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Correcting the code inspector

CLamb Member Posts: 119
About a year ago I was having dinner with an engineer who worked on a number of large commercial projects in the New York metro area. He mentioned that he sometimes had a code inspector ask for changes which weren't required by the code. He said he handled this by asking the inspector for a code citation because the company required that he give a citation for any work order for changes. The inspector invariably backed down after consulting the code.

How often does this situation happen to you folks? How do you handle it?


  • SWEI
    SWEI Member Posts: 7,356
    I've had this happen in three different states. It's fairly common when we have an inspector who does not yet know us and our work. There's always the occasional bad inspector, but once we run a couple of bad decisions up the chain of command they usually settle down.
    delta TEzzyTPaul S_3
  • Rich_49
    Rich_49 Member Posts: 2,695
    edited August 2016
    It happens here quite a bit . In Jersey you must require the inspector to cite what chapter , paragraph , sub paragraph you are in violation of . He must oblige . When he does this then you can attempt to have a civilized discussion with him in the case he is incorrect .In the case he is and does not understand or has an issue in interpretation we make a formal request for interpretation to the Division of Consumer Affairs , code assistance unit . They give us an opinion within 72 hours max but usually faster .
    As Swei stated that usually calms the beast and they tend to become human and realize that they are not the Authority having Jurisdiction . By that I mean that most States have an adopted model code that the inspector enforces . He does not get to make up his own facts and rules , that's for Politicians
    You didn't get what you didn't pay for and it will never be what you thought it would .
    Langans Plumbing & Heating LLC
    Serving most of New Jersey, Eastern Pa .
    Consultation, Design & Installation anywhere
    Rich McGrath 732-581-3833
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 870
    One of my best stories happened when I was 19. I have been doing this working for the family business for as long as I can remember so I had a lot of experience under my belt at this point but I looked like I was 15.

    Some back story: My city went through a brief period where the AHJ decided that we were not allowed to use unions on gas lines any more, instead we were required to use LR nipples and couplings. No idea why and it was changed back the next year. We had installed a buried gas line (PE with anodeless risers) from the meter which was at the street to the house ~20'. Got an inspection with the line under 20 PSI and now had to get a final inspection with the line connected back to the house. I made two swing joints with 4 90's and some nipples and the LR coupling and nipple in between the two sets of 90's which allowed me to start the threads and tighten the coupling and everything pulled straight once the LR coupling was tight. Painted it, turned the gas on, checked for leaks, lit pilots and waited for the inspector.

    He shows up and it was his second day on the job and boy was he an arrogant son of a......

    He walks up to see little 19 year old me standing proudly next to my work.

    Now at this point I have to tell you that the LR couplings that were being sold at my supply house at the time did not have hubs, they instead looked like thread protectors, except they had a big 'LR' stamped in the side. They were proper couplings with tapered threads, they just looked weird.

    So up walks this inspector doesn't say a word just stares at the piping scowling for a good 2 or 3 minutes from 10' away. Finally he looks at me and says "Well, thread protectors are not allowed to be used on gas, but I'll let this one slide." To which I respond "That's not a thread protector its actually a LR coupling see? (pointing to stamp on coupling) anyways I wouldn't have been able to get this together without using a LR coupling and nipple." and being the little **** that I was (am?) I then said "so you would let a thread protector go? to my knowledge they have never been approved as fittings because the lack of tapered threads does not make for a good seal." He angrily scrawls a signature on the inspection ticket and walks off without saying a word.

    He had so many complaints filed against him that he was taken out of the field after about two months. I heard though I never confirmed it that he threatened to call our local utility and request that they interrupt electrical service to a house undergoing a bathroom remodel when he walked in to do the rough inspections and saw an outlet without a cover on it in a room not associated with the remodel that the HO's were getting ready to paint. Gotta wonder sometimes.....

    I think that most inspectors are doing a hard job as well as they can. I always try to be on site when the inspector is there to answer any questions and solve any problems right away. There are a few that I have seen though that just want to be "right" and are doing the job because they get some weird power trip from it. Those can be difficult to deal with, but it is usually an easy call to ask them to give you code citation for their requirement, or as SWEI says go a couple rungs up the ladder and it is solved easily.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,284
    There's all kinds of inspectors. Most of them are good guys (& gals), but you come across a bad apple from time to time. I always start out with the assumption that they're looking out for me, since I don't want to it wrong. If that proves not to be the case, well, sometimes they just want to talk, or show you how smart they (think) they are. I figure I'm paid to deal with them as much as I am able. Sometimes, though, I gotta buck it up to the office. It really helps that Big Daddy is neighbors with the previous chief building official... :smiley:
  • Bob Bona_4
    Bob Bona_4 Member Posts: 2,083
    I had one come on job and tell me I don't run my pipes like "this". I am to run them like *this*.

    He drew out an S and two bars thru it.

  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,284
    Heh. Word around here is that one inspector (asshat of the highest order) was run outta town when he insisted through official channels that a certain hanger he was financially interested in be used, he would accept nothing else. I never had a problem with with him, I had realized that he was one of those inspectors who will find something wrong. I always had something for him to find.

    It got even better when I discovered that it didn't even have to be in the trade he was inspecting...

  • nicholas bonham-carter
    nicholas bonham-carter Member Posts: 8,566
    How frequent is the S with the two bars through it brought up, (presuming he wanted a "tip")?--NBC
  • rick in Alaska
    rick in Alaska Member Posts: 1,389
    We ain't got none of them there inspecta's here, so no problems!
    Well, except we now have gas here and they do inspect, and are good about it. but other than that..... we are on our own!
    I did have some problems when I lived in Portland,Or and was doing fire sprinklers, but only until they got to know our work. Then they were easy to get along with. But yeah, always leave something for them to look at when they get there. We always left something minor, and then took them right to it to get there "opinion" on what we should do with it. Helps there ego a lot. Most of them were pretty good though.