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Old 06-02-2011, 09:01 PM   #1
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


I pretty much am just writing this because getting permit inspections is apparently rather stressful, your results may vary.

Here's my problem. Since buying my home which was built in 1917, I've been aware that I really should pretty much bulldoze the whole thing and start over, but that practical constraints require that I instead rebuild the house a piece at a time. As such, I'm on my second electrical permit. Doing the work myself a section at a time.

The first permit covered the truly dangerous electrical that was at a level that it was amazing the house hadn't already burnt down. This was rewiring the second floor bedrooms and kitchen with new circuits on a new subpanel (later to be converted to the main panel) plus adding smoke detectors, and a few peripheral things. Along with this I just plain cut all power to the garage.

For this, I passed rough inspection on the 4th try. Each failed inspection, the inspector raised issues he could have seen at the previous inspection if he had gone beyond the first 2 or 3 errors he found.

Now I'm working on my second permit to move the service entrance, upgrade to 200A service and run the feeder to a new subpanel in the detatched garage. Tommorrow is inspection #3. Again, the errors noted on inspection 2 could have been noted on inspection #1.

Here's my problem: I don't mind being held to code, but when I get told that something is wrong, I don't mind fixing it - but I'd like to be able to fix it once. By the time I am ready for inspection #3, I will have had to make my service entrance and garage feeder connections 3 times. Working with heavy cable is a pain in the neck - both trying to get it through conduit (even if it's a short run) and trying to get it into its respective breaker.

What I'd like is if the inspector could look at everything, go at a slow enough pace I can write everything down, then make sure I understand what needs to be done to make it right so next time it will pass.

Without that, I'm starting to question the wisdom of following the inspection process. Alternately, I can understand why people might be disinclined to do anything about deficient wiring

Wiring like what is pictured below is what I'm replacing, and for whatever flaws my work might have, it is a thousand times better. In red circles I've noted flaws... The obvious flaw is the pervasive use of lamp cord. Wires are spliced outside junction boxes with tape laying against the wall. The wires go through knockouts in metal junction boxes unprotected. Wires dangle loosely. There are no covers on switches or receptacles.

Wires are stapled. No really. STAPLED. Maybe with a staple gun, but they look like paper staples really.

In one of the photos you'll see a brown wire hanging down in front of some lamp cord that has been painted with the wall. This wire was draping down from the ceiling where it ran to a flourescent light. I pulled it down because it kept knocking off my glasses, it hung down so low.

There is one green circle. That's part of my work to wire a new outlet for the GDO. Previously, the GDO was plugged into an extension cord draped over joists with its ground blade pulled out so it could plug into one of the receptacles that has no ground, is wired with lamp cord.

Anyway, here's the pics:
Attached Thumbnails
Inspectors that are strict but lazy-garage-feeder-entrance-lower.jpg   Inspectors that are strict but lazy-garage-feeder-entrance.jpg   Inspectors that are strict but lazy-garage-outlet-flourescent-light.jpg   Inspectors that are strict but lazy-garage-wires-switch-lighting-outlet.jpg   Inspectors that are strict but lazy-garage-workshop-wiring.jpg  


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Old 06-02-2011, 09:11 PM   #2
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


Anyway, if I get the courage I got some things to say to the inspector about this. I want to say to him "look dude, I am TRYING to follow code and meet whatever requirements you might have beyond that. But it rubs me the wrong way that you could have found the issues you identified yesterday when you did the first inspection last week, and as a result I have to rework my rework...

I searched my permit history. Before my own permits, there has NEVER been an electrical permit on this house. When people don't want to use the permit process, THIS is what happens. The previous owner had the house 37 years and I guarantee this happenned in that time, probably right under your nose.

I'm not asking for him to let me get away with something he doesn't like, I'm asking him to do a better job of working with me because if I stop wanting to be part of the permit process, I probably wouldn't improve past the kind of work I have at the first inspection. While it will be better than what is pictured above, if it's worth making it better I'd probably never know.

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Old 06-02-2011, 09:16 PM   #3
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


I can see your point and would appreciate the inspector finding all the errors during one trip.
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:55 PM   #4
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


All I can say on the inspectors behalf is that he is not there to train you how to be an electrician. Once he sees enough to fail the inspection why should he keep going. He has other places to be and other houses to inspect.
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Old 06-02-2011, 10:09 PM   #5
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


You have a legitimate complaint to file with your municipality.

Either your inspector is:

1) Incompetent, since he missed so many items on the earlier inspection(s), or
2) Is trying to play the system, since many places have extra charges for re-inspections.

Either way, you have a legitimate grievance.
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Old 06-03-2011, 05:36 AM   #6
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


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All I can say on the inspectors behalf is that he is not there to train you how to be an electrician. Once he sees enough to fail the inspection why should he keep going. He has other places to be and other houses to inspect.
This is exactly the kind of my mentality that some inspectors seem to have, and I'm not sure what the reason is but it makes me think that they would rather the general piublic not do anything. It seems like some electrical departments exist soley to keep local electricians in business, since they won't allow the general public to do anything.

That is the law in my city, and I can do nothing about it but it really ticks me off that I have to HIRE an electrician to go and pull the permit, do the work, and I have to pay him a labor fee.

To the OP, I understand your frustration. It would seem like the guy would be nice enough to let you know about everything so that he wouldn't have to make multiple trips and not only waste his time, but yours as well.
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Old 06-06-2011, 01:48 PM   #7
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


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All I can say on the inspectors behalf is that he is not there to train you how to be an electrician. Once he sees enough to fail the inspection why should he keep going. He has other places to be and other houses to inspect.
I completely disagree with this mentality. When I perform an inspection, I perform the complete inspection. This eliminates this going back numerous times. Our state regs (UCC) mandate this. However, that being said, my job is not to do a punch list. I hold the homeowner to the same standards as the EC. I am required only to site the code section in violation. Sounds kinda hard nosed, but allow me to explain. If I see a staple missing from a receptacle in the livingroom on the front wall and state this on my failure sticker exactly, the EC or HO is only going to make that correction. If when I return I see another missing staple, the EC or HO is going complain (like the OP) that I should have caught it the first time. But if I state that NM shall be secured in accordance with NEC 334.30 then it is the responsibilty of the EC or HO to check the entire installation and make all the corrections. Electrical work is not a hobby. If you don't know what you are doing hire a professional.
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Old 06-06-2011, 04:44 PM   #8
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


I agree with Electures. I was just trying to stress the point that the inspector is not there to train an untrained home owner how wire houses.
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Old 06-06-2011, 05:37 PM   #9
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


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Originally Posted by electures View Post
I completely disagree with this mentality. When I perform an inspection, I perform the complete inspection. This eliminates this going back numerous times. Our state regs (UCC) mandate this. However, that being said, my job is not to do a punch list. I hold the homeowner to the same standards as the EC. I am required only to site the code section in violation. Sounds kinda hard nosed, but allow me to explain. If I see a staple missing from a receptacle in the livingroom on the front wall and state this on my failure sticker exactly, the EC or HO is only going to make that correction. If when I return I see another missing staple, the EC or HO is going complain (like the OP) that I should have caught it the first time. But if I state that NM shall be secured in accordance with NEC 334.30 then it is the responsibilty of the EC or HO to check the entire installation and make all the corrections. Electrical work is not a hobby. If you don't know what you are doing hire a professional.
I agree
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Old 06-06-2011, 08:46 PM   #10
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


Pulling a permit does not entitle one to get electrical training from the inspector. Do it right the first time like a pro and no return trips are needed.

DIYer's are fine and hoping they know enough to save money. Fine....hire an electrician to come inspect your work and do a pre-inspection.

IMHO
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Old 06-06-2011, 10:12 PM   #11
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


As an engineer, I've read standards and codes. NEC is not crystal clear, but it's better than average. The problem is that for anyone that doesn't use it regularly for years, it is unreasonable to expect its provisions to be fully and correctly interpretted. In codes and standards, that is there is either ambiguity or there is so much content that knowing it fully is an extraordiary task.

Consider the "made up grounds are loose" complaint. What if he had pulled out the next ground over that wasn't loose, found that it isn't loose, then considered it not an issue? (This was the case by the way on my previous rough inspection, I caught one loose made up ground while installing receptacles - and of course I corrected it. And I also used my outlet tester to make sure I didn't have any open grounds)

What if he walked onto a job where he didn't enter with suspicion? Would he even pull out any made up grounds?

What if he walked onto a job with a sense of suspicion and checked every single ground until he found one that was loose?

Then the next question is, what if an inspector finds nothing else wrong but a made up ground that is loose, and upon finding it, the homeowner or electrician puts it together tightly on the spot?

The point is that a crafty individual can absolutely pass a job that isn't to code or fail a job that is.

What I hope for from an inspector is that they be reasonable. In return I try my best to accept their judgement and do everything I can to satisfy whatever concerns they might have.

As an engineer, I've primarily been employed at automotive tier 1 suppliers. In general, an OEM identifies issues and expects the supplier to fix them. They don't usually tell the supplier how to fix them, but they do expect to be presented a solution and to have the role of approving the solution before it is implemented.

I'm not looking for instruction, I'm looking for communication so that what the inspector thinks is wrong and what I think the inspector thinks is wrong are one and the same. Then I'm looking to be able to propose a solution (as opposed to requesting a solution) so that I can get a sense for whether my solution will have a chance at a successful passing inspection next time.

Perhaps lazy was the wrong word when I started this post, but I wasn't in the mood to expend energy choosing words carefully. At this point, I think I'd refine that to somehow reflect the importance of good communication and the pitfalls of bad communication. And it seems that there is definitely a communication problem at play here. I know also that part of it is my own holding back on doing what I needed to do to get enough of an understanding...

(Good lord I feel like this is about to transition into a psychological discussion.)

Somehow, I'm just not comfortable with this inspector - I find that I seem to be put on the defensive, and by the time he leaves I'm just really angry. And I'm really the type that tends to be exceptionally patient. I'd really like to be able to pull a permit in the future when I'm ready to continue the upgrade work, and get a pass the first time just to see what he's like in that situation. I guess I might have a chance at that for the final inspections, but in a way that seems too easy because it seems there's not as many chances to do something incorrectly at final as there is at rough.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:38 AM   #12
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


When you scheduled inspection #1 were you reasonably sure it would pass, or did you still have some doubts on your mind?

If you had some doubts then you should not have scheduled the inspection yet.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:11 AM   #13
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Inspectors that are strict but lazy


When I scheduled inspection #1 I was rock solid sure that I was ready on the service entrance, the garage seemed solid to me but at the time I put the request in for inspection, which needs to be done 24 hours ahead, I needed to strip sheathing off the garage outlets and make up the grounds. There was plenty of time to finish that, which I did, but I figured that I'd at least get approved to close the trench and have the POCO hook up to the new service entrance.

My thinking at the time was that I had done plenty of NM cable work before, and my big miss was that I had not familiarized myself with the methods associated with running individual conductors. I assumed it was generally the same as NM.

The service bracing requirement was a complete surprise because I had researched the service mast thoroughly. I read code, read other people's projects, read the POCO's requirements, read other POCO's requirements and I felt that I had an attachment method that would meet ANYONE's requirement.

When he required a bonded insulating bushing where the SE cable went into the meter socket, the requirement puzzled me because the POCO doesn't want any kind of grounding to the meter socket, they want it to go through the neutral to the transformer.

At the second inspection I had adressed EVERYTHING from the first.

I called in the third right after the second had failed because it was the only chance to get an inspection before the weekend. Getting the garage passed was necessary to close the wall where I planned to put up my workbenches over the weekend. Putting up the workbenches was necessary to getting a bunch of boxes out of the parking space I moved them to in the garage so I'd have room to work. Clearing he parking space was necessary to getting my '55 Mercury project back into the garage - all of the windows are out, I have exposed bare metal where I've done welding, and it has an open engine block (heads, intake manifold, etc. are off).

By the morning of the third inspection I had everything he wanted (as I understood it) in the garage done. I was working on the service panel area, and if he had gotten there at 1 PM I'd have likely finished, but he showed up at 11:15 AM.
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:03 PM   #14
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When I scheduled inspection #1 I was rock solid sure that I was ready on the service entrance, the garage seemed solid to me but at the time I put the request in for inspection, which needs to be done 24 hours ahead, I needed to strip sheathing off the garage outlets and make up the grounds. There was plenty of time to finish that, which I did, but I figured that I'd at least get approved to close the trench and have the POCO hook up to the new service entrance.

My thinking at the time was that I had done plenty of NM cable work before, and my big miss was that I had not familiarized myself with the methods associated with running individual conductors. I assumed it was generally the same as NM.

The service bracing requirement was a complete surprise because I had researched the service mast thoroughly. I read code, read other people's projects, read the POCO's requirements, read other POCO's requirements and I felt that I had an attachment method that would meet ANYONE's requirement.

When he required a bonded insulating bushing where the SE cable went into the meter socket, the requirement puzzled me because the POCO doesn't want any kind of grounding to the meter socket, they want it to go through the neutral to the transformer.

At the second inspection I had adressed EVERYTHING from the first.

I called in the third right after the second had failed because it was the only chance to get an inspection before the weekend. Getting the garage passed was necessary to close the wall where I planned to put up my workbenches over the weekend. Putting up the workbenches was necessary to getting a bunch of boxes out of the parking space I moved them to in the garage so I'd have room to work. Clearing he parking space was necessary to getting my '55 Mercury project back into the garage - all of the windows are out, I have exposed bare metal where I've done welding, and it has an open engine block (heads, intake manifold, etc. are off).

By the morning of the third inspection I had everything he wanted (as I understood it) in the garage done. I was working on the service panel area, and if he had gotten there at 1 PM I'd have likely finished, but he showed up at 11:15 AM.
Did the EI require a grounding bushing on an SE connector? What did you ground it too?

Additionally I have a few comments. Always make sure you are 100% ready when you call for inspection. Don't plan on the EI showing up at a specific time. Kindly request the the EI perform the entire inspection so as to prevent him from returning multiple times. While he should not be doing punch lists, he has to list all violations. Being a HO and doing your own electrical work is challenging. Especially on an older home with existing problems. On future projects provide detailed drawings so that most problems can be caught during the plan review process. Consulting with a local EC may be worth the time and expense. I will admit that whenever I inspect HO electrical work it is not always my favorite thing to do. Not that I think all work should be done by licensed EC's, but some people clearly should not be attempting some of the work. It seems to me sometimes that people don't understand the high costs of EC's when they can go to HD and buy the materials for a fraction of the cost of the EC. What needs to be understood is the years of experience and education EC's spend to get their license and the high costs of insurances and doing business. Nobody right now is making a killing. Licenses do not come in a CrackerJacks box. Also, avoid unlicensed contractors who want you to take out the permit in your name and he will do the work. HE IS NOT QUALIFIED, BONDED OR INSURED TO DO ELECTRICAL WORK. DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THESE IDIOTS, RUUUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!! Finally, (for now), continue to use forums such as this to aid you in installing safe and effecient electrical work.
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Old 06-07-2011, 05:22 PM   #15
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Did the EI require a grounding bushing on an SE connector? What did you ground it too?
The meter socket is offset from the brick by unistrut, the offset is enough to get a finger in there to spread caulk around a pipe going into the brick but I wouldn't have been able to get a caulk gun in for sealing around an oblong section of an SEU cable going through a round hole in brick. So what I have is a rigid conduit nipple going into the brick through the back of the meter socket.

The grounding bushing is connected to nothing. He examined it on his second inspection and did not say anything. Considering he says something when he sees something he doesn't like, I'm taking that as acceptance.

As I point out every time the subject of grounding with regards to the meter socket comes up, my POCO requires no ground connections in the meter socket. Other POCO requirements apparently do want the ground connection in the meter socket. Anyone else considering this kind of project should check with their POCO.

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