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Old 11-19-2009, 11:36 AM   #1
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


We are adding a bathroom and in Denver you're able to take a test to perform your own electrical. I took test, passed and have had the various inspections up to the rough electrical and am now in a snafu. I had an original inspection and had 3 things I needed to fix.

Had to have a hard wired smoke alarm in newly created hallway, battery powered was not ok although I have smoke alarms in each adjoing room. Did this and put on a AFCI as required.

There was some old electrical work from a previous homeowner in the utility closet where the electric panel and meter are that had a spliced connection not in a box. Fixed this (had meant to do this at some point soon anyways)

Next pertained to NEC code 300.14 where the inspector wanted 6" of free length conductor outside face of box although the code really calls for 3" min and 6" total length. I did this where it was possible to do without having to re-run long lengths of wire and I do meet NEC code now everywhere but one box where I have a GFCI going I have 7" free but only 4.5" from face and he will not pass the inspection. He is also now wanting me to move my electric meter outside the house. The house had an addition put on it probably in the 70's I would guess as it is all wood paneling and they enclosed the meter.

What are my options? Can I just stop calling for inspections, take it to the court of appeals etc.? I have talked with his supervisor and as there is a bunch of good ole' boys in the electrical inspection department he won't budge either.

One thing I've learned is that I will never go through the permit process again because of jerks like this. All my other inspections have passes, plumbing, framing, insulation etc with no problems just this one guy is a complete jerk.

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Old 11-19-2009, 12:20 PM   #2
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Not to be hard on you, but violations are violations and even if you are right it does not matter. You do what the inspector wants. Everyone else has too. There have been times I have had to do things I knew were not code required but were special regulations for my jurisdiction and inspector preference. It is always much easier to do as your told. When you have a very good grasp of the NEC and you are certain you are right, you can question the inspector and ask for a code reference. If I were in your circumstance I would just do what he wants and forget about it. I would imagine it would be cheaper than pushing the issue. IMO.

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Old 11-19-2009, 12:44 PM   #3
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


The Inspector does have the right to make you fix anything that is out of code
When they built the additon the meter should have been moved
So you aree paying for someone else's failure to pull a permit & do it right
If they had pulled a permit they would (probably) have been required to move the meter

NEC code requires 3" outside the box, no more
My Inspector mentioned my wires were "short"
I said "Oh, I checked code & it said 6" from the sheathing at the back of the box"

He did agree but pointed out how little working wire I had outside the box to connect an outlet
I agreed....I have found that 6" is kinda short on the deep boxes I use
So I go with 8" now
He did not make me redo anything, it was for future work
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Old 11-19-2009, 12:54 PM   #4
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Your story is a perfect example of why, in 8 houses over a span 30 years, I NEVER pulled a permit for any work I did myself. Plumbing, electrical, framing, you name it. I did some or all of those things to every one of them. Between unreasonable martinets like your inspector and unreasonable requirements such as permit and inspection to replace an outlet, I wasn't about to subject myself to their whims.

Since it's impossible to hide the fact I'm building a complete structure, I was forced to get a permit for the log house my wife and I are currently building ourselves. Fortunately, the inspector is a reasonable person who seems to give a bit of leeway to DIYers once he sees you know what you're doing. We're within a couple of weeks of moving in and, interestingly, the only thing that has failed was the plumbing - and I had that done by a licensed plumbing contractor.
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:06 PM   #5
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


300.14 Length of Free Conductors at Outlets, Junctions, and Switch Points
At least 150 mm (6 in.) of free conductor, measured from the point in the box where it emerges from its raceway or cable sheath, shall be left at each outlet, junction, and switch point for splices or the connection of luminaires (fixtures) or devices. Where the opening to an outlet, junction, or switch point is less than 200 mm (8 in.) in any dimension (most two gang and one gang boxes and all in my situation), each conductor shall be long enough to extend at least 75 mm (3 in.) outside the opening.


I did indulge his smoke detector "violation" as I do meet code there. This is a 11 foot long hallway between the family room and a sunroom both of which have hard wired smoke detectors in them. I just don't want to re run a 65 foot run of wire for a single outlet that was an absolute pain to run in the first place to indulge him there nor do I want to pay the 1500-3000 it would cost to move the meter box when my electric co-op is ok with it (I called) but the inspector is requiring it.

Further more with the free conductor problem, with his requirement I will have to get nearly 10 feet of wire into a two gang box. Maybe I’m special and good with my hands but 3” outside the face of the box is plenty for me to work with and allows room for some error if you have 6” total of free conductor. I would think you’re creating more of an issue with heat because you’re creating greater resistance in the box having all that wire folded into the box. They should just make electrical boxes with compartments or something to put all the extra wire since any dimmer switch or GFCI outlet will take up a good portion of a common box.

I agree with you to md2lgyk, I will not pull permits most likely in the future. Heck my plumbing and framing inspector said this was much better work than they usually see from contractors. The insulation guy was there for like 2 minutes and said it looked "great".
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Old 11-19-2009, 01:32 PM   #6
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
The Inspector does have the right to make you fix anything that is out of code
Not what I meant to say....
They have the right to make you fix anything that NEVER met code
Here CO detectors are required on every floor....and everyone needs to update
If you are changing/renovating by 25% they can make you go hard wired for the whole house
Been there, had to do that

Doesn't matter if the CO-OP is OK with where the meter is
The Inspector is the one that counts, here meters are always outside
Some older homes do have the inside or in a 3 season porch
Not much of an issue since our meters are read by wireless

I don't agree with your Inspector on the free wire
I do try to keep only 2 wires to a box, but not always able to do that
I usually pigtail & still have room in the boxes - buit I use the deep boxes w/2x6 walls
Extra wire is for years down the road when that wire breaks off & you need to strip more wire
If you ever come across really short wires you'll curse the prior person who cut them short
--that was my last house

A lot of times DIY look better because we take more time
Maybe cause we are more worried what the Inspector will say
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Old 11-19-2009, 04:58 PM   #7
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Your options depend on your local regulations. You'd have to follow the local appeal process.

I'd start by asking the inspector to show you the code reference for the wire length - perhaps there is a local amendment that requires it. If he just says that's what the code is then whip out the NEC and show him your reference and tell him you'd be glad to give him all the time he needs to find the one he's thinking of.

As far as the meter - Explain that the permit that you have is for the bathroom and that it is not for moving the existing meter, that it would not even allow you to move the meter and that you have no plans to touch the meter. If he persists tell him you will get a permit to move the meter when you can afford it but in the meantime you would like the inspection for the current permitted work.

I definitely do not agree with or condone not getting permits when required. I have actually always appreciated getting inspections as a sanity check. In addition some communities can really nail you on unpermitted work.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:41 PM   #8
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Jogr, I appreciate your comments and advice. I think I will bring my code book from my office and ask where it says it is 6" from face and also talk about the meter being a seperate issue and would have to pull a permit for that sometime in the future when funds are available. I went though the permitting process for a check on my work as well and for me to be comfortable with the work as I haven't done an extensive project like this before.

I did research local building codes and honestly thought if anything the electrical was what I felt most likely to pass with plumbing my largest concern but I guess as long as you don't have leaks and it drains/vents properly they seem to like it

As a structural engineer we deal with a lot of reviewers and you run into the same there, where they want you to do it a certain way, although your design still meets code plus our company likes a large factor of safety but because it is different they don't want to approve it. And then there are other reviewers who appreciate thinking outside the box.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:47 PM   #9
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Scuba_Dave,
I would have to look through past codes and see when, or if it has always been the requirement, for meters to be outside or if it merely standard practice.

The house was built in the 20's and I have no clue for the addition but would guess late 60's to 70's.

I also understand about having extra wiring for future work but having 6 inches out of the box is excessive in my opinion. I ran into a issue when I first bought the house where I replaced an outlet and there was probably 2 inches to work with and maybe 1/2" past the face of the box.
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:31 PM   #10
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


I was reminded by one inspector "We don't care what the national code says, this is what we require".
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Old 11-19-2009, 06:35 PM   #11
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Quote:
I have 7" free but only 4.5" from face and he will not pass the inspection.
Don't roll over on **** like this.

Tell him to kiss your ass.

Fight the power.
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Old 11-19-2009, 07:20 PM   #12
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by md2lgyk View Post
Your story is a perfect example of why, in 8 houses over a span 30 years, I NEVER pulled a permit for any work I did myself. Plumbing, electrical, framing, you name it. I did some or all of those things to every one of them. Between unreasonable martinets like your inspector and unreasonable requirements such as permit and inspection to replace an outlet, I wasn't about to subject myself to their whims.

Since it's impossible to hide the fact I'm building a complete structure, I was forced to get a permit for the log house my wife and I are currently building ourselves. Fortunately, the inspector is a reasonable person who seems to give a bit of leeway to DIYers once he sees you know what you're doing. We're within a couple of weeks of moving in and, interestingly, the only thing that has failed was the plumbing - and I had that done by a licensed plumbing contractor.
What you don't realize is that the inspector doesn't go by whims. When he makes someone redo part of a job, there's always a code reference. Eventually those shortcomings will be discovered and someone will pay the price in terms of having to correct all outstanding code violations. The NEC itself is not enacted as part of anyone's whim. It's all tested and found to be true over the course of many years. It's all done for the sake of safety. Even if we don't understand the underlying reasons for a particular requirement. Eliminate confusion Through Education!!!

Last edited by spark plug; 11-19-2009 at 07:22 PM. Reason: Failed to Capitalize (First letter)
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:17 AM   #13
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


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What you don't realize is that the inspector doesn't go by whims.
Oh, but they surely do. In particular, the electrical inspector has allowed several things that are technically code violations. His reasoning? In one case he decided to allow an undersized box because he deemed mortising a deeper one into the wall of a log house was too much work for such a small violation. In another, he allowed the service entrance panel to be placed closer to a window than the code allows. Why? He was concerned that with the length of the run from the pole to the house being so long, moving the panel 10 feet might require the PoCo to pull new underground conductors. How's that for whims??

Here's my main problem with the whole process: I am an engineer, and whether it be my county, the next one over, or Timbuktu, the rules of engineering are the same - two plus two always equals four. There is never an instance where a particular jurisdiction decides that for them, it equals five. Or that it still equals four but in certain cases will allow it to equal six.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:08 AM   #14
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Electrical Inspector Permitting problems


Quote:
Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
What you don't realize is that the inspector doesn't go by whims. When he makes someone redo part of a job, there's always a code reference. Eventually those shortcomings will be discovered and someone will pay the price in terms of having to correct all outstanding code violations. The NEC itself is not enacted as part of anyone's whim. It's all tested and found to be true over the course of many years. It's all done for the sake of safety. Even if we don't understand the underlying reasons for a particular requirement. Eliminate confusion Through Education!!!
but the inspector is dinging him (at least with the free conductor length) for something that is clearly within code.


as to the fire alarm; that is not the electrical code (although the electrical inspector enforces it in many areas). It is a fire code and in many areas they do have rules that require the FA's be brought to current code compliance anytime any structural work is done.


meter inside a house? How does the POCO read the meter?

The meter inside or outside:

since the meter is inside, that means the service conductors are inside as well. Code requires the service conductors be brought to a disconnect as nearly as practical immediately inside the structure. If you have a meter inside, you most likely have a problem with the service conductors being inside as well. That is a serious violation in my eyes.


I am not familiar with code in your area but be sure there is not some state addendum or local addendum to the NEC that is applicable.
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Old 11-20-2009, 09:12 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by zedman View Post

I also understand about having extra wiring for future work but having 6 inches out of the box is excessive in my opinion. .
actually, having too much wire is a problem as well. I would have to hunt for it but allowing that much length spare would require you to consider it as an additional wire in box fill calculations. I do not think it reads exactly like that but there is a section that does state long conductors need to be considered in box fill calcs.

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