Repairing home in Pennsylvania BS!

Bottom line is, if you wish to replace your bathroom faucet, you need a permit and have the finished job inspected! Give me a break!!!!
State's new construction code criticized
By Craig Smith TRIBUNE-REVIEW Monday, April 26, 2004 Homeowners who have been putting off replacing that water heater might want to get it done soon.
The state's new comprehensive building code puts even relatively minor projects like installing a new bathtub or building certain backyard sheds and decks under the scrutiny of building inspectors and code enforcement officers.
Opponents say the Uniform Construction Code, or UCC, will only increase costs and could stifle development. Proponents argue the code will protect consumers from unethical builders and set a statewide standard for construction.
Most lawmakers, builders and local municipal officials agree that a statewide building code is a good idea, but they say the one that took effect April 8 in Pennsylvania goes over the top. Communities have until July 8 to decide how to enforce the code.
The UCC sets uniform standards for construction of new residential and commercial structures and renovations to existing buildings. Until this month, Pennsylvania was one of only three states that had no such standardized building code.
Municipalities that "opt in" can choose to control enforcement and the series of inspections mandated under the new regulations themselves, or they can join with other municipalities through a council of government or similar group.
Those that "opt out" will rely on third-party inspectors or the state Department of Labor and Industry to make inspections and enforce the code.
"People are not going to take kindly to this," state Rep. Joe Petrarca said.
Petrarca, a Democrat from Vandergrift, said a building code makes sense, but this one is "government going too far."
"Most of my colleagues think we have a major problem on our hands," he said.
South Greensburg zoning officer Paul Fennell agrees that the new rules are excessive.
"Some things they want inspected are totally ridiculous. If you replace a bathtub in your home, you have to have it inspected," he said. A deck more than 3 feet high also will have to be inspected.
"There's just too much government intervention anymore. It's scary," Fennell said.
An individual, firm or corporation convicted of code violations could face fines of as much as $1,000 per day, plus court costs, for each violation.
Communities are coming to terms with the code in various ways. South Greensburg Council adopted it last month but ruled that contractors must hire their own inspectors.
Youngwood Council is holding a public forum at 7 p.m. today to explain the new regulations.
Youngwood borough Secretary Diane Hague, a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, said the water heater provision of the code is one of its most controversial. The basic home repair now comes under the auspices of inspectors who would check gas, water and electrical connections.
Some furnace repairs that might be considered routine maintenance also would need to be inspected.
The cost of inspections remains a point of contention. The Pennsylvania Builders Association says that based on rates in other states, each individual inspection will cost between $50 and $100. Under the code, some projects would require a minimum of five inspections.
State Rep. Dan. A. Surra, a Democrat from Fox Township, Clearfield County, has sponsored a bill to repeal the new code. This "mother of all mandates" will put some small contractors out of business, he said.
"What we should have done is license contractors," Surra said. "When this starts to kick in, there's going to be some unhappy campers."
Some lawmakers are suggesting the new code will have to undergo a major revision, at least.
South Huntingdon Township was hoping to use its own inspectors for the program, but it got few takers.
"We advertised about two years ago for someone to take the test. A couple of people went; most dropped out," supervisor Melvin Cornell said.
The new requirements will put a strain on the township, Cornell said. Communities that "opt in" must establish an appeals board to handle objections to an inspector's decision, and members may be hard to find in some locales.
Finding "qualified individuals" to serve on an appeals board may be especially difficult for smaller communities.
Irwin borough manager Mary Benko said it's difficult, at best, to fill vacancies on some boards and commissions. Finding an electrician, a plumber and a contractor to serve on a code appeals board likely will prove equally tough.
"They say you can use other municipalities' (boards) because the code is the same, but that won't happen," she said.
The Department of Labor and Industry. which has overall oversight for the code, estimates it will need 6,000 inspectors to cover the state, Surra said.
James E. Zimmerman Sr., of Ligonier Borough, is an electrical inspector for Accredited Services, based in Philadelphia. He's been conducting electrical inspections for 33 years.
Zimmerman, 74, said he's concerned that municipalities will join together and handle inspection services through a council of governments or some other alignment, putting him out of business.
"It's really been a pressure on me," he said.
Ligonier Township, for instance, has agreed to share a building inspector through the Indiana-Westmoreland Council of Governments. Zimmerman's hometown likely will join with Ligonier Township and other municipalities to get the best rates on inspections, Ligonier borough Secretary Jack Berger said.
In July, Hempfield Township supervisors expect to "opt in," township manager Rob Ritson said.
Part of Hempfield's largest commercial development could fall under the new code. The restaurants and hotel planned for the former Greengate Mall site being developed by THF Realty could come under the new regulations, he said.
Hempfield also has a number of subdivisions "in the hopper right now" that could fall under the new code, he said.
Builders say the Uniform Construction Code and its series of required inspections could add as much as $5,000 to the cost of each new home. Each structure must undergo a minimum of five preliminary inspections -- foundation, often preceded by a footer inspection; plumbing; mechanical and electrical; frame and masonry; and wallboard -- as well as a final inspection.
In municipalities where residential housing growth is helping to fill tax coffers, officials fear the new code will put the brakes on development.
"It will be culture shock for a lot people," Ritson said.
Under the new code the cost of building permits in Hempfield will go up, but the township will see less revenue, he explained. Most of the money will go not to the township, but to third-party inspectors instead.
Lawmakers generally agree that the uniform construction code is a good idea, but some say it got swallowed up in Pennsylvania politics. The bill authorizing the code passed in 1999 and was signed by then-Gov. Tom Ridge -- but it took four years to write the regulations.
North Huntingdon Township's planning director, Allen Cohen, said the township will "opt in," probably in May. Zoning officers Keith Evers and David Stitt will be performing inspections for the township.
North Huntingdon is trying to arrange conformity with neighboring municipalities so that building permits and other documents look the same, he said.
Cohen said the new code probably won't slow development in North Huntingdon, but might in smaller communities that don't have such a formal building process.
"We really have no other recourse in our developing community but to opt in. We don't want to defer to third-party (inspections)," he said. "It's going to be a learning curve for a lot of us."
Craig Smith can be reached at snipped-for-privacy@tribweb.com or (724) 850-1217. **********************************************************
Pennsylvania's new Uniform Construction Code adopts these codes for use throughout the commonwealth: *    International Building Code 2003 *    ICC Electrical Code 2003 *    International Energy Conservation Code 2003 *    International Existing Building Code 2003 *    International Fire Code 2003 *    International Fuel Gas Code 2003 *    International Mechanical Code 2003 *    International Performance Code for Buildings and Facilities 2003 *    International Plumbing Code 2003 *    International Residential Code 2003 *    International Urban-Wildland Interface Code 2003
Source:Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
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They did this in a county in Kentucky and afterward the homeowner could no longer do a quality job himself. Instead he had to accept sub-standard work from protected contractors who had little incentive to do a good job. It is good to have the pro's in competition with the homeowner, it keeps the pro's on their toes doing a good job. Many codes are not about quality, they are about protecting the financial interests of selected groups. I think you already surmised as much.
Bob
or (724) 850-1217.

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In Cary NC Toll Brothers built close to 100 houses with floor joists too close to the fireplace firebox. Code violation discovered when one fireplace caught the house on fire. Shows the value of inspections.... zero. In this case Toll Brothers did the right thing and fixed all of the defective houses even though it cost them close to 3 grand each.
or (724) 850-1217.

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Art wrote:

Inspections?
Bob
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work
is
pro's
I am not a contractor and it will affect me because I own/maintain a few apartments in PA. I think it is too much government interfearence. But I don't agree that all homeowners know their limitations and are capable of doing a quality job. There were 2 serious deck failures in my area last year. One created a quadraplegic. Both were because the ledger board was not correctly attached. They how about the guy who set a complex on fire (with fatalities) because he didn't understand combustible clearance requirements when installing a wood stove. How do you address this?
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In Cary NC we've had deck failures of INSPECTED contractor built decks.

no
are
not
requirements
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Get a grip, pal. You can still replace your bathroom faucet without having it inspected. Pat
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Do you have a link to this?
or (724) 850-1217.

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