Permit pulled, contractor MIA, Inspection scheduled...

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Old 02-07-13, 06:33 AM
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Permit pulled, contractor MIA, Inspection scheduled...

A co-worker of mine (young engineer, fresh out of school), bought her first home recently and is now dealing with contractor issues.
I haven't seen the house, but from what I know it's got problems. It's a duplex with two appartments, and is pretty old.

She hired a contractor (who pulled the permits) to install a second meter and seporate the second appartment to the new meter.
The existing knob and tube wiring was replaced, new meter and pannel installed, but the two appartments wheren't totally seporated, and now it comes to inspection time, the contractor is unreachable.

In general, does the contractor need to be involved with the inspection if he had pulled the permits?
If the inspection fails (something bigger then simply picking on small things), would this normally fall back on the contractor or the home owner?

I believe the money paid for the work completed ratio got a bit out of line, and the contractor has been paid more then he should have for the work that has been done to date.
I'm expecting most information to be local code specific, but general info and/or what is done in other areas could help me point my co-worker in the right direction.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 06:41 AM
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In The States the contractor is often not present for inspections. The contractor finishes the work then calls the Inspections Dept. to say this or that is ready for inspection. The inspector then leaves a card or sheet signing off that this inspection passes or failed and usually give a brief description of why it failed.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 06:55 AM
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I'm assuming it's the home owner's responsibility to have any issues resolved, despite the permits being pulled by the contractor?
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:14 AM
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I'm assuming the same thing Mike as ultimately it's their property, but I guess that would be determined by the wording of the contract they made with the contractor.

In this situation, you could anonymously check with the building inspector's office on your friend's behalf.

Being a painter, I don't have alot to do with permits. However, I have seen inspectors come and do their thing without the contractor or home owner being there. They checked out the deck that was built, wrote a nasty note on the permit about the builder covering up the framing when they weren't supposed to, told them to tear it down and rebuild as the joists weren't spaced properly. Sealed up the permit in a baggy and stapled it to the deck. Left.

I hid in the house painting when the builder showed up. He stomped about swearing and screaming for at least 15 minutes.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:16 AM
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That depends on the specific contract between the contractor and the client. Two examples:

If your co-worker contracted for a specific set of tasks to be done, and they've all been done and all passed inspection, but the inspector denies final approval because of some condition not covered (or universally done in conjunction with something covered) then getting the remaining work done is her responsibility.

If your co-worker contracted for work to be done to a specific standard or goal - let's say, to completely separate the two services - and the inspection says that that standard or goal isn't met, then the contractor should be responsible for doing the remaining work, within the original amount agreed to.

There are innumerable variations on all of this, but these two examples should more or less define the two ends of the playing area.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:17 AM
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In my mind, it would certainly be on the contractor to remedy anything that failed the inspection.

How long ago was the inspection/how long has the contractor been out of reach?
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:22 AM
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I'm assuming it's the home owner's responsibility to have any issues resolved, despite the permits being pulled by the contractor?
Ultimately that's what it comes down to.
I am present at all my inspections. IMO ....that's part of the job.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:24 AM
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In this situation, you could anonymously check with the building inspector's office on your friend's behalf.
I wouldn't. It's her property and her contract. You don't want to get triangulated into it - that wouldn't serve to meet your needs or hers - and your checking in at the permit office is likely to raise more questions than it will answer.

What would you learn, anyway? The information that your friend needs will be in the contract and the inspection report. You're welcome to ask here for an interpretation of any jargon you and she aren't clear about. If that fails, then a call to the AHJ's office to seek clarification might be warranted - by the property owner.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:32 AM
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Nashkat, I meant to just generally ask about whether or not the contractor has to be there and who's responsibility it would be to ammend work to pass an inspection. Just general info gathering, not specific to this permit. I doubt they'd tell you anything about that anyways due to confidentiality.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:36 AM
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As PJ said, I am present at all my inspections - or someone from my company with enough authority to say "yes" is. That's part of every job.

Even if we have to pull a foreman off another job to go sit and wait for the inspector. That's far more benefit to smooth relations with both the AHJ and our clients than not being there.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:39 AM
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While all of this information is good for understanding best practices, let's not forget jurisdictional policy differences. Mike's in Ontario, Canada.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mitch17
In my mind, it would certainly be on the contractor to remedy anything that failed the inspection.

How long ago was the inspection/how long has the contractor been out of reach?
The inspection (think final inspection) is next week. From what I understand, it's been a month or so since the electrical contractor stopped answering the phone or emails.

In the end, I am not going to get involved with this mess. For basic stuff (plaster, painting, basic plumbing or changing fixtures), I'd help, but with permits, contractors and inspections... Not touching it.

It came up in conversation while we where working on actual work releated stuff. I figured I would see what information or pointers I could get from here to assist her.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:43 AM
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Wildbill, knowing bureaucrats - and I used to be one - I'm just saying that having a third party asking questions is likely to set off alarms in the office. For one thing, it's a "Man Bites Dog" story. That is, it might happen once in a blue moon. That makes it a topic for speculation right there.

IMX, it's both safer and more effective to play their game the way they've set it up - work with, and from, the pieces of paper that they're trained and paid to review and to push. YMMV.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:44 AM
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Sounds like she may need to decide whether to hire a lawyer or just move on to a new contractor.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:47 AM
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Very true Nashkat. Never step on the toes of an inspector. You'll regret it the next time they show up.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:49 AM
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It came up in conversation while we where working on actual work releated stuff. I figured I would see what information or pointers I could get from here to assist her.
For now, "Wait and see" may be the best advice.

One question that got overlooked, I think: It sounds like the contractor did a lot of work. But what did did you mean when you said
the two appartments wheren't totally seporated[?]
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by wildbill7145
While all of this information is good for understanding best practices, let's not forget jurisdictional policy differences. Mike's in Ontario, Canada.
I've never had to personally deal with permits and what not, so general understanding is a start, then go looking for jurisductional specific information with the basic general knowledge.

Originally Posted by mitch17
Sounds like she may need to decide whether to hire a lawyer or just move on to a new contractor.
I believe she is looking into the small claims system for this contract issue.
By the sounds of it, the remaining work will be partly DIY and a new contractor. She's looking to pull the cables for the unfinished work and hire a contractor to do the final connection.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 07:55 AM
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Nashkat1,
From my understanding, the building was originally setup with 1 meter (2 appartments). Some of the electrical had been updated and some was still knob and tube.
The knob and tube has been upgraded by this contractor. Some of the previously upgraded electrical is still connected to the other appartment.
As it sits right now, sounds like it's not a fire risk anymore, but the pannel in one appartment still has electrical from the other appartment connected to it.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 06:00 PM
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I believe the money paid for the work completed ratio got a bit out of line, and the contractor has been paid more then he should have for the work that has been done to date.
I think this is a key point and you are probably right, she's paid the contractor too much at this point. The only other point I have to make is she may have hired the low bidder based only on price and not the contractor's reputation.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 06:13 PM
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I know that here in NJ, if the permit was pulled by the contractor, they are responsible for their work to be up to code. It is the law here that final payment to the contractor does not have to be paid until all work has passed final inspection. I know that the building dept in my town will help you go after a contractor if they haven't completed their work to code. But they have to be the ones that pull the permit.
 
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Old 02-07-13, 06:23 PM
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The most important part for her to do and remember is to keep documents of everything. Contracts, permits, dates/times of phone calls, etc. If it does end up in court (even small claims court), she'll probably be much better prepared than the contractor.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 05:21 AM
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I think this is a key point and you are probably right, she's paid the contractor too much at this point. The only other point I have to make is she may have hired the low bidder based only on price and not the contractor's reputation.
Being young, first house..., I believe both are very possible.

The most important part for her to do and remember is to keep documents of everything. Contracts, permits, dates/times of phone calls, etc. If it does end up in court (even small claims court), she'll probably be much better prepared than the contractor.
I believe she's been doing this.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 10:18 AM
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Legitimate contractors don't disappear. They are local businessmen that stand behind their work. If this guy got scarce after he was paid he may not fit that description. If that's the case your friend didn't do her due diligence when selecting a contractor.

If the contract doesn't require that the electrician be present she can't force him to be there, even if she can find him. The best way to prevent a sketchy contractor from bolting is to hold back a percentage of the payout until after inspections are complete.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 10:33 AM
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I may be off target, but this is something I saw on a Mike Holmes show. First, she needs to find out if the permits have in fact been pulled. In the show I saw, there were actual pieces of paper posted at the job, but they weren't valid permits....just something the "contractor" had printed up and posted. When they checked with the office no permits had been issued.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 10:36 AM
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I started watching Mike Holmes a couple months ago when enough people here told me I should - makes me think every contractor in Canada is horrible with what he finds.... I know that's not true but he seems to have no trouble finding horror stories.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 10:51 AM
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Worst I saw in real life was a commercial remodel where the contractor's alleged electrician replaced the three phase service panel with a singles phase residential panel from Home Depot. The person who was having the work done found out when the AC no longer worked. You guessed it three phase ACs wired to the new single phase service panel.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 01:00 PM
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One thing to note on the Mike Holmes shows is that he works/films in Southern Ontario, around Toronto. This is an old city with a huge immigrants population.
A lot of what is shown is old DIYers work, some of which was acceptable back in the homeland many years ago. It also has a lot of questionable contractors to pick from, so there is lots of show material.
 
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Old 02-08-13, 05:08 PM
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Worst I saw in real life was a commercial remodel where the contractor's alleged electrician replaced the three phase service panel with a singles phase residential panel from Home Depot. The person who was having the work done found out when the AC no longer worked. You guessed it three phase ACs wired to the new single phase service panel.
The worst I ALMOST saw was a know-it-all GC who wrote up his own elaborate specifications to combine two old 3-wire services into one new modern commercial single phase service on an old bar and grill to go along with his remodel. I told him he couldn't combine a single phase service with a 3-wire Grounded "B" 3-phase service. This maybe would have worked if he had proposed a 3 phase 4 wire 120/208 service, but he wanted to do it all on single phase!
 
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