What Should I Do about an incompetant electrical inspector?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by copperkid3, Apr 20, 2006.

  1. copperkid3

    copperkid3 Well-Known Member

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    Dwelling in the state of Confusion -
    :soap: :duel: :grit: :flame: Sorry this is a bit long, but it needed ALL this to give everyone a handle on what has transpired.
    This has been an on-going problem ever since I moved back home and started building our "dream-home".....almost 9 yrs come July. We're in the country and the township requires inspections done by their electrical, plumbing, and mechanical inspectors before the building inspector comes in and gives his final seal of approval (okay for occupancy) and along with it; the much needed homesteading on the residence which lowers the taxes by 40+%! Been working on it steadily.....paying for materials/labor as we go; don't have any mortgage, no payments to the bank, it's paid for.......and the township supervisor who is an old family friend (well he used to be) claims that they want to see us finished and moved in as well.
    Here's the problem: While building the "dream-home", we bought an old fixer upper a mile from the site and quickly made it habitable to live in while we worked on the "dream-home"; with the long-range goal of dividing it into an upper and lower apartments to use for rental property. Of course it needed new electrical/plumbing/furnance(s) and I purchased the necessary permits. In contacting the electrical inspector to have him give me the low-down on what was needed, I made it VERY CLEAR upfront that the place was eventually going to be changed into a duplex; an upper and lower.....and to give me the requirements necessary in order to make it comply to the same. He understood (or so he said at the time), and we prepared a written list of the parts needed. I then hired my contractor friend (at $20/hr!) and together we worked at putting in the necessary equipment; multi-meters to the house; new mast, the whole nine yards and finished it in about a month. Called the inspector back out to have him check it out and sign off. We walked thru the house and he was commenting on the excellant work and how everything was very good......then he got this funny look on his face and said, "Ahh youa'll said you wanted this to be a duplex didn't ya? Ahhh shucks.....I screwed up.....I gave ya the list for a single family dwelling.....youa'll have to tear this stuff all out and start over.....gee, I'm sorry about that." Well....to say the least, I was surprised......shocked..... and ANGRY.....this man cost me a bundle and now it was for naught. To top it off, when I refused to do any further work on that the place, he got nasty (probably because he gets paid by the number of inspections and they're supposed to do at least 2-3 per property) and tagged my meter with a sticker claiming unless I got things going again, he was going to have the electric company pull my meter! (Don't see how.....I pay the bill each month!) Also, since time had elasped, I was going to have to purchase another electrical permit!!! Well that did it.....I contacted the township supervisor and complained......know what I got in response?
    He'd had a talk with the guy and the inspector claimed that I'd been wishy-washy from the start, in deciding whether to put in a duplex or keep it a single-family and also, that he'd never stated that he'd screwed up and told me that he made a mistake! Well....duh....of course he'd say that, his job would have been on the line.....but the upshot to the conversation with the supervisor was that he believed his inspector.....implication was, that he didn't believe me! Strange.... 2 yrs before moving back, I'd discussed with the wife that we would be buying the place and fixing it up to make it a duplex like the property next door that I'd bought 25 yrs earlier and done the same thing too! Why then would I tear out the interior staircase, reverse it around and put in an exterior door in the outside wall to access the upper apartment? So many question, and no answers from the supervisor other than.......he believes his inspector.
    Translation to me......it's VERY HARD to find and keep an electrical inspector in this township.
    Fast forward.......in fact exactly last year around this time we tried to get stuff finished enough to move into our "dream-home".....only the inspector "remembers" the trouble that I caused him......makes me buy another permit for this house as well.....and then won't answer his phone or return my calls to get his butt out to do the inspections. Supervisor says that he will talk to him about it.....translation: he still needs an electrical inspector and nothing happens.....
    This past week, we have all our ducks in order.....the electrical has been done/checked and rechecked; along with the plumbing/mechanical. Contacted the other inspectors and finally got ahold of the electrical inspector (AFTER calling the supervisor to complain that he would'nt return my calls!); he called DW and told her he'd be over the following day....no time stated; just would be over. I waited around ALL DAY and when the DW got home from work at 5pm, we both waited around until she finally went to bed at 11:30pm.....still no inspector and no answer to his phone. I got mad.....still mad......and need some suggestions (short of physical violence to him or his)....about what should I do? :nono: I told my father, that I was just about ready to take out an ad in the local paper to inquire if any other township residents had had problems in dealing with this inspector. He told me to wait awhile as it would reflect badly on the man who hired him; the supervisor and then I might have problems. Seems I already have problems....and unless we get signed off on occupancy BEFORE May 1st, we lose out on the homestead exemption.....meaning MORE taxes.
     
  2. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    i would call a lawyer. this type of abuse and this gross negligence should not be tolerated. these people are not gods. they do not have the right to treat you this way.

    what were the differences in what was required for single family vs. duplex? what needed to change?
     

  3. frugalville

    frugalville Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you have your ducks in a row now. Also sounds like your nose is bent out of shape over the whole deal. What are you trying to accomplish ? Reimbursement for the inspector 'telling' you wrong? Getting this guy fired ? Or just a sticker ? Are you prepared to go down that road timewise and financially. Think 'end result'. Use honey and not vinegar. Sounds like your a POed guy who just wants a sticker.

    Just call his supervisor again, and tell him he no showed on you, won't return calls and you really need to get your property inspected asap. YOu will probably get a story like 'he said he called', or his cellphone died' , but be nice. You have obviously ruffled the inspectors feathers. Suggest if 'the guy' cannot successfully schedule and complete the inspection, that someone else, maybe even himself, could.

    Between subs and inspectors, it is enough to make you pull your hair out. Deep breath, venting is done, swallow your pride, be curteous, and get your sticker. The last thing you want going around the inspector pool is you are a troublemaker. They could really make your life hell getting inspected. I would concentrate on the end result, instead of trying to get 'even' or get this guy fired.

    I know, rules, laws, your rights, blah, blah, blah...But decide if you want a revolution, or a sticker.... Been there.. let cooler heads prevail. Good luck.
     
  4. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Electrical Inspector Electrocution comes to mind.

    In your situation I would probably ask my attorney to write a letter to the township supervisor and the inspector (and whoever else the attorney suggested) detailing the situation and demanding that proper action be taken immediately.

    However, there is a lot of merit in what frugalville says. The objective is to get the job done.

    Situations like you describe are exactly why I refuse to build anything where permits and inspections are required. Little minds given some “authority” are obnoxious (as are public officials who allow them to misuse their position). “Power corrupts” is SO true; it goes to their heads.

    In NE Texas (where we lived recently) the local electrical co-op says, "We are responsible for everything up to the meter base. What you do after that is YOUR concern."

    I have made and installed signs as an aside. When confronted with permit requirements, I suggest to the business owner that applying for a permit be “forgotten about” and that I install their sign at 0600 on a Sunday morning (while bureaucrats and their underlings sleep). There has NEVER been a problem, to my knowledge, with any of the many signs I installed.

    In fact, 0600 is a great time to do many things.
     
  5. pumpkinlady

    pumpkinlady Well-Known Member

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    I would attend the next Township meeting so you have all your ducks (Supervisors) in a row to ask what you can do to resolve this problem you are having with the inspector. Also, I would call the Township and ask to be put on the agenda for the meeting so that you know you are guaranteed a chance to talk about this. Our Township requires a couple days notice to be added to the meeting agenda.

    It is important to send the Township a written letter showing your concerns too. (registered & certified if possible) This leaves a paper trail that can be followed if need be in the future. Keep a running list of dates and times of calls too.

    Does your Township hire inspectors privately or do they hire an outside company that has the different inpsectors working for them? If it is an outside company, call them and ask what can be done to resovle the issue.

    I am sure this is stressful and wish you good luck. Please try to keep your cool when talking to any Township employee or elected official concerning this. Be courteous when speaking, no raising of voice or swearing.
    I hate to admit this but when someone comes in ranting, raving, swearing, and disrespectful no one is going to be in a hurry to help. (I am not saying this is how you are!)

    Hope you get this straightened out soon.
     
  6. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    What are inspectors? What are Permits? What are seals of approval?

    Sorry, I do know, or at least have heard about places where people feel the need for codes.

    We have no codes here in the country. If you want to pay an inspector to come out and look at your work, you can. But if they don't like it, that's the end of it. Now if you as a homeowner wanted an inspector to make sure a contractor had installed something properly, that would be fine... but if you do it yourself, the inspectors are a waste of time........as far as permits are concerned...for safety yes, but not allowing you to live in your home, no.

    My daddy always asked me if I learned a lesson, whenever I screwed up. Also reminded me when I turned 18, I didn't get a whipping anymore, but instead bills.

    Next time you undertake a project, check out the specific code requirements (little black book), so that you'll know what they are...so when the inspector shows up, YOU will know your work is up to date and correct.

    Good luck to ya...
     
  7. wvpeach1963

    wvpeach1963 WVPEACH (Paula)

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    I built homes for fifteen years in a 8 county area.

    Myself and my construction men would tell you to never start a fight with a inspector.

    I would suggest you hire a competent electrician quick. one that knows this inspector and can smooth this out for you.

    Often hiring one of thier buddies is what they really want anyway. So they can just sign off along the good old boy chain and forget the job .

    If you upset this bunch you'll for sure not meet your goal time line for your homesteading tax deadline.
     
  8. citilivin

    citilivin Well-Known Member

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    I would personally go down to the office and sit there until I was heard. Unfourtunately these agencies are pretty much immuned to lawsuits.
     
  9. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Do not cut your nose off to spite your face! The objective is to get the project passed and to benefit from the tax relief. As suggested above, remove yourself from the involvement and hire a licensed contractor to get you in compliance ASAP. Most inspection departments are more closely linked to the state than to the county. You will not win overall as they are sheltered behind too many levels of government. Charge the expense to the rental and write it off! Remember, if you win the battle but lose the war you have lost your tax relief.
     
  10. Wildtim

    Wildtim Well-Known Member

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    As much as it hurts this is probably the best way to go especially with your deadline. Many building inspectors are corrupt little dictators wielding the sword of their power with wild abandon but until you don't NEED his approval I wouldn't stage a revolution. once you are in the clear.... petition time. :hobbyhors :hobbyhors :hobbyhors
     
  11. copperkid3

    copperkid3 Well-Known Member

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    :shrug:
    Well...... here's the latest update on the "battle with the inspector"......

    Got up around 8:15am and immediately called the township supervisor; his reply to my greeting was, " Well....did Ken get ahold of you?" I filled him in on what had NOT transpired.....with a little comment about...."it seems he's on a power trip or something!" Which brought laughter and a retort, " Your the ONLY person who I get complaints on him about." My curt response was, "Well that's one TOO many don't you think?" He then settled down and said, "I'll look into it...."
    A couple of hours later, the phone rang and someone said, "....This is Ken; how ya doing?" Never a word on where he was (or wasn't) the previous day; no sorrys, nothing.....just....."I can come out today after work if that's okay?" I decided to leave nothing to chance and pinned him down on time frame......sometime after 6:30pm. So now we wait and see......he could tell I'm sure.....that I was none too pleased with being stood up, ignored.....
    The DW says to keep my cool until the inspection is OVER and has been granted.....then if I want to see about legal ramifications or trying to get him fired......then go for it.....but not to rock the boat right now.....I told her.....woman.... the boat is taking on water fast already......it's long past rocking!!! :nono: :grump:
    In looking over the suggestions/advice/etc...the lawyer ideas sound good; but only as a last resort.....pumpkinlady .....gotta admit that I've already given your idea a twirl in my head about going to the next township board meeting.....and may very well follow up on that ......will see how the inspection goes first......but something really has to be done to prevent the next schmuck from having to go thru this too.
    texican.....I have no idea on what you're talking about.....not even sure whether you read my post or not.....it's not a question of "IF" I want to have the inspector out here or not (I DON'T), but that the township ordinances are strictly enforced and without the certificate of occupancy.....we don't get the reduced taxes with the homestead exemption.....so no choice in the matter. I've wired and rewired almost a dozen homes in the last couple of decades....so it's not a question of not knowing what I'm doing.....(but even if I run into a snag....have a high-school bud who is a licensed contractor who fixes it!) :rolleyes:
    wvpeach......funny that you bring up "hiring a buddy of his"......the plumbing/mechanical inspector is a hunting buddy of the "plumbing contractor"
    that I'd hired to help out.....only thing is.....I found out mid-way thru the job, that he wasn't even licensed and didn't know jack about what he was doing....kept saying that because him and the inspector were hunting buds, that he would get things "fixed"......didn't like the sounds of that and when the inspector showed.....he almost went along with the program (despite my silent misgivings) and at the last minute I think he had a twing of conscience and said that he couldn't approve it......that little fiasco cost me a pretty penny in wasted material/equipment and before it was all over, the "plumber" decided to rip me off by selectively "taking" a few items that belonged to me. :flame: :nono: :grump: We get to meet that inspector tonight in about another hour......let's hope he doesn't hold a grudge since I fired his "buddy".....
    Will keep ya'll posted as to the results....
    :hobbyhors
     
  12. fricknfarm

    fricknfarm Well-Known Member

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    wow. MO seems better and better every day. we have a friend that moved to MI, and called this Miseryouri, I guess he lives in michiCANTCR*PINMYOWNCAN without a bribe. I feel for you Copperkid. Try a bottle of Jimmy B or something. Unbelieveable.
     
  13. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You went outside the buddy line on this stuff, & so now it is coming back to haunt you. Not your fault, but - as you continue to fight, they will continue to make it hard for you.

    Either pay lawyers & electricians to get this moving again, or just keep dinking away 'forever' as it is now.

    The mofia & and the county permit setups are run about the same way. You handled the situation very poorly back when. Just how it is. You are totally, 100% right - if that is what you need to hear.

    But, being right will get you nothing here.

    --->Paul
     
  14. copperkid3

    copperkid3 Well-Known Member

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    :bouncy:

    Thanks for the encouragement people......it was definitely needed. Both of the inspectors came out in the evening; the plumbing/mechanical showed first and while we briefly talked about his "hunting buddy".....it became quite apparent that that was all he was......just a buddy.....but not one that he was going to jeopardize his job over. He actually was very congenial and knew that there were a number of things that still needed to be done, but that weren't absolutely necessary to getting into the house and that I'd be finishing them shortly. Nonetheless we also didn't get off scot-free......came up with only 4 small items that needed fixing before he comes back out next week to SIGN OFF!!! :) Got some of the needed parts tonight and should be able to get everything done in a couple of hours or less.
    The electrical inspector showed up about an hour later.....never a word about why he didn't show or call the previous day.....just very business-like and suggested I get a notepad and start writing......I didn't like the sound of that......but went along for the ride.....
    Went thru the house from top to bottom and came close to checking each and every outlet with his tester!!! (Only reason he didn't get them all, was either some sheetrock was up against the wall covering them or they were back in a darkened corner)....A number of things he "complained" about and said had to be fixed were that the decorative wide toggle switches were in upside down!!! I hadn't realized that there was actually a correct way to put them in, but apparently with him there is.....what I consider "make work"; make it work my way or the hiway.....but 5 minutes after he'd left, I had most of them switched around to the way he wants. All-in-all, he wasn't too bad.....some things are going to take a bit of work installing since most of the sheetrock is already in place, but they have to be done and it shouldn't be too much trouble. In all honesty, he located a couple of things that I wasn't even aware of.....yet.....things that would have or could have potentially dangerous consequences if not taken care of......a dead outlet; no power at all.....a couple of inter-connected smoke alarms that hadn't been connected to power .....just batteries......an outlet that was wired incorrectly; reversed polarity I think. When we were finished with the walk-thru and the list, he said that once these things were taken care of, to call him and he'd come back out for the FINAL INSPECTION!!!! :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy: :bouncy: :goodjob:

    So it looks like he wants to be out of my hair as much as I want him to be too.....should be able to get most of these taken care of in the next few days......and then the BUILDING INSPECTOR has to come out for the final inspection before he gives the official "certificate of occupancy" which makes it all legal. We've been living in the house "unofficially" for the past 2-3 months because of a water heater bursting upstairs in our "fixer-upper"; that and the furnance went kaput......oh yeah, when it rains, it pours.....and in this case it looked like Niagra from the living room ceiling when we stopped in;
    with a touch of the heat of the Amazon thrown in for good measure; something like 130 degrees farenheit!!! Apparently the limit switch stuck open allowing unlimited heat thru-out the house; our gas bill was a sight to behold......a lot of our book inventory was destroyed, but the rest of the house survived. Here's hoping for better days ahead in our "dream-home".....
     
  15. daytrader

    daytrader Well-Known Member

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    Inspectors are over worked and underpaid. Isn't everyone? Screw them.

    Get a printed off copy from your town hall of the code.

    Read that and MAKE SURE everything is in order. Get one more inspection. If the inspector fails you. Take it to the board. Very simple.

    Inspecters SHOULD not be telling you what you need. No way in hell. Follow the code. They should be able to HAND you a copy.

    I have had MANY I mean many, lots, with these so called pro inspectors. THEY DO NOT KEEP UP.

    I have failed many inspections. Been told it will take months to get this right. The EXACT SAME GUY comes out a week latter commenting on how he never seen a turn like this. Passes everything. Even stuff we did not fix he said was wrong BECAUSE HE WAS WRONG!

    I do think most of it is that $$$$$$$$$ got to have more inspections. Each time they charge here full rate.

    Around here the inspector is the problem.

    I purchased a double wide trailer. BRAND NEW. I mean new never lived in. He failed it on drive up and NEVER GOT OUT OF HIS CAR. No address on the mail box or on the home. 1 we have no mailboxes in this town. Second. I was not told it had to be 6' 6" to 7' off the ground. The only thing written was each property for 911 reasons would be defined with a address number 4" high. I nailed the 105 to the porch.

    This guy came out 4 times. Failing every time. The last time this FAST BOS was taken out of his car. He said "I will not pass this place for anything. I am not crawling under a trailer. Tare it down and build a house with a basement".

    To say the least when I have this type of problem. Do ya think the town board cares? We say get ride of the county inspectors.

    GET A COPY OF THE CODE go by it and follow it. Simple.
     
  16. pumpkinlady

    pumpkinlady Well-Known Member

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    Glad to hear that you have made progress and that you are almost done with the inspections. Some people just rub you the wrong way and it looks like you found one with your electrical inspector. (I do feel that he didn't handle himself profeesionally)

    Not all inspectors are just out to cause trouble and make money off of the people. In our Township when you apply for a permit you are told up front that you obtain the permit from the Twp. Secretary but certain projects have to apply for state inspections. You are given a packet of forms to fill out and 3 sets of instructions to read on what you need to do to obtain your permit. Once the forms are filled out and returned they are sent to be reviewed by the inspectors, the fee is listed on application, permit with list of when you need to call for inspections is included. You are given the phone numbers of all the inpectors you will need to contact (direct cell #'s). Once you pay for your permit you can start your project. The one time fee covers the permit and all inspections. No matter how many times you have to have the inspector out you never pay more. Inspectors usually come out to the job site within 24 hours.

    If a person is placing a mobile home on their property the foundation must be inspected before the home is placed on the foundation. This could require 2 different inspections. The home is not inspected since it has been inspection where it has been manufactured. The electrical line has to be inspected from the pole to the home though.

    Since 2004 when state inspections became mandatory in our Twp. we have not received one complaint about our inspectors and people have commented on how helpful they have been in the building process. There have been several occasions where the inspections have found major problems with fire hazards and foundations off as much as 7 inches for modular homes. If these inpections had not taken place these people might have lost their homes in the future or ended up with some major expenses later on. FYI: none of the failed inspections were from self-builders, all were contractors.

    Sorry about the rant ....