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Hector the Inspector - gone too far this time. (GrandPAH)

jp_2jp_2 Posts: 1,935Member
I have a local bldg inspector who is trying to tell me he has the right to restrict my usage/access to my camp!!!!

i have comply with my permits, and the permits say nothing about restrictions, he is too lazy to even read my permit application to verify they are correct......

I think WE ALL need to start writing lettters to state and federal congress demanding due process.


  • Time is money....

    The PA inspection process is beyond broken! On Monday, we called for permit fees and attempted to arrange for inspection in two separate municipalities.

    The first one, a new sewer line installation, took three days to call us back, which is the norm & they never answer their phones - you must wait for them to call you back. The best they could agree to, was sometime in the PM this afternoon. Well, noon is in the PM & we weren't ready by noon. Said he'd be back by 4:30 PM. Didn't show till 5:30 PM. Two hours wait time at regular rates for two mechanics & hoe + operator and another hour at OT rates. By the time he arrived, the customers had read us the riot act regarding hooking them into the sewer and we complied. The inspector flunked the job because we'd removed the water test to connect the customer & left before we could re-test. I sense a real confrontation brewing!

    Second call was to our fair city on Monday - to request an inspection one week later on the following Monday. They called back today - four days later - to say Tuesday at 3:30 PM is the earliest they can inspect the new water service. Problem is, the excavator had scheduled the work for Monday & he's booked solid. On the horns of a second dilemma! Proceed or reschedule? Meanwhile, the water co is breathing fire up the customers' shorts to get-er-done or get service cut off.

    Stinks to high heaven. It's high time we had a formal complaint process in place for PA. The abuses are rampant.
  • ScottMPScottMP Posts: 5,884Member

    I can't belive what you have to go thru to be " above board ". And they wonder why companys don't pull permits. Sounds like they make it harder for the good guys.

    Somedays you eat the bear and somedays ...


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  • LeoLeo Posts: 767Member
    Got to get the citizens

    You have to get the citizens on board they are the tax payers/rate payers. If a few business men complain, oh well. If tax payer-voters start to complain it makes a difference. If the complaint is to be made on the state level elected officials begin to listen if they receive over six complaints. A complaint here and there is expected and seldom acted upon.

  • Mad Dog!!!!!!!!Mad Dog!!!!!!!! Posts: 157Member
    Totally unacceptable............

    You need some political muscle to affect this mess. Does your PHCC chapter have any pull? Wow! We thought LI could be rough....that is really bad...tough to make any $$$ as it is. Feel for ya. Mad Dog
  • Plumdog_2Plumdog_2 Posts: 873Member
    Unhealthy Situation

    Licensed contractors lives depend on blood pressure and anti-depressant meds, while the moonlighters go thru life without worry; one job to the next, no interruptions or hassles. Here in Colo. recent news stories tell of school building construction projects (150 of them) completed without any inspections whatsoever. Only one inspector, and he is too busy inspecting Carnival Rides to look at schools. I wonder if they wear Clown Suits and Tin Hats when they are out at the Big Jobsite.
  • Tim P._2Tim P._2 Posts: 47Member

    I don't think there is any excuse for not being able to return a phone call within 24 hours. I am building a house and this has been my experience: nobody answers the phone, you must leave a message; however, messages are returned, usually the next morning. They will schedule for a date or next available appointment, usually about a week. No times are available, other than between 8am and 3pm. I guess I figured this was about normal.

    So let me play devil's advocate:

    You received an afternoon appointment (better than what I get!), but you were not ready. The inspector agreed to come back later (my inspector was a *#@, I don't think he would be so gracious). He was inconvenienced when you weren't ready, but the inconvenience of having to wait for him isn't excusable.

    Second case, the inspector is at fault because your excavator can't make time in his schedule?

    No disrespect intended, i know you have been a great contributor to the site. Just viewing things from the other side of the fence.

    The solution might be to pressure the city/town for more inspectors. Is this guy doing 50 inspections a day, or just goofing off? I think that's the question worth asking.

  • view points welcome Tim

    I appreciate the expressed viewpoint Tim, but I believe scheduling an appointment one week in advance is substantially more than should be required. I am operating a professional business and time is money. Yesterday's stunt by the PI cost me in excess of $1,000.00 ($1,058.00 to be exact). A job that could have been completed within the bid time-frame incurred several hours of non-productive labor for my two mechanics and the hoe + operator. There was more than an hour of overtime charges incurred and return time today for everyone to complete work that would have been finished yesterday. Today's schedule is now disrupted.

    This particular third-party inspector has never been accessible by phone, cell, fax and takes at least a day (often longer) to return calls. Where we once could schedule a time, he now will only give us AM or PM. Our work does not fit into that kind of time-frame and showing up at 1:00 PM to inspect a new sewer line that's in excess of 100' is virtually guranteed to result in a job that's not yet ready for inspection. Bear in mind - we are charged for each visit, which leads me to wonder if showing up early might not be a way to gain additional fees.

    He said he'd be back "before 4:30 PM". He didn't arrive until 5:30 PM and he was verbally abusive (again). I caught the tail end of his tirade & overheard my son trying to reason with him as we pulled up. He had also instructed my son and another employee to tell the excavator he (the PI) doesn't like him. Our excavator is also a Master Plumber and, fortunately, has a wicked funny sense of humor & doesn't much care if the PI doesn't like him. As Mike was asking him to stick around because the "boss" was arriving, he said "to hell with him too - I'm leaving". He backed out of the driveway and began pulling away. Evidently, he thought I needed to catch some hell too & he slammed his pickup into reverse. Rolling down the passenger side window, he began dressing me down and said he wasn't passing the job. I can't recall what I said in reply, but everyone else noted I was pretty damned mad. The PI damn near ran over my feet when he slammed his truck into drive and sped off. No warning he was gonna take off & I was leaning in on the passenger side to speak with him. He's damn lucky he missed my feet!

    Today, I have begun the process of filing a formal complaint with the state of PA, have an appointment with a lawyer who specializes in PA's new code, arranged a meeting with a PA Legislator to discuss the codes mess, and I've arranged to speak at the next township meeting. I've had more than I'm willing to take from this so-called professional inspection agency. It's time to stand up and demand the professional level of service we all deserve.
  • Tim P._2Tim P._2 Posts: 47Member

    Point taken. There is no excuse for verbal abuse or for a poor attitude in general. The behavior is uncalled for and I support your position.

    I don't think you need anybody familiar with the codes to address this problem, as these problems aren't codes related, they're staffing problems. Wrong staff or not enough staff :)

    My original point was that I didn't think an AM or PM appointment was too bad (for the record, I do give specific appointment times [and i'm usually late :) ]). It does get a little aggravating when things aren't ready when you get there to inspect, but I certainly don't take it personally.

    You mention third party inspection agency- are these municipal employees, or is it farmed out?

    If you want to pursue the codes angle I would certainly consult somebody authoritative before speaking publically. I think the inspector had the right [actually, duty, if you read the letter of the code] to fail the installation based on the codes alone, sans the bad attitude.

    Does it seem like something I would do? Not really, I prefer to be reasonable rather than right.

    If you need any code input, please feel free to email me, I'd be happy to furnish what I have.

    Good luck,
  • agreed

    Precisely why I would have requested 3 PM had I had the opportunity. I would have expected to be ready by 2:30 PM and quite frankly we all build those costs for standing around for 30 to 45 minutes waiting into the base bid. The third-party inspector has been performing inspections for a fairly long time - 10 years, or more I'd guess. During that time, he has become steadily worse and slower to respond.

    With no means to communicate and their not having any desire to communicate, there's no way for me to call or two-way them to say we're ready or that we'll be late. I've been in the trades since 71 & have never been involved in excavating a 100'+ sewer ditch, installing a bed of stone, piping, pump out the septic tank & fill it with crushed stone before 1 PM. Toss in rocky soil for good measure.

    2:30 seems to be a fair average with 3 PM hitting the mark if there's any glitches.

    They are independent and bid their services. Low bidder gets the nod I'd guess. The municipal body gets a cut of the fees. Given that there's no cap on inspection fees, they almost can't lose money. According to more than a few others, this character is fond of visiting sites and flunking them by mailing a rejection notice - with no explanation or citing of the code passage. We haven't had a rejected or failed inspection with him in the past, so I'm not familiar with that side of the equation. I can put up with the boorish behavior and obnoxious attitudes, I've long since come to expect that from their firm. However, yesterday's behavior crossed the line. He also refused to get out of his truck and check the final connections. He had every opportunity to inspect our work, but refused to do so.

    The Township PI, who lost his job to the third party group, was congenial, professional, never acted like he was doing you a favor by doing his job, tough but fair, easy to reach by phone or cell or two-way and I can't recall a single time he was late or if he was, it wasn't late enough to be remembered. He was one of just a very few PIs who garnered virtually everyone's respect.

    As for the public speaking gig, I'm on that educational thing. The lawyer is a client of ours and knows PA's new code better than do the inspectors. He & I have had a number of long conversations about PA's mess and he's offered to help in any way at any time if we ever need his services. I appreciate your offer of help. As you've noted, it's more of a personel matter than it is a codes issue. But, the press will be there too and it's time to air some dirty laundry in the public aerena.

    There's much to discuss.
  • Tim P._2Tim P._2 Posts: 47Member

    Other than the personnel issue, my next stop would be

    ..and see if the guy actually has the credentials to enforce anything. Inspectors with bad attitudes like that generally think they don't need any training.

    Good luck,
  • jp_2jp_2 Posts: 1,935Member
    can't make it in real world

    so he is an inspector!!!
  • requested

    I contacted him to request titles, certifications and licenses he and the PI he sent carry. I need the info for the Labor & Industry formal complaint. He can either give it to me freely or give it to our lawyer who I'll be consulting with on Monday. The township manager is also on Monday's schedule for a conference. They'd prefer we settle this outside the monthly public meeting & I'm willing to discuss the scenario with him at length, but he'll need to be a great salesman to avoid having me speak publicly.

    As for that PA construction codes academy:

    (BTW, the education fee is now $4 bucks per permit.)
  • not fair JP

    Lots of certified PI's are doing a very good job. Like any industry, trade or professional service - there's rotten apples in every barrel.

    We simply need a better program that weeds out the most rotten apples. I'll be testing those waters as this moves forward. It's not something I relish tackling and it's certainly not something I ever thought I'd really be doing. But, my Irish is up - way up - and it's high time I stopped complaining (only) and did something about the mess we've got in PA. I've considered the business risks, which kept me from taking this step for years, but my tolerance limit has been greatly exceeded. This is not a one-time incident where this inspection firm is concerned and I am just one of many who have tolerated their outlandish behavior for far too long. A rogue elephant, if you will.

    That said, please do not turn this into an inspector-bashing thread.
  • gerry gillgerry gill Posts: 2,962Member
    man, Dave, i'm glad i'm around Cleveland..

    our inspectors are real gentleman, they are friendly, will do courtesy inspections as they're passing by on their way to a scheduled inspection..gosh, what a world of difference in just a few hundred miles.

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  • Rich Kontny_4Rich Kontny_4 Posts: 73Member
    Blood Boiling

    Maybe I am spoiled by Wisconsin's uniform code and the requirement of inspection/response within 24 hours. Your situation would make my blood boil.

    Without question you have very dangerous situations created by the lack of prompt inspection. What is needed is exposure of the incompetence and arrogance.

    I would contact a federal agency such as OSHA and explain the safety concerns you have with having ditches open for a week. How about trade associations or your state elected officials? How about an editorial in a well read newspaper from your area?

    Transparency through exposure will force these buffoons to clean up their act.

    Good Luck!
  • LeoLeo Posts: 767Member
    For 22 yrs I

    For 22 years I was a police officer. Had we treated people like that we would have been in deep doo doo. You can be agreeable or extremely by the book without being a jerk. I am now in local politics, the more people you have at your side the more response you will get. As you were told they rather deal with it out of the public meeting ie out of the press. It gives you an extra step so if they fail to deliver it just adds to the negative press. Like all of us, they don't need the aggravation. In my town with out a long story a town father was voted out in a special election, which lead to the town administrator and police chief quitting. These were the intended goals but it took a number of people to accomplish it.

    Good Luck,
  • Perry_3Perry_3 Posts: 498Member

    Do attempt to work it out behind the sceans first. This can be far more effective than speaking out - depending on the supervisor(s) involved.

    If it doesn't work out - then they have loaded your gun for you at the public speaking out.

    Concerning the lack of contact: In this day and age their is no reason that you should not be able to contact and talk to a local inspector within a few hours. Cell phones are the norm now.

  • jp_2jp_2 Posts: 1,935Member
    I agree dave

    i've worked with some down right normal acting professional inspectors, only one has given me trouble, but you do hear the horror stories a lot, a lot here.
  • hrhr Posts: 6,106Member
    Does he hassle other contractors?

    strength in numbers if you can go to a meeting with a posse :)

    hot rod

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  • yes

    However, they are afraid to stand up to the abuse. Where you & I have 'competition' by the hundreds in the phone book, the inspectors have no competition and no one to answer to. When we obtain a permit and inspection, they are in a position to do pretty much anything they like. No need to be professional, courteous or on time and no real need to do any actual inspecting if they're not in the mood. In addition, our license is on the line and they've had the authority to suspend it. Over the years, this has led to lots of abuse and, unfortunately, has attracted a number of folks with schoolyard-bully attitudes.

    So, we all play along and bite our lips because we don't want or need the hassles that go with telling the emporer he has no clothes.

    For decades this played out as PIs were simply appointed with little, if any, training. Most were decent fellows who strived to learn, but quite frankly, that wasn't kosher eiother as the consumers weren't getting what they paid for - a qualified and thorough professionally conducted inspection. Plumbing was all that was inspected or licensed.

    Then PA passed a state-wide code. During the 5+ years they kicked it around in the legislature, it got so watered down that it's riddled with absurd loopholes. However, while they strained to alter the UCC so that various lobbyist groups could be satisfied - they ignored the fact that they'd be about 2,500 inspectors shy of what was required! To fix that, they grandfathered all inspectors and gave them until 2009 to get tested. During this time period, they bestowed full inspection priveledges to all cureently serving. Everything connected to construction was suddenly ok for them to inspect. The perverse results were exactly as we in the trades expected. On the mechanical side of HVAC, the inspectors were, and remain - for the most part - clueless.

    Free enterprise raised its head as third-party inspectors discovered there was a demand for their services - a huge demand. And this time there really was no one to answer to. To be fair, most have proven to be reliable, professional and, while they're no more aware of what our work entails, they are at least curious and interested in learning while performing their duties in a professional, courteous manner.

    While we must build in some costs to cover the waiting-around and giving a tour time of our work, those who operate outside the rules without licenses and/or permits/inspections are being given a free ride. That puts us at a competitive disadvantage when bidding work - by hundreds of dollars on small projects where that makes a huge difference. Those of us who are playing by the rules have lost work to unlicensed contractors and, in spite of detailing specific jobs and job sites to the governing bodies, not one single incident was pursued - none. Many of the legit contractors have stopped obtaining permits and/or inspections.

    It's as bad a situation as I've seen in almost four decades and there doesn't appear to be any hope we'll see any improvements.

    We're paying much higher fees for the inspections and permits following the passage of the PA code. Almost a 400% increase in some municipalities. What was once a $30.00 fee is now $170.00 - or higher. Add in an abusive inspector who deliberately delays your work by more than four hours, is an hour later than the latest time he assured you he'd return and then refuses to get out of the truck to inspect your work. Followed up with a tirade about how he is overworked and can't get to the jobs he's scheduled - all the while being verbally abusive to your crew, an excavator and finally - you. It's not my fault they can't perform their duties and it's not going to be my customer's responsibility to shell out more than 1K for the additional costs we incurred.

    The inspector has yet to furnish the information I requested on Friday - titles, inspection license #'s and cert #'s. I meet with the twp mgr today at 2PM. The lawyer will follow & my formal complaint to the state of PA awaits the requested info from the inspector.
  • Well...

    As expected, at least from my perspective, the inspector has twisted the facts and tried to paint his firm in an angelic light. Not gonna fly.

    The twp mgr and I had a two-hour conference. He knows exactly where I stand and what our next steps will be depending upon the twp actions and the so-called inspector's final report. He is a sub-contractor to the twp and, just like any given job where we might hire a sub, the twp is ultimately responsible for his actions.

    Holding a few aces up my sleeve that haven't been revealed - just yet.

  • GREG LAUERGREG LAUER Posts: 103Member
    know what you mean

    we feel ya Dave, This whole permiting issue is another nightmare. I had to replace 2 rooftop units at a location is East Pete TWP.( direct replacement) and the inspector shows up and says he needs engineered structural drawings electrical drawings ect to get a permit. I am all for permits but lets put people in charge with common sense. the reputable contractors need very little overseing we do it right I see the need but for Gods sake know something about the feild before you are allowed to inspect or permit. It is way out of hand. A customer wants a job done and now the drawings have 30 days to be reveiwed and they won't call you till day 30 and if they are rejected they get another 30 days. We put a large wearhouse up at our shop and permiting added another 8 months to the job! it is a simple pole building!SOMEONE HELP again lawmakers who know nothing of our trades are calling the shots why not ask us!It use to be the gas co. was the only one you had to wait on.
  • Greg

    Thanks, I can use the additional support come the twp mtg if you are willing. Nice to see a local voice!

    I have asked for (twice) and not yet recieved the inspector's info so that I can file charges against him, his firm and the manner in which he conducts codes inspections. You know who it is, I suspect. I am filing formal charges against him, his firm and the PI he dispatched. Out attorney will decide if I should file assault charges against the his employee.

    I intend to air the charges, and more, at the twp comish mtg next month. The press will be invited to attend and I will be sending out press releases in advance.

    I have scheduled meetings with legal counsel and state legislators. On the state front, it will be important to have your voice heard. The PHCC and NFIB will be contacted next to garner their support and, given the descrimitory nature of code enforcement, I will be contacting the ACLU.

    BTW: direct replacement = giant loophole in PA's UCC - no permit & no inspection required. They have no jurisdiction if they adopted the new code.
  • Joe BrixJoe Brix Posts: 626Member

    ....I applaud your efforts, and hope that you prevail.

    Please keep us posted (I know you will!)as to the results.

  • John

    Thanks. I will, but it's going to be a long row to hoe and there's a few weeds to be pulled. No matter - every journey begins with a first step and I've begun. I've moved beyond the complaining-about-it stage & there's no turning back.

    It's time the codes in my area were enforced as they were intended to be - to Protect the Health of the Nation, not to protect the wealth of a few who think they answer to no one.
  • Tim P._2Tim P._2 Posts: 47Member

    Luckily NY added "Appendix K" which fixes your HVAC change-out problem.

    Without NY's amendment, page one of chapter one of the Building Code states the code shall apply to all new construction, repairs, demolition etc of buildings and all appurtenances.

    Which would mean all documentation would have to be submitted.

    Actually, that's pretty scary. I wonder if PA amended that as well.

    Good luck,
  • Tom QuatroniTom Quatroni Posts: 6Member

    Dave, We have the same issues here in Westchester County, NY Over 30 different Cities, Towns & Villages with their own local inspectors plus dealing with Con Edison as our gas utility.

    I'm thinking of ammending our proposal to include 1 hour for each inspection time on job. If inspection takes longer due to wait time, it's an extra.

    The homeowners can then rant & rave to their Mayor not us. They are the ones with the power.
This discussion has been closed.


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