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Problem with building inspector, bathroom is in limbo.

Problem with building inspector, bathroom is in limbo.


  #1  
Old 11-14-08, 08:39 AM
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Problem with building inspector, bathroom is in limbo.

I was having my bathroom remodeled in PA. I looked on the website for my city and it said nothing about a bathroom needing a permit. My contractor said that I should not need one since I am not changing the structure but only pulling out a tub and putting a new one in and also a new sink. Well after 2 days of work, my nice little neighbor across the street called the inspector who came down and immediately accused me of illegal construction. He was very rude from the get go. I was shocked so I asked what I needed to do? He said I needed to have the contractor stop and he could fine me $2000 a day and hold the permit for 30 days which would cost me $60,000. I said in a shock, you mean a fine? And he said, "oh so you want to be fines do you!" and he said something on his nextel. I said no, that's not what I meant! I just want to get this resolved! Why are you being such a jerk? I asked. He said, oh, are you threatening me, I will call 911 if I have to. Then he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs that my neighbors must hate me! He screamed this. Then he screamed, you don't know the law do you! (which I thought I did according to the website). At that moment, my guy came out and he seemed to calm down. Was he treating me different because I was female? I asked him where I needed to go to get the permit, and all he would say was, I dunno, I dunno. Basically playing stupid. My guy then talked to him. He seemed to calm down. At that point he refused to talk to me. I asked if I could just get a permit. He said, "I will give a permit to you but not to her!" referring to my contractor. So he went down and filed the permit. It has been 2 days and when I call down there, the lady says it is still in the bin and they just haven't gotten around to it. My bathroom is half apart and I have kids! We haven't bathed in 4 days but I am afraid to do anything because these guys could make it worse for me I feel. I have drywall and materials in my living room. It would be done by now if it wasn't for this! What can I do???

I heard these people can make your lives a living hell. I would like to not take it but fight back against unprofessional behavior and retaliation. I just want the permit so I can get on with it and get my bathroom finished. My house is almost inhabitable which is what the inspectors office seems to be doing to me. I thought they were there to protect us as public officials? I am afraid of his threats to fine me. Really afraid to call. In fact, I just called and the lady at the permit office told me she will call me when the permit is approved.

(STUCK) I feel people should not be punished for trying to improve their bathroom. (The old one had all the shingles falling down and water was washing behind the tub and if I had waited, I would have rotted my joints). What do you do if you call an emergency plumber service with water gushing everywhere? Wait to do work until you can pull a permit?
 

Last edited by Shadeladie; 11-14-08 at 08:47 AM. Reason: Offensive language
  #2  
Old 11-14-08, 08:55 AM
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Hi! Can I ask what city do you live? Cities have different zoning laws and someone may be able to better help you.
I just went thru something similar and long story short, I was right and they were wrong and only after I told them I was going to put a complaint in for harassment, did they admit I was right. I had spent 3 days prior, doing my homework and I knew I didn't need any permit, so don't give in so easily if you feel they're wrong.
In my city, only if you're adding on do you need a permit, not for replacing.
 
  #3  
Old 11-14-08, 09:14 AM
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Problem with building inspector, bathroom is in limbo.

troach -

Something does not sound right. You said that your were only replacing the sink and tub. Next you say this will cost you $60,000 plus the fines. Also, missing shingles and water runung behind the walls makes it appear there was considerably more work that a mere replacement.

Did you check directly with the city about the need for a permit? - No information on the internet could possibly considered legal advice since it could be old or incomplete.

Did you ask your contractor if a permit was required?

I am assuming the "nice little old neighbor" had a reason for calling. Calling the inspector a "jerk" was not to smart and he was not going to waste time arguing since he was just there to do his job, which has been made much more difficult. He probably had to "yell" to get to you after you started calling him names.

It would be interesting to hear the whole story. If you want to file a claim, just make sure you can document what was said and done and have some plans that you used to order the material you have.

Dick
 
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Old 11-14-08, 09:23 AM
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I agree with Dick's comment above.
Usually, Bathroom remodelling doesn't need a permit, however, it seems to be a disagreement between your concept of remodelling and the city's
I'd suggest that you go to your building department and, in person explain and get a solution
 
  #5  
Old 11-14-08, 09:33 AM
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I think "shingles" may have meant tile? Just guessing.

And I'd like to hear more as well. Was the wall open to the outside for some sort of framing repair or to put the new tub in? How did the Inspector know the extent of the work going on? Did he come in the house?

You need to go down to the Office. They are public servants, they work for you. No you don't want to get into a screaming match with them (or anyone for that matter), but they may not have all the facts either. Go down with pictures or drawings and your written contract (you do have a written contract don't you?) with the work to be accomplished. Of course it would have been better to do this beforehand, but thats not the issue.
 
  #6  
Old 11-14-08, 10:37 AM
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Building Permits are a Pennsylvania State requirement when doing some repairs, building or maintenance on your home or building, including installation or alteration of plumbing. Building permit approval is required BEFORE you start your project. Codes and Permit requirements vary from area to area.

A plumbing permit is a document that ensures that plumbing installations are performed by licensed personnel in order to safeguard persons and property from unsanitary and unhealthy plumbing conditions.

For instance, in Philadelphia, PA:

REQUIREMENTS
A plumbing permit IS REQUIRED for the installation, alteration, renewal, replacement and repair of plumbing. A plumbing permit SHALL NOT BE required for the following activities:
  • Minor repairs including the replacement of faucets or valves or parts thereof with like material or material serving the same purpose; or the removal and reinstallation of water closets, provided the work does not include the replacement or rearrangement of valves, pipes or fixtures.
  • The sealing of sewer laterals for building demolitions contracted by the Department.
  • Stopping leaks in a drain, water, soil, waste, or vent pipe provided that no piping is replaced with new material.
  • Clearing stoppages or repairing leaks in pipes, valves or fixtures, provided that valves, pipes or fixtures are not replaced or rearranged.
http://webapps.phila.gov/li/
 
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Old 11-14-08, 11:51 AM
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Another thing I should point out is if a contractor or plumber is doing the work then it's their job to get the permit, not the homeowner. As far as I know, at least in Phila., a homeowner wouldn't even be able to get a plumbing permit, unless they had a license also.
The only thing the homeowner can get, is a zoning permit and/or a building permit, and as far as I know, you don't need these for replacing things.
This inspector should have been talking to the contractor about this, not you. You can't be fined either, only the contractor, since he's the one doing the work. What sort of contractor is this anyway that doesn't know the laws? Anyone that has a professional business and a license, pretty much knows what they're required to do. Seems odd.
 
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Old 11-15-08, 05:30 AM
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I think this inspector was a little ticked off that you didn't pull a permit and was thinking you were doing the work behind his back. It sounds like he has an ego problem. I would go to the mayors office and lodge a complaint about them holding back your permit and harrassing you. I would also fire the contractor for not knowing that you needed these permits.With neighbors like that who needs enemies?
 
  #9  
Old 11-15-08, 06:28 AM
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"Usually, Bathroom remodelling doesn't need a permit, ..."

In my area anything that involves pumbing will require a permit.
That includes replacing a tub, toilet, vanity etc.

troach - We're only hearing your side of the story but getting into a pi**ing contest with the inspector is the absolutely worse thing you can do. If I were the inspector and you called me a jerk your permit application would spend a loooong time at the bottom of my in basket.

If your version of the story is correct than I suggest that you contact whatever politician represents you in the city and explain the situation to them and ask them for assistance to resolve it.

Now it sounds like your best bet would be to have your contractor deal with the permit office. That's something most contractors do as a part of their job anyway.

BTW - Emergency repairs by a plumber would not require a permit.
 
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Old 11-15-08, 09:27 AM
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Lets define the concepts--> if you are remodelling from the drain / up (changing the toilet, tiling the walls, etc) you don't need a permit. If you are doing work from the drain down, this is a plumbing installation and yes, this needs a permit
The same conceps is valid with the electrical installation
In other words, the permit is linked with the liability and the professional assuming the responsibility
 
  #11  
Old 11-15-08, 01:40 PM
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I think the poster made it much worse by calling the inspector names......

The poster better make sure everything is up to LOCAL/STATE/NATL code prior to having this guy come back. It's not going to be fun.......

We are beyond who should have gotten the permit anyways, the inspector has you on his hitlist.
 
 

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