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Old 01-04-2009, 11:41 AM   #1
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Hello,

I have been reading and learning from this website for some time now and I think you men and women are terrific, thank you.

I want to express some thoughts here that I'm sure won't be popular but I would sure appreciate any feedback offered.

Deal is, why is the inspection process so difficult, so expensive and so adversarial? Of course I understand the need for inspections, trust me I have uncovered plenty of "twist and tape" jobs behind old paneling than I care to think about. But when it comes to the permit process, the fees are ridiculous the information is hard to find and the inspectors, (at least in my town), have a reputation of being total butheads to the homeowner. Sometimes it makes me feel that there is a conspiracy to keep home improvement out of the hands of the private sector.

It's these reasons that have led me as well as many folks I know to educate themselves, do their own work, and avoid the city bureaucracy.
Risky business I know, but I'm a reasonably intelligent guy and I know my limitations. Anyone have anything to add?

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Old 01-04-2009, 11:50 AM   #2
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I think that most people, not all, do not care about what they offer to the home owner, they just want the money. In my business I try to give 100% to help the home owner or business to receive the best inspection plus help them with fixing the problem. I have spent many hours helping for free too.
I image industrial facilities and log homes, and when I do I look at it as if my name is on the line.
Brent

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Old 01-04-2009, 01:11 PM   #3
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Brent,

I'm talking about city building inspectors here, not what your private company is doing. Also, your post strikes me as thinly disguised advertising.
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Old 01-04-2009, 01:28 PM   #4
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Sorry if you took it wrong was no intention on advertising. Just for get the reply.
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Old 01-04-2009, 03:20 PM   #5
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Brent,

I'm talking about city building inspectors here, not what your private company is doing. Also, your post strikes me as thinly disguised advertising.
Because they are the government. They are notoriously bad at doing ANYTHING. When it comes to inspectors, just like cops, the sense of power goes to their heads, and because they are ingrained and know they aren't going anywhere, they don't have to be friendly, nice, or helpful.

As opposed to a private company, where most are as nice as they possibly can be, because they know that if they aren't friendly to the customer, the customer will go somewhere else.
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Old 01-04-2009, 07:55 PM   #6
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....As opposed to a private company, where most are as nice as they possibly can be, because they know that if they aren't friendly to the customer, the customer will go somewhere else.
We have private inspection agencies around here. In my local county, I have 4 different licensed agencies to pick from.

With this level of competition, I can call the inspector at 7:30 AM, and have an inspection the same day, usually before lunch. Try that with your government bureaucracy!
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Old 01-04-2009, 08:48 PM   #7
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Wow KBsparky do I ever envy you and your county. I assume you pull the permits through the usual government offices?
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:27 PM   #8
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In my suburb outside of Philadelphia I also have the luxury of securing any local certified electrical inspection agency I want. I built an addition many years ago, pulled the permits (a list of agencies was given to me with the permit forms) then was instructed to have electrical inspections done. I just needed to show proof that a rough and final were completed to satisfy my township.
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Old 01-04-2009, 10:34 PM   #9
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Wow KBsparky do I ever envy you and your county. I assume you pull the permits through the usual government offices?
Well, yes in those counties that require permits. In fact, I have a pre-paid escrow account set up, and I can email the permit request. They reply with the permit number, and then snail mail me the hard copy.

It's even better in Delaware: No electrical permits required at all. Just file your inspection application with one of the licensed agencies when ready for inspection. Much better without all that extra bureaucracy involved!
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Old 01-05-2009, 10:43 AM   #10
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I seriously question the integrity of professionals that take the low road and generally bash on the inspection process and inspectors. Inphase277, I take personal exception and offense to your generalized comments. As a government inspector, I agree that there are bad inspectors out there with big egos, but there are an equal amount of crooked builders and subcontractors that are more than happy to do substandard unsafe work. If the homeowner hires someone incapable of doing safe quality work (or someone unwilling to) and they lack the knowledge to check that person's work, the building inspector is their only advocate. Believe it or not, even master plumbers, master electricians, and licensed builders make mistakes from time to time, thereby necessitating the process. Nearly all the inspectors that I know are very professional, friendly, and eager to help...And that especially applies to DIYers.

As for the cost of the permits and inspections, cities should make every effort to keep their costs reasonable so cost isn't a deterrent. The vast majority of city and county codes departments are money-losing ventures for the jurisdiction, and are not there to generate profit. Most codes departments' fees do not cover their costs. Yes, you may have to get engineered plans if you pull a permit for a major renovation...But why on earth wouldn't a conscensious person do that on their own even if it weren't required.

Third party inspections are an option that a lot of governments are going to because of costs. When they're paid by the government out of the permit costs, I'm all for it. My experience with 3rd party inspections hasn't been so favorable. There are a few firms that I've had good experience with, but they seem to get less repeat business than they should. When hired by the contractor, the inspector's self-preservation (future work) is reliant on not costing that contractor a huge amount of money. I've gone in behind dozens of 3rd party inspection agencies and seen everything from unsafe wiring to unsafe structure to egress issues to blatant non-compliance with federal ADA requirements in commercial buildings. One that comes to mind was a recent apartment complex that had a 3rd party inspection agency do their structural steel and wood framing rough inspection. I one apartment building I counted three broken floor trusses and two broken roof trusses, as well as a missing 20' LVL beam that served as an interior bearing for some trusses. It became quickly apparent that the guy was in the builder's pocket and was getting paid enough to leave the job alone and just sign it off. I requested a meeting with the inspector at the site, and he withdrew from the project instead.

A always approach a job in a friendly manner. I can be tough and hard to get along with, but my attitude is 100% dicated by the attitude of the builder, subcontractor, or homeowner I'm dealing with. If they're nice, I'm nice. If they're not nice, I'm not as nice. But I always have to be professional even if the person I'm dealing with is not. Regardless of their demeanor, everybody gets the same inspection because I'm looking out for the owner's and occupants' best interests.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:05 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by thekctermite View Post
I seriously question the integrity of professionals that take the low road and generally bash on the inspection process and inspectors.
I agree. The inspection process is very important, for a variety of reasons, primarily safety.

Quote:
Inphase277, I take personal exception and offense to your generalized comments.
I don't mean to offend, but I just call it like I see it. Was it a generalization? Yes. But off-base? I don't think so. I have met alot of friendly inspectors, but the question was more or less why the OP's inspectors didn't want to help. In my experience, when you encounter inspectors like that, it is likely due to a god complex.

Here's a quick story. In one county around Atlanta, there's an inspector nicknamed "Turn'em Down Brown", because you better be on your toes when you do a job in his jurisdiction. Anyway, there was a receptacle for an overhead condensate pump on an AHU. The HVAC guys put it on the opposite side of the AHU, so the cord wouldn't reach, and they plugged it in with a short extension. Brown shows up and tells us to move the receptacle. WHAT? He wants us to re-pipe just to get the receptacle over there. Not bloody likely. So the HVAC guy comes and says, "Oh, no problem", and puts a longer tube on the pump and moves it to the other side so the cord will reach. Brown comes back, sees we didn't move the receptacle, but the pump instead. He gets mad and says, and I quote: "If I tell you to move a receptacle, it's just like your wife calling you to get a gallon of milk! You DO IT!". He failed it again. My boss went over his head to the lead inspector, and got it straightened out.

Point is, fair inspectors are great, but butthead inspectors feel they can be that way because they work for the government. Just like cops. Some good cops out there, but I would say not near as many as there are bully cops out there. You will find it in any department of the govt.
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Old 01-05-2009, 11:44 AM   #12
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Mr. Brown does sound unreasonable. In the inspection business, we don't like the big-headed bully type either. We call that the "10 pound badge".

The best thing you can do with those kind of guys is whip out the code book and ask them to review the applicable code section with you. 9 out of 10 will back down, I promise you. Seems to me that most guys with that type of personality are like a little barking dog that will back off really quick if its dominance is questioned.

Same way when I'm dealing with a big-headed bully builder or subcontractor that spouts their version of the code and argues everything I say...I ask them to tell me what color their code book is. The vast majority of that type of people can't tell you, because they don't own one or haven't read/memorized it.

Pure 100% professionalism and good documentation is always the best way to deal with these types, no matter what side of the fence you're on.
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:11 AM   #13
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I do not have a problem with fees or inspections but why should I have to pay so much a circuit door,window? Just charge me on square footage or value,or just a flat rate!
The same way here with the building department. They and/or the inspector are not always on the same page. Our county went thru 3 inspectors while we were building our house,what does that tell you?
I also had a state electrical inspector come into our new house we were building smoking!

Gary
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:15 AM   #14
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I also had a state electrical inspector come into our new house we were building smoking!

Gary
You are well within rights to ask him to put it out before entering. Hell, you can tell the governor, or president to not smoke in your house. This is America, not Soviet Russia.
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Old 01-06-2009, 12:35 AM   #15
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You are well within rights to ask him to put it out before entering. Hell, you can tell the governor, or president to not smoke in your house. This is America, not Soviet Russia.
Yea right and then do you think my wiring would have passed?

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