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  1. #1
    Bob Spermo's Avatar
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    Default Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I have some questions about AHJ inspectors and their expected performance level. Please do not consider this a condemnation of these inspectors! Many of them do a commendable job considering the time they are allotted. But I believe I have legitimate concerns.

    I recently met an AHJ electrical inspector at a new construction site where he was performing his final electrical inspection. The only thing he was carrying was a clipboard. Fifteen minutes later he was done with this write-up "Attic light needs a cage". This was the third of 18 inspections for the day! I then conducted my inspection for the builder. Here are a few of the things I found: bathroom GFCI receptacle circuit - 2 separate bathroom receptacles on it = OK but it was also connected to the family room bar receptacles and the media room receptacle. One receptacle within 3 feet of a sink that was not GFCI protected. When the builder pointed out my report to the electrician his answer was the "city passed it". My builder (a very reputable builder) then showed the electrician my report with the code cited - electrican fixed it!

    In another jurisdiction the winding stair was not even close to meeting code requirements - 2" at inner radius and 4" 12" from inner radius. I could list many more but I will not.

    While I understand that these inspectors have a lot to do they are certainly not giving the public a valid service. I have talked to some inspectors and they are certainly have alot of knowledge. Since these permits and inspections are required by the jurisdictions and are being paid for by the builder/owner shouldn't the service be of a higher quality? I don't think being overworked is a valid excuse. Can a builder/owner sue the jurisdiction over a faulty inspection (like we can be sued)?

    Isn't there a better way for the AHJs to conduct more extensive inspections? Doesn't the paying public deserve better? I think the public would be better served by allowing fee inspectors with the right qualifications to do the AHJ inspections. I plan on bringing my issues to the respective city departments.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Spermo View Post
    I have some questions about AHJ inspectors and their expected performance level. Please do not consider this a condemnation of these inspectors! Many of them do a commendable job considering the time they are allotted. But I believe I have legitimate concerns.

    I recently met an AHJ electrical inspector at a new construction site where he was performing his final electrical inspection. The only thing he was carrying was a clipboard. Fifteen minutes later he was done with this write-up "Attic light needs a cage". This was the third of 18 inspections for the day! I then conducted my inspection for the builder. Here are a few of the things I found: bathroom GFCI receptacle circuit - 2 separate bathroom receptacles on it = OK but it was also connected to the family room bar receptacles and the media room receptacle. One receptacle within 3 feet of a sink that was not GFCI protected. When the builder pointed out my report to the electrician his answer was the "city passed it". My builder (a very reputable builder) then showed the electrician my report with the code cited - electrican fixed it!

    In another jurisdiction the winding stair was not even close to meeting code requirements - 2" at inner radius and 4" 12" from inner radius. I could list many more but I will not.

    While I understand that these inspectors have a lot to do they are certainly not giving the public a valid service. I have talked to some inspectors and they are certainly have alot of knowledge. Since these permits and inspections are required by the jurisdictions and are being paid for by the builder/owner shouldn't the service be of a higher quality? I don't think being overworked is a valid excuse. Can a builder/owner sue the jurisdiction over a faulty inspection (like we can be sued)?

    Isn't there a better way for the AHJs to conduct more extensive inspections? Doesn't the paying public deserve better? I think the public would be better served by allowing fee inspectors with the right qualifications to do the AHJ inspections. I plan on bringing my issues to the respective city departments.
    Since there is not so much new home construction going up, I'm sure some are going to be looking out for more violations simply because they are not rushed so. Sure the public or home buyers deserved a great inspection. Is the AHJ going away and inspections going to be done by us fee inspectors? No, simply because the city collects some great fees by doing their job also.

    Rick


  3. #3
    Nolan Kienitz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Rick,

    Except for some cities have removed their 'code staff' and are contracting to 'code certified' independents. Cuts down on the cities overall budget/overhead.

    I think that Georgetown (near Austin, TX) is one community that has done so.

    I've heard that from several people, but have not confirmed myself directly.


  4. #4
    Richard Pultar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Attic light needs a cage what code reference can you use with this?
    Thats a very embarissing report of a local inspector .
    The permit fee is usually just another tax, and a way to add a yearly tax from any added ratable to the tax roles.
    As you see the quality of any job is a result of the concienousness of the worker. I guess almost all of any job is not inspected, the job supervisiion is what makes a good job.
    It makes me sad to think so many people that should csre about what they do care so little.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    You could be talking about here instead of Texas, it's pretty much the same deal. They don't have testers, screwdrivers, nothing.
    The public deserves better and should be getting better. Unfortunately the demand isn't high enough for the building depts to change.
    - developers don't want better inspections
    - the homeowner doing a rehab doesn't know what to expect
    - when something goes wrong, like a porch collapse, the spin machine kicks into gear to make it seem like an isolated incident. The media goes along with it and the problem fades into the background again.
    The inspectors are essentially immune from any real prosecution or consequences. It's a disgrace.
    There are many good muni inspectors but there are also quite a few who aren't qualified for that high paying job.
    If you are going to raise a stink about this, I would suggest:
    - don't own property in your name in that jurisdiction
    - don't plan on getting a permit for anything in your own name anytime soon.
    I speak from experience.
    I write stuff all the time the muni insp said nothing about. Clients are amazed, I'm disgusted.
    Good luck, watch your backside when stirring the hornets nest.

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  6. #6
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    How much are they going to pay ? Hard times some will work for
    $15per HR. Doing inspection for the city/county... I have work with them before cheap, they just don't want to pay...

    As for that one inspector if it was his first inspection of the day he may have been on the run to the bathroom that day
    Coffee was kicking in The next inspection he may have noted 20 items...

    Best

    Ron


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    BL insp 60k
    EL 70k
    PL 75k
    + INS pension paid time union etc pay increases

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  8. #8
    Rick Maday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    It basically comes down to the presiding "juristiction" not allowing proper time for inspections.

    Imagine if you were expected to do 10-15 inspections in an 8 hour day. With drive time that doesn't allow much for the actual inspections. There was a series of articles 12-18 months ago in one of the Chicago papers about how much these guys were expected to do in a limited amount of time.

    It comes down to the money. The juristictions could hire more inspectors to do proper inspections, but then they would need to increase the budget by 300-500%. Ain't gonna happen.


  9. #9
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Just think if every little thing had a permit on it. every bathroom floor, every water heater and so on. they would have no time to inspect it all. When i have got a permit for some little thing they just look at me like in some jerk...

    Best

    Ron

    Last edited by Ron Bibler; 01-02-2009 at 02:51 PM.

  10. #10
    JORY LANNES's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Ours is not to reason why. We all know what our SOP are. We have the opportunity more than ever to help and protect our client.


  11. #11
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    It is not there job to trace every wire to find out if other outlets are on batroom circuits. It is not there job to carry testers around with them. It is not there job to check for a GFCI breaker or another wet area GFCI protecting that outlet 3 ft from a sink.

    Fact is they are vague generalists and more of a generalist than a home inspector. When he walks up stairs and past all the ballasters he is not going to stick a ball thru to find out if every opening is exact.

    Honestly I believe that municipal building inspectors get to much of a wrap about being lazy and missing things. They are there to catch the obvious and some things not so obnvious. The job to do things right is initially the man doing the particular job, then to his boss and then to the builders super and on up the line. If a building inspector did any where near the extent of an inspection we did the cities and towns would need an army of inspectors to try to keep up. Now that will cost the property tax payers a grundle of money.

    Give the guys a break.


  12. #12
    Rick Maday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    It is not there job to trace every wire to find out if other outlets are on batroom circuits. It is not there job to carry testers around with them. It is not there job to check for a GFCI breaker or another wet area GFCI protecting that outlet 3 ft from a sink.

    Fact is they are vague generalists and more of a generalist than a home inspector. When he walks up stairs and past all the ballasters he is not going to stick a ball thru to find out if every opening is exact.

    Honestly I believe that municipal building inspectors get to much of a wrap about being lazy and missing things. They are there to catch the obvious and some things not so obnvious. The job to do things right is initially the man doing the particular job, then to his boss and then to the builders super and on up the line. If a building inspector did any where near the extent of an inspection we did the cities and towns would need an army of inspectors to try to keep up. Now that will cost the property tax payers a grundle of money.

    Give the guys a break.
    Their job is to ensure that the building meets code. If they don't sign off on it, no CO will be issued.

    The fact that (in Illinois) they have zero liability if they mess up makes the "inspection" a fomality (quick) and a way to colect $$ for the juristiction.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    You must be 'drinkin some good ****' down there in Texas Ted. "Give them a break"? NO
    I fully understand better than most that they are more 'generalist' than an HI. I don't expect them to do 'full' inspections. They should be looking for and writing code compliance. When they can't even do that then there is no reason to give them a break. They have failed the public trust. They neither deserve their high salaries nor sympathy.
    I admit a great portion of the blame rests with the administration, not necessarily with the guy on the street. Nonetheless, they should be held accountable. If the Admin got rid of the dead weight in the middle tiers, they could hire more inspectors and not have to raise taxes.

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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Municipal inspectors do not do hot checks or hot testing.

    They have already, at rough in, looked at the wiring inside the walls.

    The inspectors do not follow circuits out from panel to box to box to box to see what goes where. The plans examiner reviews the plans to make sure that what is supposed to be GFCI is, and what is not supposed to be on the bathroom circuits is not on the bathroom circuits.

    The electrical contractor is responsible for doing what is drawn on the plans.

    The inspections are simply "spot checks", that is all they are intended to be. At final inspection all the inspector needs is a clip board, no tools or equipment. If he wants something opened, the electrician either needs to walk with the inspector and open it, or (more likely) through past experience the electrician knows what the inspector may want to look into and will have all the covers removed prior to the inspection.

    The inspectors ARE doing their jobs, their jobs are not the same as those of the HI, so it is EXPECTED that the HI will find things wired incorrectly and not as shown on the plans - the inspector did not hot check the house, and, in fact, *usually their final inspection is done prior to* the house being given the okay for power. Not always, but usually.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Maday View Post
    Their job is to ensure that the building meets code.
    .

    I hate to burst everyones bubble on this, but ...

    ... the municipal inspectors job *IS NOT* to "ensure that the building meets code".

    Far from it.

    They are there only to make random spot checks and *NONE OF THOSE THINGS CHECKED* must not meet code (all things checked must meet code).

    They do not inspect everything, they cannot be expected to inspect everything.

    In fact, and this has been used as a precedent around the country, there was a court case in Miami-Dade County (Dade County at that time) back in 1978 (I think it was back then) where a townhouse development was designed inadequately, and, when that was discovered, the owners sued everyone involved, including the City of Hialeah Building Department.

    The Florida Supreme Court ruled that *IT WAS NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY* of the municipal inspection department to ensure that each and every part of each and every structure was code compliant, that such would be an unattainable and unrealistic expectation, that the building department and its inspectors where only there to check for code compliance such that the structure(s) being inspected did not negatively impact the surrounding area. That is the buyers wanted to ensure that the structure(s) met code, the buyers should hire a private engineering firm.

    That lead to the gold rush of engineering firms contracting with homeowners and condominium owners associations to inspect their buildings and then sue the developers/contractors for all of the defects found.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  16. #16
    Rick Maday's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    So, ECJ,

    They are checking for code, but not checking everything.

    Correct?


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I don't know about anyone else but I don't expect the muni insp to find everything wrong. That would be unreasonable. Just like it is unreasonable for clients to expect an HI to find things inside of walls. 'Sorry I forgot my X-ray vision glasses at home today Sir'.
    I understand that they don't test out things. Details like that, they generally aren't qualified or motivated for, regardless of trade.
    It would be 'pleasing in thought' if they could catch some of the little things. Like when standing in front of the panel involves standing on top of the sump pit; or the joists that have been hacked to pieces by the plumbers and electricians.
    Dinner, gotta go...

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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Maday View Post
    So, ECJ,

    They are checking for code, but not checking everything.

    Correct?
    .

    Correct.

    Not within reason to expect them to check everything, that is the contractor's responsibility.

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    We HIs should keep this thread in mind when we're advertising and promising our clients the world with their home inspection.

    Even the Florida supreme court doesn't think it's reasonable to expect EVERY defect in a house to be found. Be carful if you're promising to do that.


  20. #20
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I will chime in on this one since I wear both hats as a home inspector and code inspector.

    First and foremost, most inspectors today are expected to be multi-disciplined with several certifications. This in my opinion has watered down the expertise level. Some areas still separate inspector services but the new push is to have more versatility. This is a problem.

    Second is that during peak seasons, and in some areas year round, the inspectors are overworked and simply cannot spend enough time to do a proper inspection. The municipalities like to put money into their general fund rather than hire more inspectors. This is by no means acceptable but this is what happens. With the downturn in the market many builders and contractors in our area are complaining that the inspectors are getting nitpicky to justify their jobs. In reality, they now have more time to do their jobs and are therefore finding what they should have been finding all along.

    The next item is the expectation of a code inspector. It is the inspector’s duty to enforce the provisions of the codes adopted by his/her jurisdiction and or state. In no way are they to spot check and anyone who does will eventually find themselves in a lot of trouble. Time has to be taken to do plan review and inspect the systems as they are installed. There should be no shortcuts at all. The contractor is responsible for providing access to the jobsite and the inspector needs to come prepared with much more than a clipboard. You need a flashlight, screwdriver, thermometer and electrical testing device just to get started. This is expected of the code inspector.

    In our State, we get audited each year by the State Department of Labor & Industry who oversees the Uniform Construction Code. They randomly pull files and permits and do jobsite reviews including going back to commercial jobs that were already signed off with a C of O. If you missed something and they catch it, you will get a written deficiency.

    There is a problem with the systems in place and they are not perfect. Oversight of construction is crucial for the health and safety of the public.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Remas View Post
    The municipalities like to put money into their general fund rather than hire more inspectors. This is by no means acceptable but this is what happens.
    In Florida, the building department lives and dies on building permit fees. No money is allowed to go from permits to the general fund.

    The next item is the expectation of a code inspector. It is the inspector’s duty to enforce the provisions of the codes adopted by his/her jurisdiction and or state. In no way are they to spot check and anyone who does will eventually find themselves in a lot of trouble.
    By your own admission, much of the year inspectors do not have time to spend on each site for each inspection, and in the slower times the inspectors have more time, still not enough time to check everything.

    If that is not "spot checking", what do you call it?

    If it is not "spot checking", then the inspector would be on site *AS LONG AS NEEDED* to *CHECK EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING*, not only is that not practical, it is unreasonable to expect.

    I will chime in on this one since I wear both hats as a home inspector and code inspector.
    As do I at times. And as a few others here do also.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I know they can't be inspected to catch everything, no more than we can, but you'd sure expect them to catch the obvious things.

    Ya know, like putting a cap on the sewer cleanout.


    Or the cut joist under the bathtub / shower wall.



    I kind of feel for the pressures they operate under. Catch too much stuff, the builder complains to the mayor and they lose their job. Don't catch enough stuff and the owner complains, again they're out of a job. And in most places, it doesn't pay nearly enough.

    I don't fuss too much about it though. I make a living because of it.

    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
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  23. #23
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .

    I hate to burst everyones bubble on this, but ...

    ... the municipal inspectors job *IS NOT* to "ensure that the building meets code".

    Far from it.
    JP: Since I'm not the Flahdah Supreme Court, I would'nt know about their ruminations. I do know what the code itself says:

    R104.1 General.
    The building official is hereby authorized
    and directed to enforce the provisions of this code.

    How do you square that with your statements. Be careful here JP.

    Aaron




  24. #24
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    In my area I see a lot of stuff missed or let slide... the important stuff seems to get a bit more focus and is done more often. I define 'important' stuff as fire, life & safety issues. So, electrical, egress, hvac, smoke alarms.... stuff like that.

    I know the case can be made that every code is for safety but there are some that are more immediate than others. I often tell people it's a drag to get water in your crawl space (grading and drainage is probably the most often missed item in my area) but it's really a drag if you get electrocuted or die of CO poisoning.

    It's obvious the AHJ are operating on limited time for whatever reason. I would hope they prioritize their time on site. The lack of GFI protection the OP mentions is pretty glarring IMO.


  25. #25
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Nolan Kienitz View Post
    Rick,

    Except for some cities have removed their 'code staff' and are contracting to 'code certified' independents. Cuts down on the cities overall budget/overhead.

    I think that Georgetown (near Austin, TX) is one community that has done so.

    I've heard that from several people, but have not confirmed myself directly.
    Nolan:

    A large number of cities in North Central Texas have hired third-party building inspection oversight. This has taken a bad situation and made it even worse.

    Try juxtaposing the job that gets done, in my opinion, in Fort Worthless by the independent contractor there with the job accomplished by Frisco's in-house department. There is simply no comparison. Frisco is hands down suprerior in all aspects.

    Even tiny Prosper has a more knowledgeable AHJ than the unmentionables at some of the large independent firms. I won't divulge any names, for reasons of liability. You can look them up for yourself.

    I would begin looking under Bureau Veritas (literally the office of truth - yeah, right), Metrocode, et al. I'm not singling these two out, just suggesting that you start your search with them.

    Now the two aforementioned firms are likely 100% above-board, hyper-effective, overqualified and the best that a city's money can buy.

    I have heard rumors though, and they may not be true, and it may just be me, but past commissioners of the TRCC and civil engineers living in the pockets of the municipalities and builders who work in them would not be my first choice of someone to oversee the construction of my home.

    Maybe I'm not being realistic.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    The basic problem is that most folks believe that when a home receives a “final” from the local AHJ that it’s a safe home. This is not always the case and therefore why it makes sense that every home buyer should retain a competent private sector real estate inspector to check their purchase. Unfortunately there are far too many people who claim to be competent inspectors when they’re not in both the jurisdictional and private sector. This makes it very tough for buyers to sort out who is competent and who is not, especially when there’s a bottom feeding real estate agent involved who invariable recommends “inspector light.”

    Please note I use the term “Real Estate Inspector.” When are we going to get rid of the title “home inspector?” Gosh, don’t most also do some light commercial and industrial inspections?


    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    I do know what the code itself says:


    R104.1 General.
    The building official is hereby authorized
    and directed to enforce the provisions of this code.

    How do you square that with your statements. Be careful here JP.

    Aaron


    Aaron,

    They DO "enforce the code". When they find something "not in compliance with the code" they do not pass the inspection.

    That is "enforcing the code".

    That square pretty dang well with what I am saying.


    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Please note I use the term “Real Estate Inspector.” When are we going to get rid of the title “home inspector?” Gosh, don’t most also do some light commercial and industrial inspections?
    .

    Actually, the term is "private building inspector" as few of us are out there inspecting "real estate" (the land on which "the improvements" sits on).

    "The improvements" are the structures and buildings, with a defined difference between the two terms.

    (underlining is mine)
    From the IRC.

    - BUILDING.
    Building shall mean any one- and two-family dwelling or portion thereof, including townhouses, that is used, or designed or intended to be used for human habitation, for living, sleeping, cooking or eating purposes, or any combination thereof, and shall include accessory structures thereto.

    - STRUCTURE. That which is built or constructed.

    From the IBC.
    - BUILDING.


    Any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy.


    - STRUCTURE. That which is built or constructed.

    By and large, we are "building" inspectors, not "structure" inspectors.


    That is why I always used the term "Private Building Inspector" when I was inspecting.



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  29. #29
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    All of us as home inspectors should be thankful of the fact that the code enforcement industry in many areas is not perfect therefore allowing us the opportunity to do private inspections.

    If it was perfect then there would be no need for you now would there?

    At the same time, any of us can go in behind any one of us and find things that were missed so don't throw rocks from your glass house.

    Look at this in a positive way and it is one more selling point on the phone with a potential client who is having a home built.


  30. #30
    JORY LANNES's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I am thrilled about this thread. This subject supports are value as advocates for the home buyer.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Aaron,

    They DO "enforce the code". When they find something "not in compliance with the code" they do not pass the inspection.

    That is "enforcing the code".

    That square pretty dang well with what I am saying.
    [/left]
    JP: I think not.

    They cannot find that something that is not in compliance with the code if they are not effectively looking for it.

    Listen JP, I intimately understand the problem. In the real world the municipality responsible for appointing the building official, who in turn is responsible for the operation of the building inspection department, is supported by taxes which are paid by taxpayers who do not wish to be spending any more than is absolutely necessary. To further exacerbate the issue, all of these tax-paying citizens are already ensconced in their own homes. They are not overly concerned with how newer ones get built, at least until they are in the market for one.

    So then, with a minimal budget, the building official sets out to catch as many code violations as possible given the fiscal restraints. I got that. But then, that is not the point of this conversation. The point is that the law, in the form of the building code and amendments adopted by the municipality, is not really being completely enforced. Due to a lack of funds the codes are merely being selectively enforced.

    Your contention that the AHJ, be that the town, the building official, or what/whomever you will admit to as constituting the AHJ, is not responsible for enforcing the letter of the law is just so much blarney emitted from a gobshite. An insufficient budget does not obviate the officials' responsibility to enforce the code as written. It may give you personally a reason to both empathize with and somehow side with the official who does not comply with his responsibilities, but it does not change the fact that he is being derelict in the performance of his duties.

    It is true that we live in the real, and not the ideal world. That said, the code lives in the ideal and not the real. If it weren't so, we would not need a code. It would be a roll-your-own situation where chaos would reign supreme.

    Aaron


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Hmmm


    Obviate???

    The code lives in the real world!!!!! Not in the ideal world!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As far as any inspector (city) looking at every stud, every wire, every nail, every wire, every staple holding every wire etc. etc. is not the real world and should not be expected. People doing their menial tasks everyday are responsible for their menial tasks. The inspector (city) is their to do a walk thru in a reasonable amount of time and catch as many concerns as he can in that reasonable walk around. He is not, will not and can not be expected to catch every item in every home.

    There is another whole set of plan reviewers, paper shufflers and such that do the reviews as well.

    I have read about every inspectors website that I come across and everyone has the same idea of themselves. They truly put forth and probably believe that they are the best thing since home inspection started.

    Fact is the comments on websites about finding x amount of items no matter who inspected before him is pretty bogus considering the same can be done to them.

    As far as the perfect city official or perfect home inspector, there isn't one. Are city inspectors code officials and inspecting the buildings to the adopted codes for their areas. Yes. Is it their job to pull out testers of all sorts, follow every wire to see what outlet is connected to what outlet. No.

    I do not believe I have ever seen a city inspector climb up into the attic during the rough framing inspection. Should he have to ? Well that is another discussion. He can see most of the framing from the floor he is standing on. He may have a flashlight to help him out. Does he carry a ladder around with him. Not. Should he have to. No.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Aaron, your last post makes some great points. Very well said.

    In addition, we cannot generalize code inspectors as we are often generalized ourselves. Here is an example.

    Whenever I do a new construction final as a HI I always find defect that were not discovered by the code inspector(s). However, there are 2 code inspectors in my area that came in the same time that I did or right after the same day and when we compared notes, they had more on their list than I did. Usually 1-2 nitpicky items that I missed. These guys are on the ball.

    I am surprised when this happens but it helps to humble me each time. We all need to eat some humble pie every now and then. I have a big reputation as being too nitpicky as a HI and as a code inspector but still will miss small items every now and then. We all do.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Aaron,

    They DO "enforce the code". When they find something "not in compliance with the code" they do not pass the inspection.

    That is "enforcing the code".

    That square pretty dang well with what I am saying.
    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: I think not.

    They cannot find that something that is not in compliance with the code if they are not effectively looking for it.
    They are looking for "it". And, when they find "it", they write "it" up.

    So then, with a minimal budget, the building official sets out to catch as many code violations as possible given the fiscal restraints. I got that. But then, that is not the point of this conversation. The point is that the law, in the form of the building code and amendments adopted by the municipality, is not really being completely enforced.
    No, you do not get it.

    They (the code inspectors) "are" enforcing "the code".

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    The code lives in the real world!!!!! Not in the ideal world!!!!!!!!!!!!

    As far as any inspector (city) looking at every stud, every wire, every nail, every wire, every staple holding every wire etc. etc. is not the real world and should not be expected.
    Correct.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Like most corporations the ultimate attitude and competence of local building departments begins at the top and works down. The primary decision of selecting the local building official is usually made by the city manager. I’ve sat on a number of jurisdictional oral boards helping to select new hires including building officials and ran educational venues for building departments as part of the continuing education programs. Selecting new inspectors is not an easy task because everything is not always as it appears and I’ve been fooled in the past. Getting rid of city workers who later reveal they’re a bad fit after they have been vested is not so easy.

    Almost every department reflects the ability of the department head, which is usually the building official (BO) but sometimes it’s the chief inspector and the BO is mainly a figure head. It’s also a fact of life that most fire chiefs and/or fire marshals believe they should be running the building department and in some cases do. Most building officials are looking for people who not only are building code wise with some experience, but more importantly they want them to be team players.

    Folks who man the front counter at city hall actually issue the building permits (BPs) and are usually the first city employee folks deal with. Smaller jurisdictions used to have their inspectors man these stations, but now most jurisdictions employ specialists called “Counter Techs” and they have a special certification for them. I have worked the front counter at city hall, plan checked and accompanied local building inspectors on their rounds evaluating their work for the local BO so I’ve had an up close and personal view of the inner workings of a number of building departments. Most jurisdictions are solely supported by the permit fees they collect for issuing permits and the money they collect doesn’t usually go into the general fund. Therefore the local taxpayers don’t support the local building department, but rather it supports itself.

    It has been my experience that most building departments reflect the attitude and ability of the building official or in some cases the chief inspector wherein the BO is more of a figurehead. Don’t think for a second that politics doesn’t influence city hall workers and at times it can get downright ugly. The biggest mistake I’ve seen is the lack of quality continuing education that is usually mandated for each building department’s inspectors and their staffs and personally I know several local jurisdictions that are not up with the new California building codes. This is not a good thing and is partially the reason for incompetent inspections besides the T.O.T. allowed at each stop. I could wax on, but I’ve been on top of my soapbox long enough.


    BTW, for my e.c. namesake the legal definition of Real Estate:
    Land and the property permanently attached to it, such as buildings, houses, stationary mobile homes, fences and trees. In legalese, real estate is also called real property.


    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    JM: Good post.

    JP: As you know, I love to argue at least as much as you do, appreciate your verve, but completely disagree with you concerning this matter. It might have something to do with your current position in the industry.

    Besides, anyone who would own a Jaguar is certainly someone who is apt to overlook the flaws in a system to the point that they become invisible (sacrifice function for form) thereby necessitating the construction of an unreal belief system in order to deal with the juxtaposition of the real world (whenever it rears its ugly head) with the dream world in which they live. But both the car in this case and the system in question are flawed. And no, that was not meant as an ad hominem argument tactic, merely an observation of the facts in evidence.

    Ted: Which Foat Woath builder do you work for?

    Aaron


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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: As you know, I love to argue at least as much as you do, appreciate your verve, but completely disagree with you concerning this matter.
    .

    I understand you disagree, I am simply pointing out the incorrectness of your argument.

    To enforce the rules and maintain order in schools (the old fashioned way) did not require the principal having to go out and search out every single wrong. No, all that had to be done was to correct those which were found, typically using a board, without or without holes drilled through it, on the seats of the offending parties, who then spread the word that the rules were, indeed, "being enforced".

    Enforcing the law is the same way, on a grander scale.

    Enforcing the building code is the same, as its own scale.

    Many years ago when I worked in defense plant where we manufacturer electron tubes used mainly for radar purposes. I worked in Quality Control Test first, helped out in R&D and Environmental Test, then in the Standards Laboratory. In QA Test we ran *EACH* tube through *ALL* required parameters. In Environmental Test we selected samples and put them through all of the environments they were required to perform in, testing prior to, and after, stressing the tubes to their required limits.

    BOTH QA Test and Environmental Test "enforced" that the factory production tubes met all of the requirements. One was checking every single aspect of every single piece, the other was only "spot checking" selected pieces.

    One does not have to check every screw in every stud, the gage of every stud (metal framing) nor measure the size of every stud (wood framing and metal framing), nor measure the sizes/lengths (penny) of each and every nail to "enforce" the requirements placed upon them, i.e., "to enforce the code".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Besides, anyone who would own a Jaguar is certainly someone who is apt to overlook the flaws in a system to the point that they become invisible (sacrifice function for form) thereby necessitating the construction of an unreal belief system in order to deal with the juxtaposition of the real world (whenever it rears its ugly head) with the dream world in which they live.
    .

    Same applies to my wife's Chevy Malibu, our daughter's Chevy van (the one I used to own and drive), the Ford F-350 we had, etc., - that applies to any and all cars and trucks made.

    One learns to "live with" what they find acceptable.

    I've owned many cars and trucks, and NONE has failed to provide me with things which I "learned to live with".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  39. #39
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JM: Good post.


    Ted: Which Foat Woath builder do you work for?

    Aaron
    Well, first off I work for no one but myself. the man holding the pen to write the check is noy my boss. I perform my funtion to the best of my ability. Just because someone writes me a check it does not mean I work for them. If I inspected a home for free or a thousand dollars or just because someone let me go into a vacant home just to inspect it for no other reason than to inspect it I would perform my tasks the same and write the same words in my report. This whole thing about protecting the clients is pretty much mute. I am looking for concerns in the home and write those concerns in my report. If someone fixes/repairs/evaluates after me is of no concern. I certainly hope that these concerns that may be harmful to the future or present occupants are repaired but do not live to see the day that they all are. Once I inform it is up to the future or present occupants to do as they wish. That is not my concern once my inspection and report ends. I perform a service for them. As far as what I am writing in regards to this thread, I tell my clients the same thing. As someone else said on this thread the situation of awful subs under many different contractors on the same jobsite and the Building inspectors (city) doing what they can in the time alloted, I keep busy.

    I certainly do not have any dog in this fight. I do have strong beliefs. To actually even concider that any city building inspector do anywhere near the inspection on a new home as I do is insane. It will not happen. As I stated earlier everyone can find something behind anyone else. Someone also mentioned the city folk have drawn up their list in some cases and there are minor items on it that I did not find. I also find items that they do not find.

    In general, the vast populas of new home purchasers are living relatively concern free and dry and warm and draft and safety free.

    I for one do not pull the new oven out from its cabinet to see if the exact installation was done per manufacturers instructions.

    As bad as most on this site think the safety of vast amount of new home buyers is, most are sitting pretty and trouble free. To tink that every home is some kind of death trap is nuts. To think that a couple of rafter ends only has three nails in it instead of the minimum called for is going to bring the home crashing down is nuts.


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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    A few years ago there was a catastrophic building failure here in which a whole bunch of people died. The muni insp had just been there not long ago and signed off on things being OK.
    The story goes that in his personnel hearing he claimed, it wasn't his fault, he wasn't qualified to do that type of insp because the City hadn't trained him properly to do so.
    He was promoted to Supervisor not too long later.
    Rumor on the street was, that was his payoff for not talking to the media about all the Dept deficiencies. As he likely would have if fired and crucified.
    When public servants violate or fail the public trust, they MUST be held to a higher standard. They work of us.
    By the people, for the people.
    As a sidenote I neither knew any of those who died, nor am I exposing some big dark secret. Fairly common knowledge around here.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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  41. #41
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .

    I understand you disagree, I am simply pointing out the incorrectness of your argument.

    To enforce the rules and maintain order in schools (the old fashioned way) did not require the principal having to go out and search out every single wrong. No, all that had to be done was to correct those which were found, typically using a board, without or without holes drilled through it, on the seats of the offending parties, who then spread the word that the rules were, indeed, "being enforced".

    Enforcing the law is the same way, on a grander scale.

    Enforcing the building code is the same, as its own scale.

    Many years ago when I worked in defense plant where we manufacturer electron tubes used mainly for radar purposes. I worked in Quality Control Test first, helped out in R&D and Environmental Test, then in the Standards Laboratory. In QA Test we ran *EACH* tube through *ALL* required parameters. In Environmental Test we selected samples and put them through all of the environments they were required to perform in, testing prior to, and after, stressing the tubes to their required limits.

    BOTH QA Test and Environmental Test "enforced" that the factory production tubes met all of the requirements. One was checking every single aspect of every single piece, the other was only "spot checking" selected pieces.

    One does not have to check every screw in every stud, the gage of every stud (metal framing) nor measure the size of every stud (wood framing and metal framing), nor measure the sizes/lengths (penny) of each and every nail to "enforce" the requirements placed upon them, i.e., "to enforce the code".
    JP:

    Once upon a time, in the not too far distant past, most of the nation's construction was regulated using a performance code. This type of code assumes many things not in evidence in this day and time. (1) That the buildings regulated are designed by knowledgeable entities with the intent to produce safe and durable structures, (2) That the persons overseeing the construction were also knowledgeable and well intentioned (this includes both the contractor supervision and the AHJ personnel), and (3)That the workers responsible for the actual construction were actually skilled. Throw into the mix the wildly exotic idea that most of the people listed above spoke the same language, so that some semblance of communication was taking place.

    Nowadays we have a prescriptive code because most, if not all, of the aforementioned people do not work in the US construction industry, at least not in the residential end of it, at least not in North Central Texas. The ones that do likely do not speak the same language. The intent of this present code, in my opinion, is to herd this pace [sic] of jackasses in the general direction of constructing safe and durable buildings.

    If you've little or no experience with the common jackass it may have escaped your attention that they are relatively uncooperative, and incommunicado. Though possessing a modicum of intelligence they are best suited as beasts of burden. They work best with close and constant oversight.

    So then, in order to get the message out about how we are to build this and that to these creatures, we must be rather specific. The more specific the instructions, the more terrific the results. If this sounds like micromanagement, then so be it.

    You simply cannot compare the manufacturing of widgets under factory conditions to the flying monkey circus that comprises the on-site construction of residential buildings by a cast of hundreds who are marginally skilled, poorly supervised and often unable to communicate with others in the process using a common language. Like comparing apples and antennas.

    The closer scrutiny under which the home building process comes, the better the end results. This you simply cannot deny.

    Aaron


  42. #42
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Ours is not to reason why. We all know what our SOP are. We have the opportunity more than ever to help and protect our client.


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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Aaron,

    Notwithstanding your long prose ... you post included nothing of substance relative to what we were discussing.

    AHJ *do* "enforce the code" by making their inspections.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  44. #44
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Aaron,

    Notwithstanding your long prose ... you post included nothing of substance relative to what we were discussing.

    AHJ *do* "enforce the code" by making their inspections.
    JP: Stubborn, huh?

    "Enforce", in this sense of the word, means to carry out effectively. "Effectively", in this context means in an effective manner. "Effective", in this arena means producing the desired result. Are we agreed on the terms? Ala Webster's?

    Fine. So then, I take the term enforce, in the context of enforcing a law such as the building code, to mean insuring that the letter of the law (code) is met. So, for one isolated example, if we say that the roofing on a building is to be installed according to the manufacturer's installation instructions, then I full expect the AHJ to see that it is done thusly.

    If the code specifies brick wall tie spacing at this or that, I expect the AHJ to insure that the spacing is compliant. Etc. ad infinitum.

    How he does this within the constrictions of his budget is not my concern. That is not my concern. And it should not be yours either.

    Why is this a difficult concept for you to incorporate?

    Aaron


  45. #45
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I am one of those AHJ's. I feel I perform a pretty good inspection. Do I miss things...yep! Do HI's miss things...yep! Do I miss anything that is something as crazy as some of the pictures posted. I hope not..but I can't guarantee that I haven't. I really don't think I have being that my background is in framing. I really look at the framing really hard (along with everything els as time allows).

    A lot of posts from HI's speak of all the things that the AHJ missed. Food for thought here. I wonder how many items that the AHJ found deficient and had the violations corrected? You don't find those.......why? Duh! All you here about from HI's is everything that was missed by the AHJ.

    I think it's a power trip between AHJ's and HI's about who is the dumbest, no good for nothing, can't find his ass with both hands type of thing.

    EDIT....I use electrical tester to verify GFCI circuits. I also require the GFCI to be labled as such. I carry a flashlight for the dark areas. We also require the power to be on before we do a final. We do an electrical temp final to make sure the structure is safe (no exposed wires, everything as if it were "hot"!) How else can you verify the wiring is correctly wired...as far as one can tell!

    These two professions are totally different but alike in so many ways. AHJ's can only inspect to whatever code was/is in affect at the time of construction while a HI states that it is not in compliance with current standards. Both are correct but it leaves the home owner with a feeling that the AHJ has not inspected the structure properly. For instance a structure was built in 2000 when the AHJ's codes adopted were the 1997 codes. The structure complies with that code but when the HI performs his inspection in 2008, there are several discrepancies because it is not in compliance with "current standards". Lot's of difference between those years as far as code.

    A question here for the HI's. How many items do you think an inspector could come up with a few years from now about your past inspection? I bet there would be several "not to current standards!" I bet you could write yourself up if you were to go back in a few years on the same structure.

    Again, the pictures posted.....unforgivable! Shouldn't have ever been missed. Then again....was it that way before the inspection was made or did it happen after the inspector left?

    Oh yeah...the phrase..."They work for us. By the people, for the people."
    When someone else me this I'll throw a nichol on the counter and tell them "Here! Now I've paid you back for my part of my salary that you've paid!"



    Last edited by Wayne Carlisle; 01-05-2009 at 01:26 PM.

  46. #46
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    I believe that most all building inspectors either private or jurisdictional with any longevity in the inspection profession would agree that as construction technology has increased craftsmanship has gone proportionally in the opposite direction. Blaming Hispanic workers as the chief culprits for the demise of craftsmanship is not only pure bat guano, but highly disrespectful of an entire ethnic group. If there is someone to blame for the lack of competently trained construction workers I would look at the developers who have become the ultimate “bean-counters” coupled with the demise of the construction unions which provided most of the apprenticeship training programs.

    As far as Building Departments in general regardless of location the ultimate book on that subject is Robert E. O’Bannon’s “Building Department Administration,” which is still the classic “how-to” book on organizing and operating a successful building department. Here’s my favorite excerpt:
    The primary intent of building regulations is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use of occupancy of buildings, and all of their various components. Thus such codes are minimum in nature, and under the provisions of the “police power” cannot legally be made to require construction of a quality excessive of that which is necessary to furnish a reasonable degree of safety. Attempts to impose construction requirements that might exceed those minimums in all probability would not be upheld in a court of law... (the word minimum should not be misconstrued as inferior or shoddy work.)
    Codes must be based on what is generally accepted as good standards of construction. Only those provisions which a reasonable, practical, or necessary can be legally enforced. Codes containing requirements or specifications which, through analysis, can be proved to be excessive of minimum requirements are of questionable legal validity in our contemporary society.
    Properly written codes contain provisions requiring that buildings and structures be erected, utilized and maintained in a manner which reduces the risk of human life and safety to an acceptable minimum. The codes should also make provisions for the disposition of dilapidated or dangerous buildings.

    From “Building Department Administration” by Robert E. O’Bannon - 1989


    PS: for Wayne: I'm the last guy around to trash jurisdictional inspectors, (my grandson is a county building inspector in southern California) but we should all remember one vital ingredient when comparing jurisdictional inspectors with private inspectors. Private inspectors can and will be held legally liable for any defect they may miss during their inspection and issued reports.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    JP: Stubborn, huh?
    .

    Seems to be a trait we share ...

    "Enforce", in this sense of the word, means to carry out effectively. "Effectively", in this context means in an effective manner. "Effective", in this arena means producing the desired result. Are we agreed on the terms? Ala Webster's?
    .

    Seems that they are pretty effective when HIs and other find AS FEW DEFICIENCIES AS THEY FIND, considering the thousands and thousands and thousands of items in each house.

    Let's say there are 100,000++ items in a house (counting each nail, etc., there are likely double that).

    Let's say the typical home inspector finds 100 code items (I doubt the typical HI finds even have that many).

    That means the AHJ was 99% effective.

    In reality, the code inspectors are probably only ... say ... 80% effective. That is still pretty effective, not only is it well above the half majority mark, that is also well above the 66-2/3% super-majority mark, heck, it is even well above the 3/4 majority mark of doing a good job in a limited amount of time.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Jerry M..agree on the liability. I guees the reasoning behind that is the judges know that AHJ's cannot be held responsible for having their head up their wazzuu!

    There are several on this site that have worked for both sides and understand the delima we face. I appreciate those that show a little compassion for us AHJ's We can't help being the red headed step child!


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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Think about the traffic laws, not a direct correlation, but close enough:
    Is the cop on the street responsible for enforcing the law... Yes, that is his purpose. Is he going to catch every violation, no way. He is out there to deter law breakers and go after the really bad guys. There is a balance in every city between expenditures and results. The only difference is people scream when the crime rate gets to high but no one really notices building code violations until there is a catastrophe.

    Only problem with this conversation that I can see is that Jerry and Aaron are saying much the same thing but both are too stubborn to admit it!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Well isn't it nice to see someone reinforcing the stereotypes of government employee's. With the 'nickel' comment Wayne clearly has shown the typical ungrateful, self-righteous attitude common among government hacks against the very people who pay their salaries, pension, ins, etc.
    I wonder, does your contempt for the public allow you to rationalize demanding payoffs from people, as is so common among your brethren?
    Maybe I'm a little jaded since I've spent so much time defending people against out of control muni insp's.
    I'm the last guy to talk smack about any inspector possibly 'missing' something months or years ago. That's BS for BS'ers. The inspection is a snapshot in time. 2 months later you don't know if something was present or not, or broken way back when the 1st guy was there.
    The big items are another story. This thread reminded me of an insp a couple years ago.
    Condo insp, beautiful new 3 story rear wood porch, clean cuts, nice lap joints, nice stairs, great job.
    I defected the entire porch, wrote it as D&H and called the City
    The developer and realtor wanted my head on a platter.
    The muni insp had just signed off on it.
    All the joist hangers were installed with drywall screws.
    There are lots of great muni insp's I know many of them. The bad ones well ... they don't deserve their jobs.

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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    we should all remember one vital ingredient when comparing jurisdictional inspectors with private inspectors. Private inspectors can and will be held legally liable for any defect they may miss during their inspection and issued reports.
    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Jerry M..agree on the liability. I guees the reasoning behind that is the judges know that AHJ's cannot be held responsible for having their head up their wazzuu!
    .

    Actually, municipal inspectors can also be held up for being sued personally and be forced to take personal liability. While it is rarely done, *IF* the inspector ventures outside their authority (say a plumbing inspector signs off on electrical to help his buddy out) or goes against the code (a flagrant violation is knowingly passed), then the municipal inspector was "acting outside the bounds of his jurisdiction" and can be held personally liable for such actions and the results of such actions, and the local government *does not* need to provide the defense attorney, the defense attorney is on the inspectors dime.

    Stay within your stated job description and you are defended by the municipality as part of their inherent sovereign immunity, step outside it and you could end up having to defend yourself. That is one of the reasons the inspectors stay well within their job description bounds - we, the public, through our attorneys, bring it upon ourselves to a large extent.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  52. #52
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    I can see is that Jerry and Aaron are saying much the same thing but both are too stubborn to admit it!
    Jim: "Much" being the key term here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    .That means the AHJ was 99% effective.
    In reality, the code inspectors are probably only ... say ... 80% effective. That is still pretty effective, not only is it well above the half majority mark, that is also well above the 66-2/3% super-majority mark, heck, it is even well above the 3/4 majority mark of doing a good job in a limited amount of time.
    JP: Math may not be your forte.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    . Actually, municipal inspectors can also be held up for being sued personally and be forced to take personal liability.
    JP: True. And the municipality itself can be sued as well under the right circumstances. Though they have done a pretty good job, at least in Texas, of insulating the AHJ, nobody is immune from demand letters and all that follows. It should be this way too. Otherwise the mantra of the municipal inspector would simply be, " . . . but I was just following orders". Actually, I have heard that on hundreds of occasions.

    Aaron


  53. #53
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Well isn't it nice to see someone reinforcing the stereotypes of government employee's. With the 'nickel' comment Wayne clearly has shown the typical ungrateful, self-righteous attitude common among government hacks against the very people who pay their salaries, pension, ins, etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    I wonder, does your contempt for the public allow you to rationalize demanding payoffs from people, as is so common among your brethren?
    Maybe I'm a little jaded since I've spent so much time defending people against out of control muni insp's.

    The developer and realtor wanted my head on a platter.


    Marcus the part underlined is why I say this. Just because a person pays a very small portion of my salary does not allow them to treat me any way they want! I do my job, I am here to help anyone who comes in and acts civilized. In fact I've been accused of going a little too far! I've actually gone out to a sites and worked with a citizens so they could get their project off the ground. But when people start getting in my face throwing out comments like the above, telling me that they are going to "have my job" just because they don't like the way something turned out.... I'm not going to sit back and allow them to bash me or my department.

    Payoffs.......there's not enough money in the world to pay me off, just like the majority of government employees. You only here about the bad apples, never of the good things accomplished. I am very devoted to my job and would not put anybodies life in jeopardy! I lose no sleep at night.

    I apologize if that is the way it sounded...when reading back it does...but I am definitely not that way....unless someone makes me. But it takes one of "those" that think they own me just because they pay taxes.....I'm not for sale nor does anyone own me.

    The majority of inspectors are true blue and are devoted to their profession just like you (hopefully). AHJ inspectors cannot refuse to go to an inspection knowing that the person there is not one of the better people you deal with. If a HI has one of those....you just say "Sorry...can't help you out!"

    Jerry, Yep you are correct, but it takes a really flagrant act to get in that situation. Or should I say a really stupid act! And if they do something like that...they deserve to get busted!

    One of the things that I couldn't understand happened a few years ago. My sister-in-law and her husband were building a house within my jurisdiction and the city wouldn't allow me to inspect it. The citizens found out that one of my family members was building a home and complained to the city manager. The "concerned citizen" thought I would allow contractors to cut corners. Give me a break!


  54. #54
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Wayne:

    With all due respect, you must live in a part of Texas that is very remote. You almost certainly do not reside and work in North Central Texas. And, if you do, you are being prescribed better drugs than I am.

    But, for the sake of a gentlemanly discussion, let's say that you are correct. The vast overwhelming majority of municipal inspectors are honest, diligent, observant, perspicacious and above reproach. They are still cogs in a system that is not so oriented.

    In most municipalities in which I operate the BO is an appointed political position. This guy works together with the city attorney to identify and adopt the codes to be enforced. Though these two answer to the city council, councils do not usually consist of construction-savvy folks, so they pretty much don't have any oversight. OK, there is the required construction appeals board - but even it is overseen by both of these culprits.

    Now you have a municipality that wishes to attract developers and builders so that they can increase their tax base. You cannot be too hard on these guys or they will build elsewhere. So, you cut whatever deals you need to in order to get their cooperation. You certainly do not stick out your chest and tell them that you intend to adopt the latest and greatest code cycle and your people will enforce it to the letter - or else.

    Now comes the great compromise. It does not appear like you are doing anything wrong, you just don't have the manpower to inspect each and every item the way that it should be inspected. It's not a limitation of your design, you're just saddled with it. You do the best you can.

    The fu@&ing Republicans deep-six the economy so that your minimal staff is cut even more and can inspect even less. You send your guys out on an eight-hour day (less lunch) with 20-30 stops to make. Not much gets inspected, but what does get looked at is done properly.

    Not long afterward the same Republicans finally drag it all down to a depression any your budget is cut yet again. The council decides that they will take bids from the private sector inspection firms who claim they can do it faster, better, cheaper. They are not lying about the faster and cheaper part. Lowest bidder wins.

    The problem is, of course, that I have not experienced the majority of the AHJs to be overly competent. We all know, your denial notwithstanding, that there is much graft afoot in any given municipal government. Inspection departments are no exception. The news is replete with stories daily. And these are just the ones who get caught.

    I assume from your writing that you are an exception. That's great and my hat is off to you. But, your individual integrity does not necessarily bleed over into the majority of your peers Let me assure you that this is not the case. Not where I live and work. No way.

    Yes, I think there are some stellar players who stand out even given the circumstances under which they must work. There just are not many of them. If you are one of those, keep up the good work, just don't attempt to BS me about your industry. It needs a LOT of work.

    Aaron


  55. #55
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Carlisle View Post
    Payoffs.......there's not enough money in the world to pay me off,
    .

    Wait a minute ... you want to pay me "all the money in the world" to pass your inspection ... ?

    Ummmm ... "all the money in the world" sure is a lot of money ... that, of course, also includes all of Warren Buffet's money too, as well as Bill Gates money, and all of ... right?

    What was it you said you wanted?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  56. #56
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Wayne, I am glad to hear that you are a dedicated public servant (no slam intended). You sound like you are committed to your work and not just another hack. I apologize if I read too much into your statement based on my local experience.
    Hypothetically ... in a Galaxy far far away, years ago, a little event may have occurred that might have gone something like this:
    So two guys are doing a rehab job, some windows, trim, odds & ends fixtures, etc.
    Along comes a muni insp and busts the job for no permit. He was actually called out on a complaint for the building next door. Guys there were working late into the night not to get busted. (We) happened to be putting in new windows that day and the insp came to our jobsite.
    Insp comes in, looks around, talks, my partner was in the back. I excused myself, went to my partner, we pooled our money and just had the $200 going rate at the time. Went back to the insp, pulled the money out and went to hand it to him and then
    Insp- No, very nice about it, pleasant, not a jerk, just No
    Contractor- completely dumbfounded and speechless; stood there like an idiot not knowing what to do. After what seemed like forever. I stretched out my hand again.
    Insp- No again, he started to walk around some more and look at the job
    Contractor- walked to the back in a daze and told partner. He was stunned, also didn't know what to think or say. We finally figured prices had gone up.
    Went back to the front, apologized to the insp, said I was sorry and that I wasn't trying to be rude, I just hadn't realized that prices had gone up, we had no more money but if he came back tomorrow we could give him whatever more we owed.
    Insp- No, I don't want your money. Keep it, buy something for yourself, whatever. All I want is that you get a permit and do a good job. I'll stop back in a few weeks, make sure you have a permit and keep doing a good job.
    While he talked I stood there looking at him intently trying to locate the mic. I was sure at this point it was an FBI sting of some kind.
    Then he left.
    Get a permit? We didn't even know how to do that at the time.
    We sat and waited for the FBI to show up and haul us away. We were positive that what had just occurred was some sort of FBI sting. The LAST thought that finally came to us was that maybe, quite possibly, we had just met the first honest insp.
    We were baffled, stunned. in a daze, just sitting there. Over the next couple weeks we told other contractors about this encounter but then stopped. Guys just laughed. Said it was a funny fantasy, stop BS ing, that never happened not in this town, etc. No one believed us, not even my own Dad.
    We got a permit. The insp came back a few weeks later, was very nice, approved the job and everything was fine.
    It is important to understand ... in those days in that far off Galaxy. You had to pay whether you had a permit or not. If you didn't pay, that jobsite and others you were found on were going to be difficult to work. Nobody wanted to pay those SOB's but you essentially had to.
    We were taught, you NEVER, EVER, take. (because then you are the -insert preferred expletive-) But if you have to pay to keep your crew working you pay. As the boss, your crew and their families depend on you to keep the jobs going. If they don't work, they don't eat and neither do you.
    I never did know the inspectors name. I've always been grateful to him.
    After that encounter, I never paid again.

    www.aic-chicago.com
    773/844-4AIC
    "The Code is not a ceiling to reach but a floor to work up from"

  57. #57
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Mr A. D. Miller

    Holy mackerel

    What's up man

    Marcus

    Jumpin gee wilikers

    Both think that everyone who works for a municipality is a shyster, lazy ass, no good, piece of crap. Oh yeah. You both said there are nice guys, I was blinded by everything else to remember that.

    Aaron

    Do you really think that the Republicans had the only hand in this mess we are in. Either you are a devout democrat and you have been blinded by the glowing light of the democrats or you just chose to not see what has gone on with the Dem's and repubs. My personal opinion about the Dem's and repubs in general is that they are just out for themselves. What ever will make them look good at the time is the flow they go.

    Gentlemen please. Life is not so bad and everyone isn't a crook. The economy sucks, big time and will more than likely get worse before better.

    Wayne said it pretty good.

    I might add one more time that the Muni inspectors may be trying to catch everything they can but they are not going to get everything. No, it is not a matter of simply being overloaded. It is a matter that they are not going to do one inspection a day and crawl around on their hands and knees in an attic and such.

    The job to do the work properly is on the man performing the task. His boss looks over his employees and he misses things. The builders super is behind them and he misses things. The muni inspector comes behind him and he may miss things. And oh yes. Let us not forget the HOME INSPECTOR. That ass misses things as well.

    Did I say that the home inspector as well as everyone else misses items as well.

    Did I say that the home inspector AS WELL as everyone else misses items as well.

    Not just you folks and or me or anyone else on this board but anyone on this planet that thinks we live in a perfect world or if there ever will be a perfect world is having serious nightmares.

    Mama never promised us a rose garden, now did she.

    Well. There is a Santa Clause but that is another story.

    I am kind of questioning the Easter Bunny


  58. #58
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Thanks Ted. that was great.

    Best

    Ron


  59. #59
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I am kind of questioning the Easter Bunny
    Ted: You mean this one?

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  60. #60
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    Ted: You mean this one?
    Now I have renewed faith. I was sure there was an Easter Bunny but just have not seen him (or her) lately


  61. #61
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Perplexed by AHJ Inspector Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Now I have renewed faith. I was sure there was an Easter Bunny but just have not seen him (or her) lately
    Ted:

    She was in Alaska until just recently. You'll likely see her soon as the partner of the (Hanging Chad) Jebby Bear from Flahdah.

    Damn shame the Republicans are not just mythological creatures, then you could shoot them all. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

    Aaron


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