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Piedmont 06-28-2012 05:16 PM

My state is ridiculous
 
I just have to vent. I live in the lovely fair state of Massachusetts. Here's what I contend with.

1.) I go to fill out an electrical permit and find out in our fair state only licensed professionals can pull one. Oh, that makes sense. So I pay taxes so an electrical inspector can inspect professionals work? I have an idea how to save money, get rid of all the electrical inspectors they're not needed. The purpose of an electrical inspector is to inspect homeowners doing the work to make sure they did it safe, inspecting professionals work only is silly. The result is, homeowners all over do their own electrical and can't have a professional inspect it to ensure what they did is safe. Pure genius leaving homeowners unsafe, or new homeowners having no idea how unsafe their house really is.

2.) As a homeowner in this state, you can't do plumbing only licensed professionals. Ah, once again why do we have a plumbing inspector? So like the electricals we have homeowners doing their own plumbing and can't get it inspected to make sure it's safe and done right. Another way to save money, lets get rid of the plumbing inspector what's the purpose of inspecting only pro's work. Must be a cake job.

3.) Next, most of the population in this state lives on ~0.25 acre lots (100' x 100') or less. The building inspectors figured out a way to make sure they're working as hard as the electrical & plumbing inspector. Make the setbacks so anyone on a standard lot can't build anything in any direction. Set the sides to 20', since houses are wide and tend to have garages that doesn't leave room for too many people. Let's set the front to 20, and since that will enable many to fit something let's restrict it so garages, sheds, pools, accessory buildings, wood piles, can't be in the front. Big problem is the back yard since they're standard 40' if we set it to 20 like all the other sides we'll have to inspect more so we'll set the rear setback to 40' for no reason so no one can even build a 1' structure off the back of their house. This state is genius.

So you can't do pretty much anything. Want to rewire that bathroom? Need a pro. Want to pipe a dishwasher? Need a pro. Want to add a nice deck? Forget it. I seriously want to just give up and move to NH. Live free and die is their motto, you CAN do the work as a homeowner and CAN get it inspected by a professional! Our states should be Live enslaved, live in danger, live scared, and live taxed!

tinner666 06-28-2012 05:30 PM

At least there's no crime! Teddy said so! He wanted to ban guns in all states so crime would disappear. Thank him for your current woes too. I bypass the state whenever I'm up north.

CopperClad 06-28-2012 06:29 PM

I understand where you're coming from.. but trust me, the "professionals" should most definitely be inspected.. You wouldn't believe how many people in the trades just cut corners to get the job done. There are many honest, hard working, fast, sharp tradesman out there. Twice as many hacks! Inspect everything! Twice! As far as the homeowner DIY'in it up.. Many people have the what they don't know won't hurt them attitude, and if everything is done right, and to code, then to heck with permits and inspections.. Inspections are there to protect you, your loved ones, your possessions, your home! Welcome to the forum and good luck.:thumbsup:

JackDidley 06-28-2012 09:05 PM

Permit ?? Screw that. I'd just do it.

CoconutPete 06-29-2012 10:02 AM

Come to CT! That's what I did after 12 yrs in Mass.

user1007 07-02-2012 07:57 PM

You are not alone as many municipalities and states have enacted seemingly oppressive requirements. One reason is governments are hungry for money. I have mixed feelings.

If people could be trusted to learn and do things right maybe things would not have to be so rigid. And if with such knowledge people installed proper, electrical, plumbing and so forth without sneaking around or cutting corners things might be different. If you have ever lived in a place that enforces near no codes? You would have mixed feelings too as sewage for example goes directly into the ocean or nearby streams and washes up on your property or wiring is total mickey mouse and the embers from burning homes ignite the roofs of others that did do things right. Or someone gets 1st degree burns and my tax dollars go to treating them when they top out their insurance limits or cannot pay the premiums because they are not working.

And sorry but it is not the role of building departments to teach DIYers how to wire their homes or plumb their water, gas or sewer lines. And I would be totally annoyed if my projects for clients had been held up because some DIYer got in over their head and simply could not comply with passing inspections.

Should it cost either pro or DIYer $30 bucks an outlet for someone to come out and make sure all the pig tails for ground wires are correct and plug in an outlet tester to bless the connections? Of course not.

And should I have the attitude that some fool compromising on wiring, for example, deserves to have his or his client's house burn down? It seldom works out that others are not affected starting with fire departments and emergency responders being stretched to the limits fighting nonsense electrical fires or dealing with explosions from bad gas line installs that often do not stay contained to individual properties. And firefighters and community ER people cannot be in multiple places at once.

And I was pissed when some fool near me lit his unit on my floor on fire, and crispy crittered himself, because he disabled central smoke alarms. His stupidity became my problem as I had to inhale smoke he caused and it took ages to put insurance settlements in place to fix our common area spaces and clear the stench of combined burned building materials and human flesh.

Daniel Holzman 07-02-2012 08:14 PM

I too live in Massachusetts, but have had a rather different experience from you. Probably the town I live in. First off, the setback in your town is NOT set by the building inspector, it is typically set by zoning, which is administered by the Zoning Board of Appeals. So if you have a gripe with the minimum setback, the building inspector cannot do anything about it, you need to go to the ZBA.

Second, there is no State law in Massachusetts prohibiting a homeowner from pulling an electrical permit and doing their own work. However, depending on the Town, there may be local bylaws or simply a local enforcement policy that requires a professional electrician to either pull the permit, perform the work, or do both. My understanding of the plumbing laws is that under the State building code, only a plumber can perform plumbing work. Obviously this has little effect on the average homeowner, judging from how busy Lowes and Home Depot are selling plumbing supplies to Joe homeowner. And by the way, it would be a very unusual town that prohibited a homeowner from building their own deck, but of course you have to comply with zoning requirements such as setback.

bubbler 07-04-2012 04:32 PM

Piedmont,

I think we must live in the same town :laughing:

Electrical & Plumbing both require professionals and inspections. Based on my kitchen, bath and deck replacement... the inspections are basically a joke.

Plumbing... for rough inspection the guy showed up before the plumber had even called, saw the work half done, said "it looks like you're doing a good job" and signed the permit. At the final inspection the inspector walked straight to the tub, turned the water on full hot, measured the temp and said "You fail, water is too hot, call your plumber back"... plumber had to come back and lower the max. temp on the mixing valve... inspector comes back, straight to tub, measures temp, says "you pass" and signed the form. He checked NOTHING, looked at NOTHING... except the temp of the shower.

Electrical... guy shows up, he's about 90 years old... he walks into the kitchen, squinting through his coke-bottle glasses from 15' away says "Looks like you're doing a good job" (sounds familiar) followed by "I'll check the rest when I come for the final"... guess what happened at the final? "So everything is working?" ... yes... "Ok, well, than it looks good"... this joker never even opened my panel... if he had, he would have seen a few NEC 2008 and later violations--like missing AFCI for bedroom plugs, missing handle ties on MWBCs... or how about the fact that my electrician left his box cutter and the mostly empty bottle of aluminum conductor goo INSIDE the panel?

Framing... when my deck was built I got a lecture from the building inspector about following that IRC "Prescriptive Guide to Deck Building", he even condescendingly pointed out all the "No" things to follow.... I ended up hiring the deck out... I'll note that it passed rough and final inspections despite having at least (2) obvious "No" blunders, including notched 4x4 posts for the railings screwed to the rim joists--that was a huge NO in the book--must not notch, and must bolt, not screw.

Now I want to build a shed, but I'm told... "you need to talk to the building inspector, show him your plans"... well Ok, except can you give me some info about set backs? Are there exceptions for smaller sheds? What sort of foundation is required? Can I place it on crushed gravel, or are footings required?... "You need to talk to the inspector"... so basically I have to talk to this guy, and probably kiss his ring, so that he can tell me approx. what I can build... then I go off and draw up plans and have to come back to get his blessing once again... then they want a rough inspection... then they want a final inspection... and lord help you if you plan to run power out there! My guess is that if I hired a professional this would all be fast tracked, the inspections would be loosey-goosey. But if I do it myself those bums will nit pick it to death... Since they're professionals themselves, it's in their interest to run homeowners away from doing work themselves.

And the hours for these jokers are the best... the building inspector is available from 7AM to 7:45AM on Mon and Tue. 12PM to 12:30PM on Wed and 9AM to 10AM on Thur. The town hall is closed on Friday. Oh, and when was it that I was talking to that clerk? It was 7:30AM on a Tuesday... but the inspector isn't in today of course :furious:

The only good part about getting a few inspections is that it's basically impossible for them to determine what was done or not done as part of previous work. Who is to say my new hose bib wasn't done by my plumber a year ago? Or the new 20A circuit to the bedroom (which I did put AFCI on) was not done with the service change over to 200A?

So you can do your own work, just gotta go under the radar a bit...

Thunder Chicken 07-04-2012 06:27 PM

The system is definitely screwed up in Massachusetts. The inspection system makes things LESS safe, in my opinion. The building codes and zoning laws are there for good reason, but the inspectors really need to work more with DIY homeowners, not try to squash them. All that does is force homeowners with limited means to completely avoid raising their heads, pulling permits, and engaging professionals as needed. It puts homeowner DIYers in a position where they are tempted to tackle something that is way above their skill level.

My neighborhood is off by the lake and is away from the main drag, and as the system is such a PITA the folks that move in and renovate are doing it all under the radar; no pros, no permits, no brains. There are illegal decks everywhere. The house two doors down burned down last year due to the owner's boyfriend redoing the wiring. Half of my house was wired using extension cords run through the walls. A few of the houses will collapse as soon as a mouse walks by and farts.

The local box stores are doing a brisk business, as everybody in the neighborhood is a DIY'er, needing to buy stuff to "fix" what the last DIY'er screwed up. More often than not they are adding another layer of FUBAR to what is already there. The inspectors get paid when they can't stay below the radar, the box stores get paid, the rabble fumbles and stumbles.

Ryder Ireland 07-12-2012 12:05 PM

I have learned a lot. Thank you.

rusty baker 07-12-2012 03:08 PM

I'm glad I live in Missouri. I wired and plumbed my own house. Reroofed it. Converted a porch to a room and no inspections required.

Mort 07-15-2012 04:26 PM

Everett, Washington is a pretty big union town (Boeing is here), but it used to be way worse (Google "Everett Massacre" for evidence). In the 1950's, or thereabouts, my grandpa was making a mother-in-law apartment above his garage. He did all the work himself, to code (which was unusual for him, since his philosophy was "code" is a four-letter-word), and had the inspector come out. After everything was checked off, he asked, "was this piping done by a union plumber?" After answering that it wasn't, he had done it himself, it was failed. He had to pay a union plumber to come to his house, rip out the pipe, and install it exactly the same as it was before.

He passed away in 2007, and I'm pretty sure the downward spiral started when he learned I had taken a job that required me to join the Teamsters union.

tony.g 07-25-2012 04:42 PM

An enlightening read; from a UK perspective;

Electrics; We have a similar system of inspection/certification brought in 5 years ago, because DIYers kept killing themselves (our voltage is 240). This system will be scrapped next year because it's expensive and bureaucratic,(lots of people did their own anyway) so we can officially go back to re-wiring our houses ourselves (and taking personal responsibility for not killing ourselves)

Plumbing; except for gas piping,anyone can do any plumbing work, and no-one has to be licensed to do it for payment.

And I thought America was the land of the free. Still, the OP lives in the bautiful state of Mass., and that should be compensation enough for the petty rules.


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