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Old 12-29-2011, 04:56 PM   #1
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need help fighting city hall


I met with the code compliance chief and the city manager today about building my garage/wood shop on a property I own in my city. My building plan was approved, but they won't allow me to do the wiring or plumbing based on some rule in the International Building Code. I requested to read the rule, so they threw the IRC, NEC and Plumbing code book at me, and I went in the break room and began reading.

In the plumbing code under "Administration" and "Scope" there is a specific exemption for single family dwellings in 101.2 which refers that in lieu of of the licensing requirements under the Code, the applicant shall comply with the rules of the IRC. This does not exempt the owner from code compliance of the plumbing system, however.

Ok, pulled out the IRC and under section R105.1 specifically states that a property owner of a single family dwelling may apply and do his own work improvements, modifications, etc. to his own dwellings and outbuildings and all systems within.

In the NEC book, I could not find any references similar to the ones above.

However, after the city manager and code officer read the above references in their own office copy code books, they both really didn't argue with me much anymore, but still would not give me the green light to make my plumbing and electric permit application.

The city manager instructed the code officer to call the TX Dept of Licensing and Regulation to "see what they say". I made it clear to both that whatever "they say" I want a written rule reference so I can see it with my own eyes.

Does anybody have any references that I can go hunt down to make my case more solid? I feel I made great progress today, because when I first went in there, they were a solid "no way" in my request. Only after I pressed them for the specific language of the prohibition and me showing them myself did they relent and agree to pursue a more favorable answer.

I appreciate any ideas you guys may have

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Old 12-29-2011, 05:08 PM   #2
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It might help if you add you town to your profile. Then maybe someone from your town can give you an opinion.

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Old 12-29-2011, 05:14 PM   #3
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Just remember there is probably a thousand ways
they can make your life difficult,
The death of a thousand cuts !
So dont get your back up too much !
And dont antaginise them any more then nessecary.

Most beurocrates dont like being taken to task !
Even if you are right.
Be careful !
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Old 12-29-2011, 05:38 PM   #4
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Does the city have its own laws that add onto the IBC and NEC, etc.?
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:02 PM   #5
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Does the city have its own laws that add onto the IBC and NEC, etc.?
No, they only use the codes in affect at the time and they are still working off the 2008 NEC
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:05 PM   #6
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Texas has their rules online like pretty much every other state. The IRC is available, along with NEC online. I would suggest going to the city code office website, or city hall, and looking through the relevant sections that they quoted. If not understanding the speak in them, suggest consulting with a lawyer that knows building codes and can help. Worth the price to pay, especially if you have already invested a lot of money into the project. Also consulting with a G.C. at this point may be better than still going forward and loosing ground every time they write you up and put a stop work order on you.

BTW, there is no way to fight city hall, nor to win in some places, unless you know people.
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:12 PM   #7
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Are you going to live on this property?

Or is this a property at separate location from where you live?

Could this be used as a business in the future?
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:20 PM   #8
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Are you going to live on this property?

Or is this a property at separate location from where you live?

Could this be used as a business in the future?
I live at a different location in town which I built, wired, and plumbed by myself in 1995. It was sure easy back then.

I plan on building a home on my new lot in the future, but the woodshop has to come first so I can build the house.

No, it is deed restricted for single family dwellings.

I searched the TDLR website for an hour and found nothing about homeowner wiring his own house or any exemptions for such purpose. I did find an exemption to do your own HVAC. You can do it but you cannot get a non licensed person to assist you. Go figure.

City manager told me I can add a room, bathroom, garage or kitchen to my own house, do all wiring and plumbing, but I cannot go out and build a new house. Go figure. What is the difference?
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:35 PM   #9
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City manager told me I can add a room, bathroom, garage or kitchen to my own house, do all wiring and plumbing, but I cannot go out and build a new house. Go figure. What is the difference?
How much money is in the envelope, that you "drop" accidentally on the ground by their vehicle.
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Old 12-29-2011, 06:36 PM   #10
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They want to allow people to work on their own homes, but don't want unlicensed people working on homes, rentals, or businesses where other people would live or work.

Or in other words... If you do something unsafe to your own home, fine, but you will not be allowed to potentially endanger other people.

Basically some people would do the work, then sell the house to someone else. They are probably trying to avoid that sort of "loophole".

Perhaps if you sold your house, then moved onto that property and were living on that property, then it would be a different matter?
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:04 PM   #11
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I work for a city (well ok, it's only a Town) Hall, and have dealt with my SHAre of Code Enforcement people. Some are great, others - not so much! But most will listen to licensed contractors they deal with regularly. I would advise you to call a few pro plumbers and electricians, see what they say. Where I live, it is fairly common to do your own work, then have a pro approve it, and no code enforcement person will bother you since they deal with the pros so much. Just a thought!

As others have said, and I have seen this first hand, even if you are 100% right, and that government person still says NO, your only recourse is legal action. Long, tedious, expensive, and no guarantees.
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:27 PM   #12
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City manager told me I can add a room, bathroom, garage or kitchen to my own house, do all wiring and plumbing, but I cannot go out and build a new house.
Hmmmm ....a loophole??

Have someone build a shell of a house. No interior walls, no flooring, no kitchen...no finish. Hire a lic electrician to bring in service and add ONE receptacle. Then "ADD" a kitchen, a couple of bedrooms, living room, bathroom, laundry, etc.


I'm not real big on people who THINK they know something telling me what I can and can't do in my own home. I'd find a way to beat em at their own game.

DISCLAIMER: That's me....if you try that...and you get a fine....I ain't payin' it
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Old 12-29-2011, 07:52 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by dougp23 View Post
others - not so much!
Ayuh,.... Others is the CeO in my village,....
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Old 12-29-2011, 08:20 PM   #14
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I'm in Texas too so here's what I used to get permits. Here's what tdlr "has to say"

http://www.tdlr.state.tx.us/electricians/elecfaq.htm

Quote:
VIII. EXEMPTIONS
The following persons are specifically exempted by the law, or those who perform the following examples of electrical work are not required by the state to be licensed as electricians (note: municipal or regional regulations may override these exemptions, see below*):
Electrical work performed on / performed by:

VEHICLES
  • ships and watercraft other than floating buildings
  • railway rolling stock
  • aircraft
  • motor vehicles or recreational vehicles

BUILDINGS

  • elevators, escalators, or related equipment excluding power sources
  • building, structure, or equipment in agricultural use
  • a dwelling by a person who owns and resides in the dwelling
That's the electrictal subsection

The inspection form actually says

Quote:
ALL INDUSTRIALIZED HOUSING AND BUILDINGS: HVAC, Plumbing, and Electrical Construction shall be performed by a person or persons licensed to perform this work in accordance with applicable State law, unless performed by the homeowner or building owner as described on the installation permit. Note that the installation of service entrance conductors shall be performed by a licensed electrician.
and

Quote:
Homeowner must provide an installation permit number issued by this Department to perform any work on the dwelling (must own and plan to reside in dwelling to obtain installation permit).
So go get your permits
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:01 PM   #15
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I'm in Texas too so here's what I used to get permits. Here's what tdlr "has to say"

http://www.tdlr.state.tx.us/electricians/elecfaq.htm





So go get your permits
BUILDINGS
  • elevators, escalators, or related equipment excluding power sources
  • building, structure, or equipment in agricultural use
  • a dwelling by a person who owns and resides in the dwelling
  • construction and assembly of HUD-code manufactured housing or modular housing and building units, excluding service entrance conductors, performed by a licensed manufacturer or installer
There is part of the rub. As part of my argument with the city manager I told her I wanted to build a house on the property at a future date, but she says I cannot do the wiring unless I already have a house and am residing in that residence.

There is a home on the adjacent lot which I own and if I have to can move into it for 3 months and declare it my residence. That should satisfy the legal requirement for "a dwelling by a person who owns and resides in the dwelling." That will give me legal standing to build the garage/shop on the adjoining lot, then down the road I can sell off the house on the adjacent lot.

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