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Old 11-04-2009, 06:27 AM   #1
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permits / inspections


I planon installing a new gas furnace (replacement) myself. I have the the tools and knowledge to do this properly. I want to do everything correctly and pull Permits, I will need electrical, plumbing and fire. I know that I can do all of the work as the homeowner as long as it meets code. My concern is that several people that I have discussed this project with are telling me that the inspectors tend to be harder on homeowners as oppossed to contractors and that once inside, they will look for other issues in my home and could make me repair those as well.

When the inspectors do come to inspect, wouldn't the inspection be limited to the actual work that is listed on the permits? Can they break my chops on unrelated issues? I am in NJ. Does anyone have experience or horror stories as a homeowner with inspectors like this ?
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:03 AM   #2
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Very hard to say. I'm in NJ as well and everything is different town to town and even within a town, inspector to inspector. What specifically is not within code that you're concerned about them finding?
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:15 AM   #3
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You are not required to bring pre-existing wiring up to Today's Code
You are required to fix wiring that might be hazardous
IE - no wires hanging out of boxes, bare wires etc

My Inspectors & Building Dept have been very helpful
The electrical inspector did note that I needed an electric permit for residing the house due to the meter
I pointed out that I had them install a 3/4" piece of plywood flush behind the box so it would not have to be removed
He said Great, not needed then
Also pointed out a pre-exisiting outside box that was partially recessed - not rated for that
He knew I would be adding boxes so said to make sure I don't recess the box unless it is rated correctly
He also pointed out that I had removed the grounding screw in my pool cabana sub but had failed to take out the bar that still linked the neutral & grounding buss together

I have upgraded my house to GFCI, dedicated bath outlet etc to make my house safer, not because I was worried about the Inspector

What wiring issues are you worried about?
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Old 11-04-2009, 07:37 AM   #4
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The first house I bought in NJ in 97 was built in 65. I got permits for everything I did, even if the prior owners didn't. Never once did the inspectors bust chops about the whacky wiring practices in my basement, and they had plenty of opportunity to do so.

As for your current project, this time of year they're going to be cognizant of the fact that your home needs heat, and I suspect they will be quite helpful in making sure you get up and running quickly. In other words, I can't see them nit picking you and delaying you. The plumbing inspector is going to be looking at your gas line and flue. I can see him maybe checking to see the water heater while he's there, but not poking under sinks and what not. The electrical inspector may not even come out. He'll probably see that this is a swap, not new construction, and may not come out. But if he does, he'll have opportunity to see what's going on. But that's not a bad thing, either. He'll be doing his part to protect you and your property. The fire subcode official may come out to check the flue connection, and while he's there might comment on CO and smoke detectors. But again, his focus is protecting you and your property.

I would embrace the process, and let them know up front that you're doing the work yourself. If you're proactive, and provide copies of the furnace docs and literature on the materials that you're going to use when you file for the permit, I suspect that they'll see you as a conscientious DIY home owner and they'll be helpful at every turn.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:03 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply Dave. I do believe that they are there to help and make things safe.

I like the tip about the documents, I have everything for the new equipment. I have read and re-read it, so I know it well also.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:16 AM   #6
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Everyone's hit the nail on the head...this is a perfect opportunity to turn what you may think as an "enemy to your cause" into an ally. IMO you've taken the right steps to do the work yourself and so have the inspector come in and go through it with a fine-toothed comb so that you pick up the obvious stuff you might have missed, but also any extra pointers on this or any project you might have.

Aggie67 said it best...you'll put him to work for you not against you. Just don't know where people get the idea that inspectors are the modern day equivalent of a snneezing swine flu carrier at your dinner table...get with it.
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Old 11-04-2009, 08:20 AM   #7
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I also upgraded the house to hard wired smoke & CO detectors
I figured better to do it while I had the 2nd floor walls open & could fish wires thru the walls & floor
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Old 11-04-2009, 12:57 PM   #8
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when i contacted my inspectors i was worried. When i called the electrical (state done) and i told him it was a home owner job his tone of voice completely changed. I was scared as to how the inspection would go then. Well he got to my house and 5 minutes later he left saying how well of a job i did. This was my first ever electrical job. He informed me though going to a HO done job he never knows what to expect. Somethimes they are great like mine and sometimes the wiring is just thrown behind the studs and not stapled.

As for my city inspector (framing, insulation...) he also told me how much a good job i did.

They are there to help and ask questions. Dont forget "code" is a minimun requirement.
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Old 11-05-2009, 07:33 AM   #9
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Thank you all for the replies. I don't know why some people feel you need to go behind the inpsectors backs or be secretive about things. I like to be on the level with things. I prefer to be Safe and not have to worry about fines or penalties for getting caught.

While I am quite familiar with most building codes from my work, I have downloaded copies of the various codes to make sure that I completely comply with them. I am neat and meticulous in everything I do, all aspects of this installation will be done correctly. So I guess I should not have anything to worry about.

Regards,
Ed

Last edited by evill; 11-05-2009 at 07:35 AM.
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Old 11-06-2009, 06:55 PM   #10
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I understand how people resent "asking permission" to work on their own homes. On the surface it seems intrusive. But if you build, you understand that the code represents the minimum standard for safety and, really, it's not so onerous. If you're working on your own house, why in heaven's sake would you cut corners on the place where you and your family sleeps?
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Old 11-06-2009, 07:06 PM   #11
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ya i wouldn't be too worried about it. your flue will be an area of inspection concern as well as gas line connection and fire (i.e. how close is it to your walls, is there a light etc)

i had some furnace inspector come and he spotted part of the vent to chimney piping that was not right. he first threatened to fine us (hence the stereo typical fear of inspectors...) but when my wife started crying his mood changed. he then suggested it could be fixed easily by capping it with 4" dia. cap from HD and a couple of metal screws. $5 and it was done. he never even came back to inspect the repair.

so i guess i can see both points of view.. why afraid of inspectors and why they are good.

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Old 11-06-2009, 07:22 PM   #12
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I've worked with inspectors as a contractor and as a home owner, In my experience they seem to be much less helpful when I am contracting and much more helpfull when I am homeowner, If I do something as a contractor that was built to architects specs in blueprints they approved they have added on site changes as their mood suits... It is one of the great unknown variables, In one town I do commercial work in I often stop by the beuild dept. office with coffee and donuts for everyone when I file my permits,,, THat goes a long way I also believe many people choose to avoid permits as that is how they keep track of home improvements and raising your taxes....
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:13 PM   #13
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Thanks guys for reassuring me to do what I know is right. I picked up the permit applications today. I am looking forward to this project, I enjoy building and assembling things and take great pride in my work. Plus I can rest easy knowing that everything is done safely, correctly and to code and that my family will be safe.

Regards,
Ed
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Old 11-07-2009, 09:11 AM   #14
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hey, don't forget to report back here what your experience was link.

good luck!
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Old 11-10-2009, 06:12 PM   #15
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Here's another vote for "don't fear the inspector".

In our project the framer we hired was the first one to meet with the inspector. I finished the framing and did everything else. The second time an inspector came out he was looking at my work and I told him I (homeowner) was going to be finishing the project. The framer was on site for this inspection as well. After the inspector left the framer told me the guy totally changed his tune from 1st visit to the 2nd. It changed from "Mr. Contractor, watch out because I'm gonna catch you if you try to shortcut anything" to "Mr. Homeowner, let me share my wisdom and help you make this a successful project." The framer told me that was pretty common from his experience.

The first couple of times the inspectors came out there was a lot of "teaching" which was fine for me as I was asking all the questions I could think of. After a visit or two, they figured out I knew what I was doing, and the teaching tapered off a little, but I still asked a lot of questions. I figured they have a ton more experience / knowledge than I, and if they are willing to share, I was more than willing to learn something. Even on things I had a good handle on, I let them tell me again the right way to do it....and I thanked them for it.

Throughout my project I think I had (3) different inspectors out, all of them very helpful, very reasonable, pretty thorough, busted my chops when needed, made suggestions were applicable, and were in general extremely easy to work with. I would say they added to the project and made it better. I'm from the opposite coast, so not directly related, but a good inspector story, none the less.
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