SIMPLE QUESTION REGARDING GRAB BARS


Hi everyone:
I have a complaint against me through the contractors state license board because I did not pull a building permit to install a few grab bars in a residence. There was no other work done. The only work done was to take 4-5 grab bars out of their boxes and screw them into the wall studs, pick up the trash and leave. End of story. There were two complaints, one was that I installed bars vertically and not horizontally (no room and no studs behind), then the state added that I had not pulled a permit. Grab bars can be installed any which way you want, verytically, horizontally, angled, etc. so that went nowhere but this "no permit" thing really startled me. I have NEVER pulled a permit for grab bars and don't know why I would have to since I am not altering the structure in any way.
Anyone have any info?
Thanks Tim
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My Word! Tell them to install the dam grab bars........
It sounds like you did the right thing.
You know, in a wall, that you cannot see in, who knows where any attachment is? I run in to this all the time.... sure you can tear down the wall and install blocking......what a mess...... Look for studs with a wall finder........ thru bolt, glue screw, you name it....... I do not know what to say.....welcome to the ADA and making a bathroom safe for everyone. Is this Calif.? State Con. Board? john

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Yep. California State Board. The ADA has no impact on residential. None. Anytime anyone gets out the ADA and starts quoting chapter and verse I have to stop them and inform that that the ADA doesn't apply. In this case, the state board supposedly retained an "expert" who put in a report that the grab bars, according to the manufacturer, HAD TO BE installed horizontally. I can't wait to see that. Also that I had to have a permit to install them. If I opened walls, installed blocking, etc. yeah, OK,maybe. But screwed them into a wall? So I can't install a paper towel holder or a towel bar without a permit, too? Sure. Makes sense...

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In my area the town has a web site that lists the common items of work that trigger the need for pulling a permit. http://www.northhempsteadny.gov/content/7350/7121/7237/4377/4379/default.aspx
Ask your licensing board contact to point out the written section where grab bars trigger the requirement. You will find many items of similarly small scope that don't, and you will most likely be able to get them to throw the complaint out. If they do not want to throw it out, tell them that you did not pull a permit as this requirement is obviously so new it is not even on their own books, but as a law- abiding contractor you would be willing to pay a fine if it does not get entered on your record. If you have never or rarely pulled permits that will be a tough sell.
R
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Thanks for the reply. I am actually on a retainer deal with a lot of insurance companies to do their workman's comp work. And when it comes to insurance companies, believe me, I am carefully watched. I don't even do work for homeowners anymore, only insurance companies. But you had better do it right, or my understanding is that they have a portable gallows and they bring it to the job site and hang your ass. This is not even doing work FOR lawyers. One side has a team of lawyers and they want everything they can get. The other side has a team of lawyers and they want to give the injured worker the absolute minimum. One day, on a job, I had more lawyers inspecting the work, than I had people doing the work. As far as permits, I have permits when they are needed. I called and was told that, no I did not need a permit. If I screw the bars into the wall, I do not need a permit. If I open the wall up to install blocking, I do need a permit. In this state, it takes no effort to convince the state that by contract, the contractor was supposed to have a brass band playing between the hours of 10 AM and 1 PM every day. You tell the state that and the state believes you if you are the homeowner. In this case, the homeowner told the state I needed a permit and the state believed her. I am guiilty until proven innocent. But if you really want a shocker, dig this: I knew that this homeowner was telling lies. So when the state wanted my sworn statement to the facts, I was told that my statement was under penalty of perjury, and everything I said was under penalty of perjury. BUT not the homeowner. The homeowner can lie, cheat, slander, and whatever else and the state won't come down on them. But if I tell a lie, it is a crime. Great system, huh? A very close friend of mine had a complaint on his license and it cost him nearly 25K out of his pocket to fix it, lawyer fees, etc. plus insurance premium raises, lost business, etc. Then he saw that the fine for being an unlicensed contractor was $250. Nice...
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I can't help you with your frustration level, so you will just have to deal with it or find another line of work, or work on jobs where you have more control over who you work for/with. By working for insurance companies you are asking to be put in the middle of difficult situations. The hostility a homeowner feels towards an insurance company that they believe is not doing right by them will, of course, spill over onto you. A state licensing board only has control over contractors and of course can't compel a homeowner to do anything. It is what it is.
R
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Yeah, what a system. A few years back I worked for many Bed and Breakfasts and larger quaint older lodgings in the Mendocino County Coast area. The owners had to upgrade some of their antiquated facilities to pass newer rulings concerning bathrooms, and access to lodgings.
Apparently there was a team of handicap folks/lawyers driving from town to town staying in these establishments only to find faults with the buildings access and bathrooms and then suing those for non appropriate conditions and bringing the Building Dept. into the picture.
Many of these older "Farms" and or Victorian/Queene Anne structures were originally built with none of the rulings in mind and thus they had that ambiance of an older structure/turn of the centruy antiquated feeling.
In many we had to tear apart the older rooms, and completely remodel with ADA compliance in mind.
Bathrooms ended up looking like a mens High School gym locker room. I do understand the reasoning behind this so that access is equally provided for those who do not have the mobility.
I also believe that those with less mobility may have to choose an easier path.
I do not want to get into the debate about ADA compliance etc.
We may have to provide facilities for dogs and cats also. Many pet owners bring their animals to these lodgings now also. Pet beds, potty rooms,doggy drink stations, outdoor fire hydrants......hummm
john
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You are probably right. I always looked at this work as "helping people", a bigger calling than just installing nice cabinets. I love(d) the aspect of changing lives and still feel that making a difference in people's lives is more important than installing a great looking sink base. Most people I have done work for love what I do, becasue I genuinely care(d) about helping them. But there are those that have SO much anger, it just doesn't make sense anymore. This person, according to the adjustor with the carrier, is a "professional injured person", that's their term. They get hired on somewhere and within a week or two, "OOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW", back injury. Past four employers like that. Just be happy one of them is not you.
Tim
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I am always right - just ask me! ;)

There's an old saw in contracting that 1 out of 5 customers will do everything possible to prevent a contractor from making a profit. The trick is to eliminate these people....that does not mean kill them! It means that you have to be willing to let some jobs go, even if it looks tempting, because the owner will have you working for free. You'll still have the risk, but no reward. That's a bad situation.
I wouldn't get bummed out on life/work because of a scam artist. Karma is effective and (s)he'll get the ungreased point of it eventually.
R
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On Tue, 27 Oct 2009 11:56:37 -0700, "Tim Conde"

What was the reason for the original complaint? The state didn't just do a random inspection, so I'm assuming the customer was dissatisfied. Did they contact you first before complaining?
As to code compliance, it is whatever the state and/or locality require. No need for opinions, the rules are going to be clear and written. I'd just check them.
I really wonder what the rest of the story is...
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*I'm thinking that since California is in a budget crisis that these people in the state license board are worried about their jobs. Consequently they are pursuing every complaint with a vengeance to justify the need for their services. Ultimately the OP may win his case, but at what cost?
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