I just donít understand the point of electrical permits

Reply

  #1  
Old 10-23-19, 12:05 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 115
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I just donít understand the point of electrical permits

First off, forgive me if this doesnít belong here and forgive the ranting-nature of this post.

I just pulled my first electrical permit for work on my house. I ran two brand new circuits out to my shed.

I spent so much time researching and planning my project. When installing, I was meticulous to make sure everything was as perfect as possible. I dug that stupid trench to a tee, breaking my back to assure the entire thing was at least 18Ē deep.

The inspector comes to review the trench and spends no more than 3 minutes reviewing the 150í length. While I was elated he passed it, I felt the entire ordeal was pointless.

Weeks later, after the electrical has been installed, the same ďinspectorĒ comes out and reviews the electrical. He isnít an electrician! He asked me what type of wire I used when the orange cable jacket was clearly visible to him. He then states, ďIím still learning about this stuff myself.Ē I honestly donít get it. What is the point of pulling a permit if I know more about electrical than the guy inspecting it?!

I keep reading these doomsday and fearmongering posts about how unpermitted work can lead to insurance not covering a loss or an owner not being able to sell a home until the proper permits have been pulled. That all seems like hogwash to me.

I do understand the town wants the permit money and I do understand they want to at least have someone (ANYONE) review the work but I really donít see what the repercussions are if I never pull an electrical permit ever again.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 10-23-19, 12:10 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 21,228
Received 264 Votes on 239 Posts
Even inspectors gotta learn sometime. And, don't forget that most inspectors inspect everything; footers, foundations, framing, electrical, plumbing... I don't expect them to be experts on everything.

Seeing an orange cable in or coming out of the ground should have been a red flag. I hope he gave it a closer examination to determine what cable you had underground.
 
CasualJoe voted this post useful.
  #3  
Old 10-23-19, 01:02 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 7,604
Received 91 Votes on 83 Posts
Permits are not meant to garner money (although it seems that way) but to insure consistent methods and materials are used throughout the town that meet safety codes. Can you imagine if permits were not needed. Everybody who thinks they are "experts" would build anything they want. Even with permit rules people will sneak all kinds of Rube-Goldberg contraptions. And how are insurance companies going to insure without standards to go by.

Without checking, IIRC correctly I think orange cable is under ground certified.
 
  #4  
Old 10-23-19, 01:57 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 7,604
Received 91 Votes on 83 Posts
I know your frustration. Just s few minutes ago I get a call from our town inspector to check on a very minor non conforming code on an electrical box that our A/C contractor installed. It was so minor that the company said most likely they won't even follow up on it. That was about three months ago. He will be here tomorrow morning to look at it. Talk about waste of time and money.
 
  #5  
Old 10-23-19, 02:31 PM
Member
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 1,390
Received 11 Votes on 11 Posts
Did you put in vertical pipe to allow the measurement of conduit depth at a few points?

Did you expect the inspector to dig??
 
  #6  
Old 10-23-19, 07:37 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,956
Received 33 Votes on 28 Posts
Orange NM cable, if that was what was used, is for inside use only. Outside, even in conduit, is considered as wet area.

A single circuit is allowed to outbuildings, not two. If this was a multi-wire branch circuit it would count as one circuit.
 
CasualJoe voted this post useful.
  #7  
Old 10-23-19, 07:43 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 53,582
Received 416 Votes on 389 Posts
It appears the inspector was there twice. The first time for a rough.

if I know more about electrical than the guy inspecting it?!
If that orange cable is type NM-b

I've never seen orange underground cable..... ever.
 
CasualJoe voted this post useful.
  #8  
Old 10-24-19, 04:52 AM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 7,604
Received 91 Votes on 83 Posts
I stand corrected. Thanks PJ.
 
  #9  
Old 10-24-19, 10:37 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,092
Received 29 Votes on 23 Posts
What is the point of pulling a permit if I know more about electrical than the guy inspecting it?!

I agree the inspector should know what he is doing; I also have had that frustration many times. A qualified inspector would have never passed your installation of NM-B cable underground, that is the point behind a permit and proper inspection.

I dug that stupid trench to a tee, breaking my back to assure the entire thing was at least 18” deep.
I am just assuming you installed conduit with 18" cover, direct buried cable should be 24" deep.
 
  #10  
Old 10-24-19, 11:16 AM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: USA
Posts: 33
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The reason is that the world is full of idiots who

1) Don't do the research
2) Don't use the correct materials

and

3) its a way for cities to make money

 
  #11  
Old 10-24-19, 05:49 PM
Mr.Awesome's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 592
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Inspections can absolutely be a joke and are totally a way to make money.
My first side job was a basement. Inspector came to check the rough-in, was happy, and told me "I'll just sign off now, I'm sure the final connections will be done right."
While I took the compliment, how does he know I'm going to finish the job right?
I also did construction, where some jobs never actually had an inspector come see anything. And some jobs where I knew our guys did some stuff wrong but he didn't catch it.
Just red tape to deal with really.
 
  #12  
Old 10-24-19, 10:03 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 115
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Iím not attempting to be confrontational here but a number of you are completely missing my point.

Regardless, in order to clear-up some inaccuracies, the orange jacket was the 10/3 Romex installed in my basement. That Romex gets transitioned to THWN conductors inside PVC which then goes outside to the shed.


While I took the compliment, how does he know I'm going to finish the job right?
My inspector was completely hands-off. Didn't test polarity, GFCI functionality, etc. How does he know I don't have an open ground?


And how are insurance companies going to insure without standards to go by.
I actually asked my insurance agent this very question and he said insurance companies don't care about that sort of thing. He said he's never heard of a case where a company didn't cover a loss because permits weren't pulled.

But I digress, having an inspector review the work doesn't mean the work was performed accurately and is safe to use.
 
  #13  
Old 10-25-19, 05:59 AM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 7,604
Received 91 Votes on 83 Posts
He said he's never heard of a case where a company didn't cover a loss because permits weren't pulled.
That might be true, but what if the code was not followed? And how would you know if code was followed? By inspection and permits. In your case was the inspection proper? Apparently not. Are all inspectors uninformed or lazy? Are all reasons for permits worthless? In some cases yes, but in the majority no. They serve a purpose.

Some of the half **s things I've seen people do (myself included when I was younger), makes me glad that there are rules, permits and inspectors. Sure it's a PETA but better than non at all.
 
  #14  
Old 10-25-19, 06:15 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 46,270
Received 140 Votes on 125 Posts
Inspectors are people just like us - some are easy going and will let stuff slide, some are real anal and follow the exact letter of the law while most are somewhere in between. Even if the inspector is easy going or lax on his duties, the fact that you pulled a permit generally means you plan meeting or exceeding code.
 
Norm201 voted this post useful.
  #15  
Old 10-28-19, 11:08 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 115
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
That might be true, but what if the code was not followed? And how would you know if code was followed? By inspection and permits.
I don't disagree on the overall sentiment but from an insurance standpoint, that could potentially put liability on the inspector or town. If the inspector signs-off on the work and down the road an insurance claim is denied due to the inspector's incompetence, the home-owner could have a claim against the inspector. The inspector is suppose to be THE governing-body for code enforcement. If code review is lacking and it leads to the denial of a claimed-loss, I don't see how it's not at the feet of the inspector.

Even if the inspector is easy going or lax on his duties, the fact that you pulled a permit generally means you plan meeting or exceeding code.
But I always follow code (as evident by my history of asking stupid questions!! )! I don't need a permit to tell me that! And if I do pull one, I want someone qualified to tell me the work is acceptable.
The only reason I pulled one is because the work is visible from my street. I don't want any nosy neighbor's calling town hall on me.
 
  #16  
Old 10-28-19, 11:27 AM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,242
Received 18 Votes on 17 Posts
I have to 100%7 agree with you on this one.

The panel in attached pictures just passed inspection today.

There more than a few violation in this panel, yet inspector did not catch any.

Either the inspector didn't even bother, or didn't know the electrical code.


This was done by a licensed electrician and I argued with him about the violations, but he was insisting everything is right. Now the inspector passed it without any issue and the electrician wins the argument.

Name:  p1.jpg
Views: 101
Size:  222.0 KB

Name:  p2.jpg
Views: 104
Size:  124.9 KB

Name:  p3.jpg
Views: 98
Size:  112.9 KB

Name:  p4.jpg
Views: 102
Size:  81.2 KB

Name:  p5.jpg
Views: 99
Size:  88.2 KB
 

Last edited by PJmax; 10-30-19 at 04:57 PM. Reason: resized pics/labeled #1
  #17  
Old 10-28-19, 01:36 PM
Member
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 494
Received 4 Votes on 4 Posts
I agree that inspections are often a waste of time and can lead to problems when trying to finish a job on time.

But, what if a community didn't have them? Without inspections to verify the building code was followed, there wouldn't be a need for building codes. And without building codes Ö?
 
  #18  
Old 10-28-19, 01:43 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,242
Received 18 Votes on 17 Posts
I agree that the inspectors are necessary. However, inspectors who doesn't know what they are doing shouldn't be doing the inspection.

Personally, I think the inspection should be done by the person licensed in the trade.

As for the things that are wrong in the panel I posted earlier.
1. Ground wire connected to a neutral bus bar in a sub panel.
2. Ground is not bonded to the panel (bonding screw for neutral was removed as well)
3. 2 neutral wires under single screw in neutral bus bar
4. CTL tandem breakers were installed on non-CTL bus by removing rejection tab (the electrician claims that is how it is supposed to be done)
5. MWBC connected to the same bus. No handle tie either. Installed on breakers far a part from each other. (The electrician claims it doesn't matter and actually safer to put on same bus as it will be 120V instead of 240V.. )

The inspector did not catch any of these even after looking a the panel for about 5 min.
 
  #19  
Old 10-28-19, 02:56 PM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA - N.E.Tn
Posts: 46,270
Received 140 Votes on 125 Posts
Personally, I think the inspection should be done by the person licensed in the trade
I think we'd all agree with that! Unfortunately, that isn't always the case.
 
  #20  
Old 10-28-19, 03:54 PM
Norm201's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: United States
Posts: 7,604
Received 91 Votes on 83 Posts
Like everything else, likely politics and cronyism plays a part.
 
  #21  
Old 10-29-19, 03:12 PM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,714
Received 29 Votes on 28 Posts
The purpose of inspections is to help ensure the work is being done to code. No inspector is going to take the time to check every little part of the job. The expectation is that the contractor is going to follow code and the inspector is there to double-check that the contractor isn't trying to cut corners. Ultimately it's the contractor's responsibility that things are done safely and to code.

Also most inspectors (and contractors) can tell within a few minutes of being on a job site whether the work is being done well or not. It sounds like you had everything neat, done well, etc... which makes it both easier to inspect and more likely to be correct.
Consider it a compliment that you did a good job!

And trust me, I've been in houses where it was obvious that permits weren't obtained... and it can be scary!
 
  #22  
Old 10-30-19, 11:06 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,092
Received 29 Votes on 23 Posts
But I digress, having an inspector review the work doesn't mean the work was performed accurately and is safe to use.
I have never seen an inspector use test equipment to do any testing when inspecting an installation. My experience is that most good inspectors will look at everything a little harder if a homeowner or even an electrician he doesn't recognize is doing a job, but will not look as close if a reputable contractor with a reputation for quality work has electricians on the job. There is a great deal of value in building a good reputation in the construction field.
 
  #23  
Old 10-30-19, 03:51 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 115
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The purpose of inspections is to help ensure the work is being done to code. No inspector is going to take the time to check every little part of the job. The expectation is that the contractor is going to follow code and the inspector is there to double-check that the contractor isn't trying to cut corners. Ultimately it's the contractor's responsibility that things are done safely and to code.
I understand that. I'm just miffed that it cost me $50 for such non-sense. I'd rather pay that money to a real electrician and have them review the entire project soup to nuts. That seems like a much more productive use of the money and my time.
 
  #24  
Old 10-30-19, 04:50 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 53,582
Received 416 Votes on 389 Posts
@ lambition...... your panel and pictures don't really belong in this thread but while I'm on the subject..... that is a main panel. It is wired correctly. The neutrals and grounds ARE connected together by design. Someone chose to put neutrals on one side and grounds on the other. They can both be on either side. I will agree that the neutral bonding screw is missing and needs to be installed.

I labeled your first picture.
 
  #25  
Old 10-30-19, 06:22 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,242
Received 18 Votes on 17 Posts
.. that is a main panel. It is wired correctly.
No. It is not the main panel.
It is not the panel design that determines if it is main panel, but how it is fed.
This is a sub panel in a apartment unit. There is a main breaker in the basement of the building.
Ground wire should been wired to a ground bus bar (sold separate), but the electrician says that is illegal. LOL


The reason I posted pictures were to show how many inspectors don't understand or don't care for the code.
 
  #26  
Old 10-30-19, 06:34 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 53,582
Received 416 Votes on 389 Posts
Then there should have been an additional ground bar. The two there are neutral only.
 
  #27  
Old 10-30-19, 07:21 PM
Member
Join Date: Nov 2015
Posts: 1,242
Received 18 Votes on 17 Posts
Then there should have been an additional ground bar. The two there are neutral only.
Exactly. Yet, the inspector was ok with this.
 
  #28  
Old 10-31-19, 03:36 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,092
Received 29 Votes on 23 Posts
This was done by a licensed electrician and I argued with him about the violations, but he was insisting everything is right.

I believe you have uncovered an issue in the licensing system in your state or municipality. I have never lived in a state where individual electricians are licensed and lean more towards licensing of contractors, by county or municipality, who oversee their electricians after a strict and thorough examination.
 
  #29  
Old 10-31-19, 05:50 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 12,973
Received 59 Votes on 52 Posts
My state Journeymen and Master electricians must have their respective licenses (Master or Journeymen). You must also have a contractor's license to do work for other people and that "shop" must have one Master which is known as the master of record.

So, as a licensed Journeyman I can only work for a licensed electrical contractor. Also for each Journeymen or Master on a job you can have no more than two unlicensed apprentices working under them. Apprentices also must be registered with the state.
 
  #30  
Old 11-02-19, 01:24 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 10,092
Received 29 Votes on 23 Posts
My state Journeymen and Master electricians must have their respective licenses (Master or Journeymen). You must also have a contractor's license to do work for other people and that "shop" must have one Master which is known as the master of record.

That's an interesting arrangement and one I might be in favor of as well. My only experience working with "so-called" licensed electricians in another state was nothing like that. My experience was that this other state had dumbed down the licensing requirements/testing so that just about anyone could pass their test to become a licensed electrician and then they could do work on their own after that. That essentially made them individual one-man contractors with no other insurance or bonding requirements that I am aware of.
 
  #31  
Old 11-02-19, 09:51 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,493
Received 33 Votes on 25 Posts
When my state first introduced legislation to license electricians they had a grace period where anyone could get a license by passing a test. The test was whether or not they could write a check for $25. and not have it bounce!

When I replaced the Service on my previous home, around 1977, I took the day off from my regular job to meet with the city electrical inspector. Around four in the afternoon I noticed a man looking at the overhead wiring and went out to see a car with the power company's logo on the door and I asked the man if he was also the city inspector. He replied, "No, he has already been here and called me telling me it was okay for use." I replied that if anyone else had been here I never saw them and the permit was not signed by anyone. The power guy said that wasn't unusual as all "they" (the city) wanted was the money from the permit.

The power company inspector wanted a "backstay" on the mast but was otherwise okay with what I had done. I went inside and told my wife who then told me I had to call the city inspector and get him to sign the permit. That's when my problems started.

I won't bore anyone with what happened other to say my new service was delayed several weeks and the stupid "inspector" never did sign the permit. I wonder if he even knew how to sign his name?

I had another job, this one in Seattle, where I had PVC conduit underground running to a gate with an electric opener. I transitioned to IMC (steel) conduit to come above ground and the inspector said that EMT was not listed for that purpose. I pointed out it was NOT EMT but IMC and he apologized for his mistake. A week later after the gate had been installed I noticed their people had installed EMT for the vehicle sensor and keypad controller. Was EMT okay because this was low-voltage wiring? Not in my opinion but then I'm just an idiot.
 
  #32  
Old 11-03-19, 05:30 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 12,973
Received 59 Votes on 52 Posts
I should have also mentioned that MN requires an apprentice to have 8000 hours of on the job work in order to take the journeyman test. (or 2 years of trade school and 6000 hours) Then a Journeyman must pass a master's test to get a Master's license.
 
  #33  
Old 11-03-19, 05:57 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 4,714
Received 29 Votes on 28 Posts
I've heard recommendations of contacting your mayor and town councilman to help improve the building department - either to get out bad inspectors or just improve it overall. Granted, I've never attempted, and your mileage may vary depending on your town/city size.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: