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Old 10-19-2008, 01:36 AM   #1
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Help With Code Violation


Here's my story. Please offer advice, suggestions, anything if you can.


In July 2007 my husband and I purchased our first home- a fixer upper in IL. We planned to rehab the entire place. My father in law was a licensed contractor for 30+ years before he retired so he did a majority of the work (along with help from my husband). My father in law also lives with us. We thought that we only had to get permits for the work that we were hiring out for so we only got a drywall permit. Everything else was done by us.

After about 12 weeks of work, a code inspector came knocking on our door to ask about a dumpster that we had outside (we had a permit for the dumpster). He came into our home and made us stop everything. At this point we were about 95% complete with our rehab. He said we didn't have permits for electrical and plumbing but we told him that it was our understanding that if the homeowners did the work then we didn't need one. He put a stop work order on the door and we ended up going to court and paying a $250 fine.

Inspectors came out and gave us a list of things we needed to change. Some of them were very minor (some outlets) but there was one MAJOR thing that they want us to do. We used a combination of conduit and BX for our electrical (we installed recessed lighting througout the house) and they said we have to tear out all the BX and replace it with 100% conduit. So basically we have to tear up our entire home to do this. Keep in mind that we rehabbed this whole place. It was a dump when we bought it (rotting floors, cat urine, unkept in every way imaginable) and we redid everything from top to bottom- new floors, windows, kitchens, bath, lighting, added a fireplace, etc.

They told us to get architectural drawings and we hoped that if we showed everything we did then it would be ok. We spent $4000+ for the drawings and they still wanted us tear out the BX and replace it and we have to use a licensed electrician. We got some quotes to do the work and it was $8k to $10k. We absolutely cannot afford this.

Right now the situation is such a burden and I don't know what to do. I find it very unfair that they are asking us to do this. Its impossible for us to come up with this kind of money. An entire year has passed and it is still looming over our head.
Can someone offer some advice about what we can do?

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Old 10-19-2008, 06:37 AM   #2
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pchicago, BX and romex are used safely in many other areas of the country to wire residences. However, in the Chicago area, the electric code requires 100% conduit. Since you're now in the spotlight (as far as the building dept. is concerned) I don't see any other choices. Hopefully you'll get a local electrician who'll keep the damage to a minimum. Try working with the inspector and ask if you need to re-gut the entire place, or just show that you've replaced the BX with pipe. Wish I had better news. pete

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Old 10-19-2008, 07:59 AM   #3
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Unfortunately there is probably not much you can do. Your area has some very stringent local codes (much stricter than the NEC), and you didn't follow them.

These codes are written in black and white and everyone has to work by the same codes.

This often happens with DIYers who think they will save some money by doing things themselves but don't know the codes, so in turn end up costing themselves much more than if they had hired a professional in the first place.

I wish I could give you some great advice that would give you a happily ever after to your story, but I don't think that is going to happen. I would work with the inspection office as much as you can to keep the cost to the minimum that they require, but this is going to cost you to fix.

As you have found out, there is much more to the electrical trade than just "making it work".
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Old 10-19-2008, 08:01 AM   #4
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I know you don't want to hear this, but the inspector is right.

You were EXTREMELY mistaken in that you did not need permits, especially in Chicago. Who told you this? They are who I would be mad at.

True, a homeowner can usually do anything they want in their own home, but they still have to go through ALL the same channels as real contractors do. This goes for all permits and inspections.
This would have avoided all the problems you are having right now.

I vigorously disagree with Chicago's stupid "all conduit" rules, but thankfully I don't live or work there. That said, the inspector very much does have the right to make you rip it out and correct it.

Sorry.
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Answers based on the 2008 & 2011 NEC.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pchicago View Post
We spent $4000+ for the drawings and they still wanted us tear out the BX and replace it and we have to use a licensed electrician. We got some quotes to do the work and it was $8k to $10k. We absolutely cannot afford this.
they said you had to have a licenced electrician? in Mi., if you are homeowner, you're ok to do your own wiring and plumbing, subject to rough-in and final inspections. maybe chicago is different, but i hope it's worth the asking. it would save you LOTS of $$$ that way.

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Old 10-19-2008, 11:27 AM   #6
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I agree with DM. Most all jurisdictions have whats called a "Homeowners permit". These permits are sold to homeowners so they can legally do their own work. However, they are required to be inspected just as if a contractor had done the work.
Some jurisdictions will give a variance. Basically a judgment allowing you to do something that normally is not allowed in unusual circumstances. I would think your situation would warrant the variance, but I am not the AHJ.
Good Luck,

Ps......Variances are most always allowed or denied before the project is permitted.

Last edited by J. V.; 10-19-2008 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
In July 2007 my husband and I purchased our first home- a fixer upper in IL. We planned to rehab the entire place. My father in law was a licensed contractor for 30+ years before he retired so he did a majority of the work (along with help from my husband). My father in law also lives with us. We thought that we only had to get permits for the work that we were hiring out for so we only got a drywall permit. Everything else was done by us.
Unfortunately this is all to common. It is rather odd that a seasoned contractor didn't know the requirements for permits assuming he worked his business in Chicago. But I'm not going to dwell on the past and I'm sure father in law is rather upset and embarassed himself. Unfortunately the electrical requiremnents of Chicago and surrounding areas are not in line with the rest of the country... and to my knowledge there is no documentation that metal conduit has any safety advantage to use in a single family dwelling. I didn't know that a metal flex conduit would not be suitable to connect to a recessed light box. That has got to be the most unreasonable requirement I have ever heard of. I've never quite understood the requirement for metal conduit and it is done commonly in any other place in the USA. It rather baffles me when considering the requirements for the rest of the country. So my guess is that it is a trade protection issue rather than a safety and code compliancy upgrade consideration.

Now a bit of ammo but you will have to do the leg work to see if your local area has any amendments... this as per chicago electrical general code requirements.
Click this link then click the 3rd choice "building code and related then click "more" at the bottom of the list on the left hand column....then scroll down to the electrical code and click on it. There is the possibility that the size of fmc you used may be the issue.


http://www.amlegal.com/library/il/chicago.shtml

If you read the rules for electrical put in place with the 2000 changes (I have listed the Article numbers) you will find the changes that increase the allowed FMC lengths, you also have other code references to find allowable "snaked" length in existing walls.

Under the 2000 change (if you apply it to 3/8" the minimum is 3' maximum 6') ;

18-27-350.1 Scope.

This article covers the use and installation of flexible metal conduit and associated fittings.

(Added Coun. J. 11-3-99, p. 13842, 5)
18-27-350.2 Definition.

Flexible metal conduit is a raceway of circular cross section made of helically wound, formed, interlocked metal strip.

(Added Coun. J. 11-3-99, p. 13842, 5)
18-27-350.3 Other articles.

Installations of flexible metal conduit shall comply with the applicable provisions of Article 300 and Section 18-27-110.21.

(Added Coun. J. 11-3-99, p. 13842, 5)
18-27-350.4 Uses permitted.

Flexible metal conduit shall be listed and shall be permitted to be used:

(1) For the connection of motors or recessed fixtures;

(2) In existing walls, floors, ceilings, or partitions, where fishing is necessary;

(3) For necessary flexibility at the termination of conduit runs.

Last edited by Stubbie; 10-19-2008 at 12:17 PM.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:10 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pchicago View Post
Here's my story. Please offer advice, suggestions, anything if you can.

We planned to rehab the entire place. My father in law was a licensed contractor for 30+ years
Can someone offer some advice about what we can do?

Edit for clarification:

The inspectors told you what you need to do to make the electrical code compliant. Nothing we tell you will change this.

Last edited by retro; 10-19-2008 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:19 PM   #9
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Chicago Area is very much different. This includes Cook, and collar counties.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
The codes were put into place and inspectors were hired because someone before you did it the easy way and wound up killing themselves.
A bit of a stretch..... You need to brush up on the history of why the metal conduit is required for Chicago land.
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Old 10-19-2008, 12:46 PM   #11
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A bit of a stretch yes.. But they were caught by the inspector, now instead of burying everything behind the sheetrock, they have to bring it up to code. There isnt much leeway there for them at this point.
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:46 PM   #12
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Reality of the Daley Dynasty hits hard. And when you go up against the Daley Dynasty you will lose every time.

They will punish you hard for messing with them and make sure that your life is miserable. To bad you weren't part of the elite, you could just donate some money to their campaign and things would be good.

Now back to DIY stuff.

You are stuck between the proverbial rock and the hard place.

For the most part you will have to do everything they ask. If you don't they will come down on you even harder. They could even declare your home uninhabitable and make you move out. And don't think for one minute they won't do that if you pi$$ them off.
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Old 10-19-2008, 06:26 PM   #13
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Your stuck here..I don't think you have an option really...just like marvin gardens said...they can consider your home uninhabitable.

Im curious but...why do they require conduit and type ac in chicagoland?
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:01 PM   #14
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Your stuck here..I don't think you have an option really...just like marvin gardens said...they can consider your home uninhabitable.

Im curious but...why do they require conduit and type ac in chicagoland?
Union protection. Politicians have to keep to the support of the trade unions somehow.
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Old 10-19-2008, 07:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by jerryh3 View Post
Union protection. Politicians have to keep to the support of the trade unions somehow.

Ive had my experience with cheap union electrical work......

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