How to deal with a bad inspector?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Building Code' started by anticlmatic, Dec 4, 2019.

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  1. Dec 4, 2019 #1

    anticlmatic

    anticlmatic

    anticlmatic

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    I have a small plumbing business and we recently got a new inspector for our county, and he is a nightmare to work with. Very inconsistent with how he inspects things, saying something is OK sometimes, then failing us for the same thing in the future. Refuses to answer simple code based inquiries when they come up, and instead just tells us to ‘look in the code book,’ and almost always drums up some tiny detail on a job to fault. He seems to take genuine pleasure in screwing people over. I’m not alone in my complaints, he’s pretty much universally despised by all the other plumbers in the area. How does one deal with that?
     
  2. Dec 4, 2019 #2

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    I've seen many of them in my time but I was n a better position to deal with them. As a design engineer on many projects. And the fact that I new the city's plumbing supervisor helped as well.

    I've had a couple of inspectors where I told them to check back with so 'n so(the head of the dept) and/or show me where in the code it was required.
    But as a plumber I would suspect your best bet is to write a nice letter of complaint to his/her superiors and try to get as many plumbers as possible sign it, as well.
    Interpretation of the codes intent is not uncommon and you should have the right to question it as well as request an official clarification.
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2019
  3. Dec 4, 2019 #3

    CT18

    CT18

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    I am a plumber in Michigan and know several inspectors. We have had several tough ones in the past, one of which i am good friends with today. You need to learn how to make him happy whether it is what you agree or even sometimes what code says. For the most part code is an interpretation. Some guys let things go where others will knock it down. I know butting heads with them leads to more headaches.

    I battled with one of the old city of Detroit inspector for several years on Comerica Park and Ford Field just could not make him happy. We finally just basically asked him how he wanted it and that is what we did, he is also the guy i am good friends with today
     
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  4. Dec 4, 2019 #4

    johnjh2o

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    Don't argue with them they will only make it harder for you on the next job. I worked in the state of Connecticut that had a state plumbing code but it also said that is was the basic code. Which could be improved upon by the local building authority. The worst part was it did not have to be in writing.
     
  5. Dec 4, 2019 #5

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Now there's a good example of incorrect interpretations.:eek:
     
  6. Dec 4, 2019 #6

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Maybe a few C notes contributed to his “widows and orphans fund” would bring him around, haha.
     
  7. Dec 4, 2019 #7

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Reminds me of when i was a kid helping my unlicensed father.
    When doing gas work that required shutting down and turning the gas service back on. The going rate was about $3.
    That was about 65 years ago. How things have changed.
     
  8. Dec 4, 2019 #8

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    You know what they say about working on gas lines?

    Business is booming!
     
  9. Dec 23, 2019 #9

    FishScreener

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    Get a “Code and Commentary”, copy of the code, which has a code paragraph, and then a comment paragraph, which explains what the code committee was trying to do, with that section.

    Nothing in the code is accidental, but many inspectors, have no idea of the “why” behind what they are inspecting, and frequently misunderstand the meaning.

    I’ve seen a lot of confused inspectors, because the AHJ can hire them with out the ICC certification, and require them to pass the exam within a year.

    If you can show them the commentary, it can help them reach the correct “interpretation” of the actual code.
     
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  10. Dec 23, 2019 #10

    breplum

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    If you are lucky, there will be a higher level supervisor in your area, and usually even someone in charge above that.
    Contact that supervisor and keep detailed notes on the issues.
    I really know how a crappy inspector can make life as a contractor miserable.
     
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  11. Dec 26, 2019 #11

    frodo

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    What I would do
    take pictures of what he says is a violation
    go to the head inspector [his boss] and humbly ask him to explain what exactly is the violation
    if the head inspector agrees with his inspector. then change your installation method
    if he disagrees with his inspector. then ask him to talk to his inspector.

    every time he dings you and you disagree, go see the head inspector.
     
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  12. Dec 27, 2019 #12

    Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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    I’ve battled with electrical and building inspectors in the past. In my cases the code ‘violation’ was stated but the inspector failed to read or acknowledge the next paragraph which was “Exceptions”. Both of my exceptions were legit, and in fact specifically the kind of conditions for which these exceptions were written!

    in the case of the builder I had to take it to the hearing and of course the inspector was wrong I was right but we had to go through those gyrations. in the case of the electrical inspection I told the head of the department that the electrical inspector doesn’t know the code and is not permitted on my property ever again or I’ll have him arrested. I also called the mayors office and told them if they don’t tear up this violation I will sue them. The violation was torn up I left things the way they were and never heard from them again.
     
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  13. Dec 27, 2019 #13

    frodo

    frodo

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    I plumbed a Mortuary/autopsy Building in Jupiter Florida
    The plumbing inspector red tagged my job. The GC told me he [inspector] did not know WTH he was looking at and wanted to bring a Master from a local company in to look at my job. i really did not have a problem of a Master looking at the job but I had a HUGE problem about the red tag.
    When he showed up with the master I flat out asked him who the hell did he think he was to red tag my job because he did not know WTF he was looking at.AND That I was NOT paying for a re inspection
    the master liked my work and even agreed with me that the inspector was wrong in issuing a red tag
     
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  14. Dec 27, 2019 #14

    Mitchell-DIY-Guy

    Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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    On another laughable event, we were having the final grade inspection done on our new house back in 1992. The builder intentionally altered the grade in a small spot so as to be very obvious. I asked him why he did that and he said “we need to provide a violation for the final inspector to find; if we don’t do that they will find one anyway so we may as well give them one that we create knowingly that is easy for us to correct!”
     
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  15. Jan 6, 2020 #15

    anticlmatic

    anticlmatic

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    These are all some great tips, thank you.

    I wouldn't have a problem working with him to do things the way he wants them done, but he is very inconsistent- and when he does fail things, he won't spell out what the problem is. Instead, he will just quote whatever piece of code from either plumbing or residential that he thinks is pertinent. Then he will ignore your calls for clarification, or deliberately stonewall with "look up the code and find what you did wrong."

    I can't decided if he's a mindless walking code book and building department drone, or if he is just a sadist.
     

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