Inspectors... again... ugh

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Occupation
Electrical and Automation Designer
I completed work for a service change/upgrade (on my own house) at the end of June. This was after waiting two months for the permit application to be approved; I only got the permit approval pushed through because I formally complained to the township.

I was scheduled for final on Friday morning. The 9ap-1pm comes and goes, so I call the building dept. I wasn't on the schedule. After name-dropping the guy I spoke to at the end of June to schedule the inspection, I was told someone would be right over.

Some guy from the township (not the electrical inspector) showed up 20 min later, and it was immediately clear he had no idea what he was looking at. He knew it, and he knew I knew it. They sent a warm body. No signoff, because he had to check with the inspector.

It was my own house, and I was working from home Friday. How do you guys manage this kind of crap when you have to meet the inspector, and he wastes half your day where you should've been on another paying job? Most contracts I've dealt with withhold final payment until final inspection; 4-6 weeks for a final sounds absurd. This is why people don't pull permits and get trunk slammer handymen to do work cheap, and often substandard.

The difference is, I suppose, that I'm a homeowner in the township and I plan on speaking with the town council at an upcoming meeting. I don't have a whole lot of interest in taking this lying down. To the EC's who deal with this on the regular, I commend you.



SceneryDriver
 

goldstar

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
You did the right thing by complaining to the township. Just a point of info, don't bother contacting the DCA because they have no authority of how a township operates it's building dept. They can only intervene when you have a problem with an EI and even at that, they will only offer their opinion.
 

Ken_S

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Occupation
Electrician
There are two issues as I see it, one the town's don't want to pay enough to get a really qualified full time inspector. Second because they don't want to pay, they will hire people with multiple licenses.
 

brantmacga

Señor Member
Location
Georgia
Occupation
Electrical Monke
Most contracts I've dealt with withhold final payment until final inspection; 4-6 weeks for a final sounds absurd.

If there's a significant amount of money on the line and schedules are tight, we use 3rd party inspection services in states that allow it.

I haven't had to deal with inspections taking that long, fortunately, but plan review/permitting times are atrocious in most places now. We've had several projects pushed back and/or canceled over permitting delays.
 

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Occupation
Electrical and Automation Designer
There are two issues as I see it, one the town's don't want to pay enough to get a really qualified full time inspector. Second because they don't want to pay, they will hire people with multiple licenses.
They've had an "Assistant Electrical Inspector" position posted for (I'm told) the last 18 months. I looked: part-time, no benefits, salary commensurate with experience, (read as: "probably insultingly low"), must licensed NJ electrical inspector.

I just can't imagine why they don't have the masses beating a path to their door...



SceneryDriver
 

Ken_S

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Occupation
Electrician
They've had an "Assistant Electrical Inspector" position posted for (I'm told) the last 18 months. I looked: part-time, no benefits, salary commensurate with experience, (read as: "probably insultingly low"), must licensed NJ electrical inspector.

I just can't imagine why they don't have the masses beating a path to their door...



SceneryDriver

Exactly, the town's just view the construction office as another revenue stream.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
You did the right thing by complaining to the township. Just a point of info, don't bother contacting the DCA because they have no authority of how a township operates it's building dept. They can only intervene when you have a problem with an EI and even at that, they will only offer their opinion.
Most of the grief I've had to deal with has been on the fire alarm side, and my experience is that they will make life difficult if there is an inspector consistently out of line. After all, the inspector may work for the town, but he gets his license from the DCA.
 

gadfly56

Senior Member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Professional Engineer, Fire & Life Safety
Exactly, the town's just view the construction office as another revenue stream.
DCA's guidelines make it clear that the fees collected should be commensurate with the cost of running the department and not be a "cash cow" for the town.
 

ggunn

PE (Electrical), NABCEP certified
Location
Austin, TX, USA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer - Photovoltaic Systems
Years ago I designed and supervised the construction of a ~250kW PV system on the roof of a school in a jurisdiction I will not name. The lead installer and I met the inspector at the site and we went up to the roof. The inspector looked at the rows of SMA Sunny Boy inverters (years ago, remember), and said, "Wow. That's a lot of microinverters."
 

ramsy

Roger Ruhle dba NoFixNoPay
Location
LA basin, CA
Occupation
Service Electrician 2017 NEC
This is why people don't pull permits and get trunk slammer handymen to do work cheap, and often substandard.

As economic trends, like the 2008 great recession foreclosed property / taxes, busted municipal budgets, and forced de-funded building departments to sequester qualified inspectors, more AHJ's have adopted corporate Welchism. Building departments are replacing the cost of skilled inspectors with indemnity affidavits against liability, from historically negligent general-contractor laborers, and owner-builders doing DIY electrical.

It doesn't help that panel flippers lurking everywhere mislead people to believe upgrades without permits or inspections will go undiscovered. Then install 200 Amp upgrades with old 50 or 100 amp utility wire, so drive by code-enforcement won't see the new construction without permits. When new tankless water heater, car charger, hot tub, or air conditioners burn up old service wire, these jokers can't be found.

Unqualified flippers typically fail to match breakers to box, violate listings, omit electrodes (GEC) to earth, or bond GEC to new boxes, which allows lighting strikes to destroy the building interiors.

During remodel work these jokers don't check for smoke detectors, or AFCI's required for replacement plugs, but do provide an over abundance of legal causes for insurance cancellation & non-renewal.

Municipal inspection records are public, for insurance to check missing building permits & safety inspections. Real-estate law follows property sellers missing the resale declaration for any construction defects, and electrical-code violations happen to get blamed for most damage claims.

Since the great majority of residential trade persons are illegal laborers, or home owners that answer the robocall for unqualified remodels without permits, most existing dwellings in the US are poison pills, which void property insurance claims for future buyers, and the liable party is not easily pinned down after this poison is sold.
 
Last edited:

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Occupation
Electrical and Automation Designer
As economic trends, like the 2008 great recession foreclosed property / taxes, busted municipal budgets, and forced de-funded building departments to sequester qualified inspectors, more AHJ's have adopted corporate Welchism. Building departments are replacing the cost of skilled inspectors with indemnity affidavits against liability, from historically negligent general-contractor laborers, and owner-builders doing DIY electrical.

It doesn't help that panel flippers lurking everywhere mislead people to believe upgrades without permits or inspections will go undiscovered. Then install 200 Amp upgrades with old 50 or 100 amp utility wire, so drive by code-enforcement won't see the new construction without permits. When new tankless water heater, car charger, hot tub, or air conditioners burn up old service wire, these jokers can't be found.

Unqualified flippers typically fail to match breakers to box, violate listings, omit electrodes (GEC) to earth, or bond GEC to new boxes, which allows lighting strikes to destroy the building interiors.

During remodel work these jokers don't check for smoke detectors, or AFCI's required for replacement plugs, but do provide an over abundance of legal causes for insurance cancellation & non-renewal.

Municipal inspection records are public, for insurance to check missing building permits & safety inspections. Real-estate law follows property sellers missing the resale declaration for any construction defects, and electrical-code violations happen to get blamed for most damage claims.

Since the great majority of residential trade persons are illegal laborers, or home owners that answer the robocall for unqualified remodels without permits, most existing dwellings in the US are poison pills, which void property insurance claims for future buyers, and the liable party is not easily pinned down after this poison is sold.
Maybe, but in a hot to normal real estate market, many buyers won't care or won't know to look, especially in non attorney review states. If it were the poison pill you say it is, no house could ever be sold, and we clearly see that's not the case. Home insurance claims are honored all the time too.

If it's something egregious and easy to prove causation, then home insurance may decline to cover but if a homeowner puts in a water softener without a permit and then a tornado flattens the house, there's not much proof the water softener was at fault.

Bottom line is, if Karen wants a new kitchen and she's told its going to take multiple months for plan review, she's probably not going to care about the permit. Gotta get those granite countertops. There's always some unlicensed scumbag to come along and do the work (poorly) too.

It ultimately doesn't matter to me how long it takes to get the inspection, other than I just want this mess behind me. EC's waiting on final inspection for final payment on the other hand should be raising hell when this crap happens, but I know they often can't for political reasons (future jobs in the AHJ's fiefdom).


SceneryDriver
 
Location
Cincinnati
Occupation
Journeyman electrician
Question for all the ECs out there: how did you start your business? Did you have your license before you had your customers or did you build your customer base with “side work”?
I see a lot of garbage work inside homes, I see a lot of garbage work in commercial and industrial
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I completed work for a service change/upgrade (on my own house) at the end of June. This was after waiting two months for the permit application to be approved; I only got the permit approval pushed through because I formally complained to the township.

I was scheduled for final on Friday morning. The 9ap-1pm comes and goes, so I call the building dept. I wasn't on the schedule. After name-dropping the guy I spoke to at the end of June to schedule the inspection, I was told someone would be right over.

Some guy from the township (not the electrical inspector) showed up 20 min later, and it was immediately clear he had no idea what he was looking at. He knew it, and he knew I knew it. They sent a warm body. No signoff, because he had to check with the inspector.

It was my own house, and I was working from home Friday. How do you guys manage this kind of crap when you have to meet the inspector, and he wastes half your day where you should've been on another paying job? Most contracts I've dealt with withhold final payment until final inspection; 4-6 weeks for a final sounds absurd. This is why people don't pull permits and get trunk slammer handymen to do work cheap, and often substandard.

The difference is, I suppose, that I'm a homeowner in the township and I plan on speaking with the town council at an upcoming meeting. I don't have a whole lot of interest in taking this lying down. To the EC's who deal with this on the regular, I commend you.



SceneryDriver
I've heard a few horror stories about NJ. Had a great coworker from there who had to leave because of taxes, politicians & cost of living. A customer had run a garage there for years and had a hard time his last few years of it. I have a daughter there now and hope she doesn't go into construction trades there.
 

infinity

Moderator
Staff member
Location
New Jersey
Occupation
Journeyman Electrician
You did the right thing by complaining to the township. Just a point of info, don't bother contacting the DCA because they have no authority of how a township operates it's building dept. They can only intervene when you have a problem with an EI and even at that, they will only offer their opinion.
IMO you should complain to the DCA. If they get enough complaints they will amend the building code. This is what happened with roofing permits. Many people complained about spending money on expensive permits and no one ever came out to inspect the work. Eventually they said no more roof permits required for a re-roof job. They have actually taken some steps in recent years to remove the permitting requirement for certain types of work.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
IMO you should complain to the DCA. If they get enough complaints they will amend the building code. This is what happened with roofing permits. Many people complained about spending money on expensive permits and no one ever came out to inspect the work. Eventually they said no more roof permits required for a re-roof job. They have actually taken some steps in recent years to remove the permitting requirement for certain types of work.
Wow! There is hope after all. That is good news for sure. People should all fight back while we still can.
 

jmellc

Senior Member
Location
Durham, NC
Occupation
Facility Maintenance Tech. Licensed Electrician
I don't know for sure but it probably took a decade to change the roofing permit requirements.
A customer from NJ told me about a friend of his having a fire at the house. Fire dept came & put it out. Fire marshall showed up and asked about the front porch, said it wasn't on the original plans. He had a laptop with a print of the house. Guy said he built it himself. Fire marshall fined him for no permit AND made him tear it down.
 

SceneryDriver

Senior Member
Location
NJ
Occupation
Electrical and Automation Designer
IMO you should complain to the DCA. If they get enough complaints they will amend the building code. This is what happened with roofing permits. Many people complained about spending money on expensive permits and no one ever came out to inspect the work. Eventually they said no more roof permits required for a re-roof job. They have actually taken some steps in recent years to remove the permitting requirement for certain types of work.
I'm not there quite yet. I'm working with another office in the township to get this dealt with - they've been extremely responsive. It may come to filing a complaint with the DCA though.


SceneryDriver
 

garbo

Senior Member
Had the most trouble in small hick towns that after my inspector passed the job local guy would fail it. Worst one was after doing a few days of work and passing local inspector called and bad mouthed me big time to my wife that I had 3 serious code violations. I called him and said if I had 3 legitimate violations that I would find another line of work. Clown failed me for splicing one wire in new panel in order to reach a 15 amp breaker . Other two violations were from soda company guy who installed an outdoor illuminated sign and wired it in after I was finished. Told Mr clown that sign was not on my permit and not my responsibility and yes the NEC does indeed allow wires to be spliced inside of service panels. After that he approved job.
 
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