companies charge $3 to $10 per month. Others offer a one-time annual payment of $36 to $120. Fees usually cover $1,000 to $4,000 in applicable repairs or replacements. Most policies have a cap on the amount of coverage provided.
Coverage depends on the provider. Generally, only repair or replacement of a line or appliance is covered, not damage to personal property caused by a leak or break. For sewer coverage, most only cover sanitary sewer lines, not storm sewers. Typically, the following situations are NOT covered:
Find more information on Home Utility Line Insurance Programs from the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (PDF).
The following information is from Cleveland Water’s website: Discolored water is common whenever the water velocity or flow direction changes, like during hydrant flushing or repair work on water mains. Iron sediment from older cast iron mains is picked up by the water and shows up as orange or brown discoloration. In these situations, the water is safe to drink. However, use care as the iron sediment can stain laundry and plumbing fixtures. Once any work or flushing is complete, run your cold water faucet until the water is clear again.
View all Cleveland Water FAQs.