warned on inspectors...

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by coach606, Jul 6, 2006.

  1. coach606

    coach606 New Member

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Illinois
    A couple of fellow DIY'ers, mostly old timers, have strongly cautioned me about consulting my plumbing inspector prior to beginning my work. I was planning on discussing my design with the inspector and seeing what he wanted to see.

    The warning was that some inspectors simply don't want to see non-plumbers do plumbing, period. I was told that he could simply order me to have a plumber do it if I asked him questions before I started. According to our code, homeowners are allowed to "pull" the permit on plumbing for their own home in our area.

    Has anyone had this experience of the inspector demanding a plumber?
  2. Bud1300

    Bud1300 Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Wetumpka Alabama
    The code will allowed the home owners to pull permits at their homes but the work has to be inspected, most of the inspecter in my town do not like this but they even give some of the plumbers a hard time . The city codes can change from city to city so i would check with them first.
  3. Wally Pfautz

    Wally Pfautz New Member

    Messages:
    34
    Plumbing Inspector

    I don't know if it's general experience, but I met my inspector and he seemed adversarial, very impatient and unwilling to advise me in the least. Didn't get a good reaction at all. That's a big reason why I'm on the forum seeking advice. Don't want to ask him anything! As for him demanding a plumber - I sure hope that doesn't happen. I can't afford one!

    In contrast, my building inspector and electrical inspector have been very easy to work with. Giving lots of guidance and being genuinely interested in my project. I've really learned a lot from them and know I will end up with a good product as a result.



    Hazel
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,799
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Even plumbers on some jobs, like commercial work, will contact the local inspector and consult first.

    Every inspector is different, and it's easier to do it his way, then to arque afterwards.

    There are many places that allow homeowners to pull permits.
    They sometimes require drawings, and sometimes not.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Inspectors

    The reason inspectors do not want to advise the customer about the work is;
    1. that even with a detailed drawing neophytes can, and do, install it wrong. If the inspector advised him'her they will accuse him of making the error, and he does not want the liability for that.
    2. They expect the installer to be conversant with the codes and not come running to them everytime they want some advice.
  6. coach606

    coach606 New Member

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Illinois
    inspectors have leeway on code...

    You're right, but most of the worry is not that I, or any other DIY'er, doesn't understand the code, but that inspectors don't have to accept something they don't like, even if it technically meets code. Heck, I'm going to do a wet vent once we clear zoning and although I got the design from a plumber on this board and it does meet IPC 2003 standards at least one person told me the inspector would laugh at the plan.

    We'll see, I guess. Thanks for replying.
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Inspectors are people that take there personalities with them. I had 1 inspector come back to reinspect a job on their time after work to help out a customer. On the other hand I had 1 inspector say that they wouldn't be back for 72 Hrs. because that is what state law allows.

    Most are helpfull but very few that I know will help a DIYr.

    I think they look at it like this, professional plumbers and inspectors have spent a lot of time to get where they are in respect to getting and keeping their licence and building a buisness. Why should they give away for free what they have earned with time and sweat and $$$. Most home owners wouldn't think of going to work and not getting paid for it.

    Here is a reason why 1 pro will no longer give away time and info free. I had a plumber friend that heard of a family that had a 5 year old girl with a seveer handi cap and was spending all their time at the hospital. They needed a handi cap bathroom installed for her but didn't have that kind of $$$. He spent his time and went to all the suppliers and received donations of product and he spent his time and paid his guys to install everything. The homeowner who said he would help with anything that he needed sat on the couch and didn't lift a finger. Toward the end of the job the home owner approached the plumber and asked him if he would do a little unrequired additional work. The plumber said yes but he would have to pay $400.00 for supplys. Homeowner said yes. The plumber finished. They were at the hospital at the time. All in all the He did about $6-7,000.00 worth of donated parts and labor. He sent the people an invoice. 2 months later he called about the unpaid invoice and was told he wouldn't receive a penny because the whole job had taken longer than he said it would take.

    My friend ripped up the invoice and vowed never to do anything like that again.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2006
  8. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    Fear of an adversarial inspector is not a reason to NOT get an inspection. That's like saying I don't like mean doctors so I'm not going to go to the hospital.

    You gotta take the inspector for whatever he is. Educate yourself b4 u talk to him. Don't ask advice. Just ask whether X is allowed or not. Also, ask him exactly what he requires for the inspection.

    Trust that he'll be reasonable and go from there.
  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    The good, the bad, the ugly

    I installed a completely new DWV system in an 1800s house in NY state back in the 70s and the inspector was very helpful and supportive. Here in FL, a friend building a new house was held up by an inspector who insisted on having a "thermal expansion valve" installed either at the water heater or at the supply entrance to the house. This on a house with a) an expansion tank at the well, and b) an expansion tank on the WH. They had to call multiple plumbing firms and supply houses to find someone who even knew what it was, let alone how to install it. Everyone said it wasn't necessary, but for $100 the inspector was happy.
  10. coach606

    coach606 New Member

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Illinois
    the horror stories...

    It seems most inspectors are reasonable. The stories that bother me are the ones where an inspector walks in and just says, hire a plumber. Or the rare, but possible scenario where you do a 100k remodel and the inspectors wind up asking you to do another 100k in work to bring the house up to code in other areas.

    Seems like most inspectors are reasonable and understand their job. I'm going to consult mine before the project. Hopefully he'll just tell me what he's looking for or what to change in my plans.
  11. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    If you don't bring it up to code then, you'd have to bring it up to code if/when you sell. Most inspectors will only inspect what's on the permit. They don't have the time to nitpick the rest of yr house.

    If you spent 100k on a remodel, you had better have had rough inspections when they are (relatively) cheap to fix.

    The point is, if you follow the permitting process, yr inspector may be a jerk, but he won't be able to screw you too badly.

    One last thing: doing things off permit can void your homeowners insurance. If you have a leak or a fire, and it was your fault, you better have some deep pockets....
  12. coach606

    coach606 New Member

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Illinois
    not true??

    I'm not sure about this, but I don't think you HAVE to bring things up to code when you sell. Lots of things in my house were not up to code when we purchased. We have tons of electrical not to code. You buy an old house and you get what you get. It doesn't prevent you from selling as far a I know.

    In fact, when we bought our condo there were some things not up to code and it was a new construction. We tried to negotiate to have some things brought up to code, but the developer just said that he would get to it eventually and that he doesn't negotiate code violations with a person buying one unit. They never did fix some of the problems.

    Thanks for the tip on homeowners insurance. I'm not doing any electrical. But if there's a leak, I guess we'll just handle it without insurance.
  13. coach boy,

    Post #5 is right.
    Post #6 is wrong for many reasons. Don't conjecturize. Learn code. You can do it. Don't skip steps and jump to conclusions.

    Plumbing is a difficult subject to master.

    DAvid
  14. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Local codes vary widely on bringing things up to code. Here, upon sale of a house, you will be required to have CA State Architect-approved earthquake straps on a WH, vacuum breakers on outside hose bibbs, 1.6GPF on all toilets, 2.5 gpms on all aerators, and home inspectors will gig for no GFI in the bathroom. Code doesn't mandate that last one, though, as far as I know.
  15. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    The buyer can ask anything he wants. You're required to be in compliance with the code at the time of the fix. If the code changes after the fact, you're not liable - unless you never got a permit.

    Of course, the buyer doesn't have to require you to fix anything if he loves the house so much.

    Anyway, sounds like you're comfortable doing it at yr own risk.
  16. jaynote1

    jaynote1 Plumber

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    southeastern nc
    had to reply to this one......

    here in my town we have some pretty good guys in the plumbing inspections dept...but what they tell a homeowner is not the same thing that they tell a professional plumber, especially one who has known them since before they became inspectors...the company i work for does WH installs(replacements) for national companies...a homeowner who was either curious or trying to stir up trouble consulted the insp dept and was informed that a permit was required for WH replacement...We install up to 6 or 7 WHs per day w/o permits, and have never had a bit of trouble with insp dept....When homeowner mentioned my bosses name to the inspector, everything became "very smooth" as far as the inspectors attitude, he knew the WH was being installed by a plumber who had been doing them for a long time, knew code, and would do an exemplary job....
    Also, where i live, unless they are "for sale by owner", houses sold by RE companies are required to undergo professional inspections, which has started a cottage industry of "professional inspectors", who will ping the most ridiculous items for correction...(for example, an 'inspector' told a homeowner that she needed to replace a WH because it 'was going to leak'.....)..........
  17. coach606

    coach606 New Member

    Messages:
    144
    Location:
    Illinois
    resale not a problem...

    You know, that's my fear about dealing with the inspectors. First off, I'm having my work inspected on this because there's really no way around it given my project.

    All I want is to be treated fairly by the inspector based on the work that I do. Of course, I know that some inspectors play favorites or are skeptical of DIY'ers, etc. It may be logical and their actions may be based on prior experiences, but it's still not fair and I think the best inspectors are solely judgin based on the quality of the work.

    I posted in the electrical section about the different quotes I've gotten for the electrical work. I'm being told that some items are needed because they are "code" but when I research and they appear not to be in the code, I'm told that the inspector will want them and I should call him and ask, that they've known each other for 20 years, etc.

    I just wish it was the code and nothing else. It's very complicated for a homeowner to sort out.
  18. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Any local jurisdiction can make the/any code more stringent than it is but can not make it more lax.

    The city I am from has changed but it used to be that you could only go straight up from a vent T and you could not 45 until you were above the flood rim.
  19. jaynote1

    jaynote1 Plumber

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    southeastern nc
    whats important....

    there is a very important phrase in most code books that is often overlooked, but it makes all the difference in the world, and that phrase is, "up to the discretion of the inspector".....Building inspectors are like the IRS, in that their say is final and there is no venue for redress..What the inspector says, goes.....a lot of DIY back off of their projects after they talk to inspectors....Im fortunate in that my boss is longtime acquainted with most of the inspectors, they know and admire him, and know that his work is going to be top-notch....we generally dont have any problems at all with the inspectors.....(I have seen an inspector get out of his truck at one of our sewer jobs with the approval stickers in his hand, not grabbing his spirit level or anything!).....we have a good relationship with city inspections and i intend to keep it that way....but they have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders, and they have to make sure that what they are inspecting is, at the very least, conforming to the letter of the code......consider THEIR liability, as if something disastrous happens with some project that THEY approved!!!..........
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2006
  20. JohnyChevyEG

    JohnyChevyEG New Member

    Messages:
    41
    Location:
    Smithville, MO
    Here in my area, if you add on a remodel without permits, and you dont want to get it inspected, you have add "as is" to the listing and you will typically lose a few thousand because of that. Also, if a buyer hires and inspector, and he gives a list to the seller, the seller can flat out refuse to do the changes, and it's up to the buyer to not buy the house, or buy it with those issues.

    As far as my city inspector, he is one cool cat. I called and asked someone to come out and look at my basement bathroom beforehand and tell me what permits I needed to pull so I could make sure everything was proper. He came out the same day, while I was at work, left his card. I called him back and he arranged to meet me at my house, before business hours, before I left for work. He was extremelly helpful, and told me exactly what he wanted me to do. He also helped me find the cheapest option for permits, and actually told me to just stop by his office the following day, and pay my permit fee and he would fill out all the paperwork for me. He did, and i've called him a couple of times since then with questions, and he has been very helpful. He told me that after I was done, just have him come out and check everything, he jsut wanted me to not cover anything up. I wonder if it is proper if I offer to buy him a beer or something after everything is all installed.

    Personally, I feel that if an inspector is rude to you because you are a DIY'er then that is pretty lame since you are the one paying his salary to begin with. They are there for you, not the other way around. It's too bad with big government, there is no way to have rude and improper inspectors get sanctioned.
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