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Old 05-06-2010, 01:32 PM   #16
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Dealing with Permits & Building Inspector


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The problem is that there are statutes on the Books that prevent anyone BUT licensed Contractors (Both in terms of skill and established as a business, having a permanent mailing address and insurance.) from performing certain types of work where it involves health and public safety. i.e.; Plumbing work where it involves setting up the drainage and venting systems and making sure that the water supply is not contaminated. Or working with gas supply pipes, which in some jurisdictions requires a special license in addition to the regular Plumber's license. Or electrical work, which can cause serious injury or death if not done properly. However, an exception is made for homeowners on their own property. Because preventing someone from working on their own property is somehow undemocratic. Therefore, some localities give a hard time to someone other than the property owner even if their skills would enable them to complete a project safely.!
i certainly do agree with that. Certain things I know to leave to the pros. I just wish they weren't so judgmental, and that not all non licensed person is dumb as a brick. I've worked with electricals with much more power than what runs through a house, so I know my way around high voltage. I don't mind that they give me a hard time, because that will weed out those that really shouldn't be doing their own work, but at least answer my questions.

I don't think I was giving the inspector any attitude, I quietly listened while he lectured me and responded with "yes sir". At no point did I say or imply that I know more than a contractor. I know I dont, but I do know enough for the current project at hand. My attitude developed in the end after the call when I realized "wait a minute, he didn't help me at all wtf".

One thing he mentioned that irks me was that with the down economy and contractors out of work, more contractors are complaining to them about people doing their own work. That didn't make sense to me. That seems to me like a case of schoolyard whining "teacher teacher, they won't let me play with their ball".


Anyway, I guess I will have to go in person. I have documentation done, but I just wanted to double check that there wasn't anything else they wanted to see. It'll save me a trip since the office takes me a while to get to.

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Last edited by acerunner; 05-06-2010 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 05-06-2010, 08:55 PM   #17
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Dealing with Permits & Building Inspector


acerunner (Poster #16) Please don't misunderstand my point as barring anyone other than a contractor to do work on their on property. Certainly not DIY'rs. Because they are as close as you can get to being a pro. They take consultation (as on this wonderful site) and prepare well and plan everything out before they start the project. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who think they know everything and are not willing to take any advice. They are called tinkerers. their example should not be followed.!
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Old 05-07-2010, 05:39 PM   #18
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Here in Miami Florida depending on the municipality they give you a test. When I replaced my roof after Hurricane Wilma I pulled an owner builder permit, but before they would issue the permit I was quizzed on things like spacing of tin caps, overlap and drip edge installation. Relatively simple questions and I walked out with permit in hand and a smile on my face.
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:19 PM   #19
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acerunner (Poster #16) Please don't misunderstand my point as barring anyone other than a contractor to do work on their on property. Certainly not DIY'rs. Because they are as close as you can get to being a pro. They take consultation (as on this wonderful site) and prepare well and plan everything out before they start the project. Unfortunately, there are some individuals who think they know everything and are not willing to take any advice. They are called tinkerers. their example should not be followed.!
no, i didnt misunderstand u. I was saying the inspectors seems to be that way. I like ur explaination of diyer vs tinkerer.

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Here in Miami Florida depending on the municipality they give you a test. When I replaced my roof after Hurricane Wilma I pulled an owner builder permit, but before they would issue the permit I was quizzed on things like spacing of tin caps, overlap and drip edge installation. Relatively simple questions and I walked out with permit in hand and a smile on my face.
according to all codes, owner-builder is allowed here with a test if u want electrical/plumbing permit. However, even though it is allowed, it seems inspectors have their personal opinion about it, and discourages that route, and by discourage I mean be a dick about it. At least was the case with the guy i talked to.

anyway, i'm just kind of ranting here. I spoke to a friend who went through the same thing several times, who told me that the inspector for my district is like that to everyone, even licensed contractors.
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Old 05-07-2010, 07:45 PM   #20
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One thing I have noticed in my small upstate NY village is that there is never a permit conspicuously displayed on the premisis where there is construction going on even though it says to do just that on the permit.

My next door neighbor is building an atrocious looking 2nd floor addition on his 1 and 1/4 story house. It has a reverse pitch so there is standing room on one side of the addition. Everyone that visits my house has the same reaction to what they see. Now I'm starting to wonder about how it will affect my property value. I wonder if I should call the code enforcement officer?
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:16 PM   #21
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I displayed mine in the window at 1st
Then realized the sun was fading everything on the permit
So I pulled them out of the window
Everyone in the building Dept knows me & the permits I have out
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:06 AM   #22
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Dealing with Permits & Building Inspector


Quote:
Originally Posted by acerunner View Post
no, i didnt misunderstand u. I was saying the inspectors seems to be that way. I like ur explaination of diyer vs tinkerer.



according to all codes, owner-builder is allowed here with a test if u want electrical/plumbing permit. However, even though it is allowed, it seems inspectors have their personal opinion about it, and discourages that route, and by discourage I mean be a dick about it. At least was the case with the guy i talked to.

anyway, i'm just kind of ranting here. I spoke to a friend who went through the same thing several times, who told me that the inspector for my district is like that to everyone, even licensed contractors.
Again, as I pointed out in another post. Barring homeowners from working on their own property IS undemocratic. On the other hand, we (as a society) must assure that any work performed on a property is safe and does not put the life and well being of all concerned in jeopardy. As for the Inspectors. they're people. Like everyone else. But, in my own experience. The vast majority are reasonable. I had an electrical inspector raise a question about the proper size of a feeder circuit (which another inspector made a note about). When I told him that I'm willing to pull the entire wire out and show him that the right size (for the load) was stamped on the cable, he signed off on the job.!
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:15 AM   #23
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Dealing with Permits & Building Inspector


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Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
I displayed mine in the window at 1st
Then realized the sun was fading everything on the permit
So I pulled them out of the window
Everyone in the building Dept knows me & the permits I have out
Here, in NYC. (The Electrical permits for all the other Boroughs of NYC are still handled only from the Municipal Bldg. in Manhattan) The staff also know most electrical contractors personally. But you're allowed to display a copy of the permit. As long as you have the original to show on demand. Additionally. What the Bldng. Dep't started doing lately (in the last year.) They patrol by helicopter to see which sites are illegal. (don't have a permit).!
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Old 05-09-2010, 02:02 AM   #24
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The thing that most people forget, is that building inspectors don't protect YOU, they protect the community... and the main part of the community they are protecting is the other theoretical occupants who will move in and out every 5 years after you do the work for the next hundred years. The would be 200 FAMILIES! (that was a great line from Aliens)
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Old 05-09-2010, 12:25 PM   #25
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The thing that most people forget, is that building inspectors don't protect YOU, they protect the community... and the main part of the community they are protecting is the other theoretical occupants who will move in and out every 5 years after you do the work for the next hundred years. The would be 200 FAMILIES! (that was a great line from Aliens)
Thank you for injecting a little humor in this very serious (and mundane?) subject! Some Police Officers smile when they give you a ticket. Others show you a sour face in addition to the ticket. Some inspectors issue violations with a smile or apologies...Something like.. "I would love to pass your work, but you understand that for the public good I can't do that. Then, they dramatize that (heaven forbid) if your job is approved and then a major explosion or fire occurs, not only will they lose their job but will be dragged out of bed at midnight and thrown in a dark, cold cell. I once received a speeding ticket from a State Trooper, who "tricked" me into speeding and then apologized profusely, that...personally he feels very bad for me, but... He's forced to issue the speeding violation, and that, hopefully, I understand..!!
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Old 05-10-2010, 10:00 AM   #26
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Just adding my 2 cents. I've done 3 or 4 big projects on my house, and every time i check for a permit they tell me, "oh you don't need one.. go ahead".

My fence, they said you had a permit 10 years ago...lol it was two owners ago and only a chainlink which was torn down 5 years ago but they said it will still be valid.

The most recent was my deck addition and again there was a permit pulled 10 years ago, so they see no reason to get another permit for just extending.

So even though they always tell me the permit is not neccessary, i make sure to get it in written form (email) and i will still always check with them on each project i do.
I do however always talk to them face to face and they are much nicer than on the phone!
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Old 05-10-2010, 12:21 PM   #27
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Just adding my 2 cents. I've done 3 or 4 big projects on my house, and every time i check for a permit they tell me, "oh you don't need one.. go ahead".

My fence, they said you had a permit 10 years ago...lol it was two owners ago and only a chainlink which was torn down 5 years ago but they said it will still be valid.

The most recent was my deck addition and again there was a permit pulled 10 years ago, so they see no reason to get another permit for just extending.

So even though they always tell me the permit is not neccessary, i make sure to get it in written form (email) and i will still always check with them on each project i do.
I do however always talk to them face to face and they are much nicer than on the phone!
You're absolutely doing the right thing. You never know when an insurance Co. or an attorney for a prospective buyer will dig up the record and find that there was no permit pulled for the work performed. Then, your argument that you were (verbally) assured by the town officials that no permit was needed will not be of much help.!

Last edited by spark plug; 05-10-2010 at 12:23 PM. Reason: Missing word. (Be)
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:07 PM   #28
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My wife and I have been building our own log home for the past year or so. It is nearly done, and except for the foundation and the standing seam roof, she and I have literally done everything ourselves. We have had no problems with the inspector. Quite the contrary - he has been very helpful, even offering to loan us tools if we needed them (he used to be a contractor). And he subtly makes it known what he'll be looking for when he comes for the next inspection. His main focus is ensuring what we build is safe and structurally sound, and most other things he's pretty slack about. Though our plans didn't call for them, he made us put in hurricane clips for the rafters. No big deal. But it's obvious he doesn't care if the radon mitigation even works as long as he can see we put something in.
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Old 05-11-2010, 05:32 PM   #29
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I will have to post a picture of the addition that is going up next door to me. It is a nightmare and still not completely sided after almost 2 years. To add to the frustration, there are 3 or 4 unrelated men living under that one roof. The poster from Brooklyn reminds me of how much better regulated things are in a big city. None of this would fly in Binghamton NY where I grew up.

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