Do you ever get "permits"?

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Yep, it always surprised me how little the inspectors actually looked at the work we had done. Still, if the areas they saw were done well, the odds of everything else being up to the same level are good.
When we built our garage the new female inspector showed up in dress shoes. She didn't want to get her shoes dirty on the muddy construction site, so she just looked at a distance from the driveway. :)
In contrast, the female inspector who did the final inspection on our house really got into it. She climbed under the house and crawled all around the crawlspace to make sure plumbing, insulation, vapor barrier, etc. had been done correctly. She really impressed me.

Permits should be priced by the job, not by the status of the person performing the work. Just because you're a "professional" doesn't necessarily mean you'll be doing things correctly. In fact, an owner/builder (one who cares anyway) will probably make a stronger effort because it is their own home.
I had several inspectors comment I should come teach the contractors how to do things properly. I have no formal construction training, I just study each task as much as possible before starting and try to go above code minimums. All of my inspectors were great to deal with, and helpful with any questions I had. I built good relationships with several of them.
We built our house and garage ourselves and never had a single correction notice.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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On Sat, 30 May 2015 04:59:09 +0000 (UTC), HerHusband

The fact at the end of the day is most code compliance by the trades is simply what they do as common practice, not that they actually could cite the code.
A trade who builds essentially the same house, day to day will end up doing them all pretty much the same. Once he has it, he has it. The trade should also have all of the right materials, where a homeowner is more tempted to use what they have or what they find at the store. A homeowner is doing some things for the first time and the violation he makes may not be something an inspector would even think about so they may not look, particularly if they are pressed for time. The homeowner is also more likely to ask more questions. That is not a bad thing but time is money.
If the building department is running tight, the inspector could simply tag anything they don't like and make up the money in reinspection fees. I guarantee, I can find some technical violation on just about any job, pro or amateur. Inspectors usually do try to actually identify hazards, not violations.
When I worked for the state we had inmates, park rangers and handymen, doing electrical work. My inspections always took longer than an inspection for a trade. It didn't really matter because I was not on any real time constraints and it was all "funny money" between state agencies but it was clear the permit fees should have been higher for :"in house" work if I was actually justifying my time.
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Agreed, though routine can often turn to laziness or cutting corners. As you said, time is money, and most will do whatever they can to save time. Also, someone who builds the same thing day after day may not keep up on recent code changes. They just build it the way they've always done it.
I admit I am probably the exception when it comes to homeowners, but I always study both the code and the common practices to do the best job I can. It's my home and I want to do the best job possible. You know the saying "if you want it done right, do it yourself". :)

That was one of the more frustrating things we encountered when we built our house. You would think items required by code would be widely available in stores. But I had to order many items online because the local stores didn't carry them, especially for plumbing. Even many of the specialty electrical and plumbing supplies didn't have some of the items we needed.
I also saw many items in stores that are not allowed by codes, like female threaded PVC fittings (they tend to split open and leak).
When I remodeled my in-laws house a few years ago, codes had changed to require tamper resistant electrical outlets. Naturally, I had a difficult time finding them at the home centers. I eventually found one small box hidden down on a bottom shelf. :) That was one of the few corrections I had when remodeling my in-laws house. I just did things the way I had always done using the outlets that were commonly available. I got lazy and didn't take the time to research the recent codes.

I remember when our first electrical inspector showed up. He hopped out of his truck, grabbed his clipboard, and started walking to our house. When he looked down at the clipboard and saw we had wired our house ourselves you should have seen his face drop. :) He went from happy/serious to "oh my god", like I had just ruined his day. All before he stepped foot in the house. :)
I still remember his first comment when he came through the door, "lets talk about electricity", like I knew nothing about it. I chuckled, no problem, I'll play along maybe I'll learn something. About two minutes into the inspection his face lit up, he was smiling again, and he kept saying things like "nice", "very good", etc. He gave everything the OK, then he talked for some time about how poorly most of the professional jobs were done in the expensive McMansions he usually inspects.
Nice guy, but I'll never forget that first moment when he arrived. :)
The only inspector I ever had an issue with was the electrical inspector for my in-laws house. He always arrived angry and irritated and I swear he was determined to find SOMETHING wrong with our work. I tried to keep things polite and upbeat and gladly fixed whatever he had an issue with. We got through that job fine but his attitude made things so much worse than they needed to be. I hope he went on to do something he enjoyed more.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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On Sat, 30 May 2015 17:40:29 +0000 (UTC), HerHusband

Mass market retailers are not really going to care much about codes. They stock what sells and that is going to be the 49 cent bulk packaged device, not the $2.50 TR device.
They also have to deal with staggered adoption of the various codes. Florida is just adopting the 2011

I think there is a certain amount of burn out in this profession. Some things can be interesting but most of it is mind numbing repetition, particularly if you are only doing 1&2 family. That is what made my state job interesting. I was never sure what would be next. If the state built it, I inspected it. Things that seem boring are sometimes the most interesting. A toll booth is a good example. There is really a lot going on there but most of it is under the road. (6-10 feet under the road)
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I got the impression most of my inspectors really enjoyed coming out to see our projects. It was something different in their daily routine, and since I usually had the same inspectors they had fun watching our progress. Especially when I would implement suggestions they recommended.
My favorite inspector reminded me of an English butler and had built his own house years earlier. So he really seemed to take an interest in what we were doing.
We heard a lot of horror stories about dealing with inspectors, but we really had good experiences with all of them. Great memories...
Sadly, those days are probably behind me. I don't forsee any major construction projects in my future.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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On 5/31/2015 2:11 AM, HerHusband wrote:

Most inspectors are just interested in finding a job well done. They can be very helpful. Like any profession with authority, there will be a couple that like to show how important they are.
When I lived in a large east coast city, you always had an envelope to hand the inspector when you showed him the permit.
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And how much were you supposed to put in that envelope?
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On 5/31/2015 9:48 AM, Ignoramus9277 wrote:

For the work we were doing, mostly kitchen rebuilds, $20 was enough. That was 1970 money.
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I had electrical work done by a company whose license was pulled by the city of Chicago. A garage fire across the alley took out a leg of my service (30 amp fused). No longer code. Their license was pulled because they wouldn't "work with" the inspectors. They simply had licensed friends pull the permits. Perfectly legal. The founder of the company (he had 11 sons working for him!) was wearing a wire for the feds. Mike Royko wrote a column about it when it was over. Trouble is too many electrical contractors were "working with" the inspectors. I got so pissed at one of them I had to chase him off my property. He gave me a price about twice as much as the guy he scared me away from, which I was willing to pay because I didn't want inspector trouble. $1000 versus $450. He told me they "bought their permits" when I told him his price was twice as high. I called the honest guy back because I thought he was honest and told him I was disappointed he hadn't told me that they were unlicensed and "bought their permits." He didn't argue, but told me they do legit work. I said sorry, I was going with the licensed company. The next day an inspector came by and found two minor violations in the basement he said to fix. He pointedly told me he wasn't going upstairs. Twice. I had a circa 1920's two-flat and it was all out of code. The day after that the guy I was going to hire came back to finalize our business. He wanted to check out all floors. I told him what the inspector said. About ten times until I had enough of his bullshit about his "reputation" and sent him packing. Had to practically chase him to his Gold Wing. We were both cussing. Went back in and called the first guy. I just told him the job was his. When he came to do the work he said "Thought I lost you." I told him about the bullshit the other guy was trying to feed me. He explained how the permitting worked. Worked out well. Him and about 5 of his brothers knocked it out fast. Also put in about 6 wall switches at $25 per. I did the plastering and painting. I didn't have enough money to pay him and he said pay me when you can. I was between jobs. Think it was about 1982. He got paid fast. He told me later about the federal investigation when he returned some camping books he had borrowed. Remember books? Same inspector came back and okayed the work. He didn't go upstairs.
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8:05 PM (58 minutes ago)Percival P. CassidyIt may not be just the fee that is charged: if the municipality knows that the property has been upgraded, doesn't that give them an excuse to up the taxable value and therefore the taxes as well? Perce
Boy, you sure are cynical, and unfortunately, absolutely on the nose!!!!
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On Monday, May 25, 2015 at 2:05:55 PM UTC-5, Anthony wrote:

For those folks who do their research about a contractor's reputation, a permit is not necessary.
Some cities have signs posted that say that contractors must be registered with the city.
They may want to protect residents, but I suspect that many cities just want some extra revenue.
Doing a job safely is a primary concern of mine.
I have turned down jobs where the customer wanted me to cut corners.
Andy
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On Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 11:02:30 PM UTC-4, Andy wrote:

That's an oxymoron. A reputable, honest contractor is going to make sure the proper permits are pulled. His reputation isn't going to be very good when he gets shut down by the inspector, has to do work over, tear it out, etc. Plus in some instances, a contractor is going to wind up in some kind of dispute with the homeowner. In which case, not having permits has a good chance of getting back to the inspector, being a point against the contractor if it goes to court, etc.
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On Thu, 28 May 2015 09:35:46 -0700 (PDT), trader_4

It is simpler than that in states like Florida where a contractor doing unpermitted work will lose his license and face fines. The reality is, an unlicensed person has far less to fear than a licensed contractor. Other than stop work orders, a homeowner really have little to fear.
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Anthony wrote:

Of course if it is needed. Insurance companies don't like things done without permit where it is required.
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On 5/28/2015 10:31 AM, Tony Hwang wrote:

In the 49 years I've owned houses, no insurance company ever set foot on my property. How would they know?
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I ran into an insurance inspector nosing around the outside of my house once.
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Ed,

My insurance agent has been out a few times.
The first was to photograph and take measurements of our old mobile home when we bought it.
The second was to photograph and take measurements of the new house we built.
The third was to verify our woodstove was installed correctly and had a valid permit.
Basically, they would not sign us up for a new policy until they had actually seen what they were insuring. Personally, I find that better than the county assessors office. Years ago they pulled in our driveway and without even getting out of the car wrote down that we had a 3-bedroom, 2 bath house. I just happened to catch them before they pulled out to correct them it was actually a 2-bedroom, 1 bath mobile home. Otherwise we would have been taxed on the larger home back then.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Locally there was an incident when house had a fire, it was blamed on basement electrical wiring which home owner did without permit. Insurance co. refused to pay out for the damage caused by the fire. Our city allows DIYs do the wiring and permit is only like 20 bucks. Inspector will check things twice at the beginning and at completion. In my case he came down to basement look at one outlet box, asked my wife what I am. She said, EE working for Honeywell. Then he did not look any further. Peace of mind is the thing in case of unexpected.
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The fire department usually tries to determine the cause of the fire.
--
Dan Espen

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