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
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
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.
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
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
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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
The third was to verify our woodstove was installed correctly and had a
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.
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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