+1 for inspectors

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A lot of people in the trade like to bash inspectors. I would like to share my recent positive experience. I had a job that was a simple panel change. It was a simple FPE R&R (exterior panel). Underground service, we were just changing the panel , a 150 for a 150, the meter was not being touched. I called for an inspection on Thursday. The inspector called me that afternoon and told me since they were short a man that day and missed that inspection and it would get done the next day. I called him back and told him that the HO was waiting for him that day and could not be there the next day. I told him that I personally looked at the CWG and it was where it needed to be and jumped over the water meter. I told him that he could at least verify the size at the panel. Further I asked him if he would take me at my word and not require access to the house. He told me that would be fine. He looked at the work we did on the panel and signed off on the job. I have worked w/ this inspector before but would find it hard to say that we had an existing relationship. He looked at our work and made a judgement that we were on the level.

I find that too many inspectors are just trying to find a way to find violations rather than ensuring a safe installation. Kudos to this man for finding a common ground and trusting in a safe, compliant installation rather than looking to beat the letter of the law into the ground just to make a few extra bucks for his municipality.
 

Cavie

Senior Member
Location
SW Florida
We were NEVER allowed to leave the homeowner without power overnight. No matter who's fault it was. Job got called to POCO and we inspected the next day.
 

electricmanscott

Senior Member
Location
Boston, MA
I'm not about to give this inspector a pat on the back just yet.

You don't really know this guy too well and he doesn't know you all that well. Yet he is ok with you just telling him that something is ok even though he won't be looking at it?

Why even leave the office? He can just do inspections by phone.
 

cschmid

Senior Member
we have working relationship with our inspector. we also do not leave our residents over night with out..That I credit to our POCO and the men who do the work..But it does take coordination with every one..

Yet there are very few outdoor panels in this area and they are not residential normally on the farm and only for disconnects..I just can not wrap myself around having the breaker panel on the outside wall..
 
electricmanscott said:
I'm not about to give this inspector a pat on the back just yet.

You don't really know this guy too well and he doesn't know you all that well. Yet he is ok with you just telling him that something is ok even though he won't be looking at it?

Why even leave the office? He can just do inspections by phone.

He had recently (about a month ago) inspected another job of mine. At the panel he could verify the wire size. Based on the vintage of the house and the general conditions of this subdivision (circa early 80's when someone from his department must have inspected it once) he could make a leap of faith that it was installed properly. Those plus my conversation gave him enough confidence that it was all OK. I once had an inspector that never left his car (I actually don't think he even put the vehicle in park), asked me a few questions about the job and asked for the card so he could sign it. That guy I had no respect for. This guy I feel established some mutual respect.

not wrap myself around having the breaker panel on the outside wall
It took me awhile to get used to it also but when in Rome... It's weird how we get used to certain things and judge them as better. I swear by having the panel inside. My journeyman who came up in this area where the majority of panels are on the exterior of homes prefers them to be outside.
 

ElectricianJeff

Senior Member
I had a 200 amp. upgrade last summer where I screwed up and forgot to call the day before for an inspection. When I did call that day I was informed of my mistake and the Inspecter couldn't make it out till the next afternoon. Since it was also the hottest day of the year I went ahead and called the POCO and told them that erverything was good to go and we were ready for a reconnect. Lucky the lineman that showed up was somebody I had worked with many times before. After I explained the situation he agreed to hook it up for the night and swing by first thing in the morning and disconnect for the inspection.

I buy him a beer everytime I run into him when out.
 

SmithBuilt

Senior Member
Location
Foothills of NC
What concerns me in these situations is the liability.

I've had inspectors drive up to a job, see me standing there and ask if I did the job and never get out of the car. These are not drinking buddies or close friends just inspectors that I've worked with.

I've often wondered if a problem occurred whether it was my installation or not and the inspector was called to testify where the liability would land?

Of course it does not help that some of the inspectors in my area may have 30 inspections called in for one day. I've had to make an appointment with some in order to get the customer going in a normal time. I've also waited 3 days for an inspection.
 
wawireguy said:
We just work it live... this stuff has gotta change..

Why? We kill the panel so there is no load and then we pull the meter. We do our work, reinstall the meter (or jumpers depending on the scenario) then fire the panel back up again circuit by circuit. That is SOP in these parts and also where I learned the trade. If your local practices are different it doesn't necessarily mean that one way is better than another, just different. The panel we were working on was dead and the meter pan covered while working next to it. I don't see any special annointing for a meter guy from the POCO to come out and do what I am capable of doing in a safe and compliant manner.
 
I recently had a chance to walk thru a set of plans for a dentist office with the plans examiner and local electrical inspector/plans examiner.

He had cited the originals for not having GFCI receptacles within 6' of a sink. (Everything else that needed GFCI was, but the microwave, under counter refer, sterilizers and treatment areas were not.)

Everything but the treatment rooms that was within 6' of a sink was now shown as GFCI. The electrical inspector mentioned GFCI as he pointed to a treatment room, and I mentioned the exception for "patient care area wiring" (I'm going from memory, so I could be wrong). He looked at me, and said "Let me get my NEC." Left the meeting, and went and got his NEC. He flipped to the GFCI requirements, and scanned down thru to the exceptions. He found it, and read it out loud, the looked at me and said, okay, you were right, it's right here.

That is a +1 for electrical inspectors as far as I'm concerned.

Any inspector that will actually pull out the code book (NEC, OBC, OMC, OPC , Other assorted or local book) and read thru it with you should get at least a +1.
 
That is the kind of thing that I am talking about. It seems that too often inspectors are concerned w/ being right regardless of the circumstances. An inspector who is willing to look at all of the facts and be reasonable with his judgement is the kind we need more of.
 

C3PO

Senior Member
Location
Tennessee
I have seen a lot of cases where the inspector is 100% right about failing something or wanting something changed, but in the eyes of the EC he is wrong or just trying to make extra money. I think most inspectors are not appreciated enough.
 
I've had inspectors fail me and came away thinking they were absolutley right and decent guys. I've had inspectors pass my jobs and came away thinking they were jerks. I'm not perfect. I am happy to have someone else look at my work to make sure it is all above board. When I get the feeling that an inspector has the mind set that we are all on the same team and are striving for the best, safest installation I will take criticism from him all day long. When I get the feeling that the inspector has an us versus them mind set and is looking for picayune items to justify his existence I can barely stand to look at him.

An example of the former: I called for an inspection and the inspector told me that he would be there at 10. He showed up at 9:40 and I still had about 15' of trench to deepen (the excavator cut the trench at 12" mistakenly). Some guys would have walked away and told me to call it in for the next day. This gentleman thought about it and told me he could swing by a bit later after making some other inspections in the area. That was working with me and ensuring a safe compliant installation.

An example of the latter: I was walking an inspector into a basement to show him the cold water ground and he saw some NM cable that was obviously installed many years earlier and was not supported properly. He told me that he could not sign off on the service because those cables weren't supported. I offered to go my truck to grab a hammer and some staples and he told me that he couldn't wait around and I needed to call it back in for the next day. I understand that he is busy but the fact that he wouldn't take me at my word for such a small thing (we are talking about a grand total of about 6 staples and the time we spent talking about it I could have had it mostly done) gave me the distinct impression that he was looking to set up an adverserial relationship.
 

cowboyjwc

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Simi Valley, CA
C3PO said:
I have seen a lot of cases where the inspector is 100% right about failing something or wanting something changed, but in the eyes of the EC he is wrong or just trying to make extra money. I think most inspectors are not appreciated enough.
This is a good argument against contract inspectors. I get paid the same no matter how many times I go to your job, unless of course I go out two or three times and you're not ready or not taking care of corrections that you might have, then we will hit you with a "reinspection fee". Other than that I get paid the same whether I sign the job card or write a correction notice.

I would rather spend an extra couple of minutes with you and see if we can get the job done in a way that will work for both of us, than to sit there and argue with you for a half hour about who's right and who's wrong.
 

nyerinfl

Senior Member
Location
Broward Co.
Today I had a bad encounted with a know-nothing inspector. He got real mad when I asked for a code article for a rule I knew not to be existant about bundling/supporting MC cable, said he'd be back with his boss I said "good". Then he comes back, without his boss, and apparently you can only bundle 3 MCs under one wiretie before you have to derate, news to me. So upon the 4th cable in that tie the MC is derated from 20 to 16 amps. An attempt at explaining #12 is good for 30 amps under 310.16 90 degree column left him with a dumbfounded look, and unwillingness to accept my logic. Long story short he passed my ceiling, failed my final and left me in a bad mood. :mad:
 
C3PO said:
I think most inspectors are not appreciated enough.
Just like lawyers, the bad 10% set the stage for the other 90%.

There's an old saying that a mad customer will tell 100 friends about the horrible service, price gouging, etc. but will only tell 1 friend about great service, fair and honest pricing, etc.

In other words, either a lot of people do non code compliant work and want to complain, or a few bad inspectors make bad decisions, and we want to complain.
 

C3PO

Senior Member
Location
Tennessee
DanZ said:
In other words, either a lot of people do non code compliant work and want to complain, or a few bad inspectors make bad decisions, and we want to complain.
IMHO it is both. :smile:
 
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