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Back from the first day of State of MA Building Inspectors Conferences

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Mar 16, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Well I have been preparing for my presentations for a month. Today topic was inspections primarily solid fuel burning appliances.
    My new used lap top worked out terrific. Never finished covering the material as the presentation developed into a Q/A discussion session. Perfect, everything I hoped for the audience generated and dictated the topics, As many issued answered or discussed left more unanswered questions. State inspectors also participated. First time ever all 351 towns were represented Harry in your neck of the woods and Craig Western part of the state head honcho Gordon Bailey. Craig met a friend of yours Kirt Meloney New England Territory Rep for Jotul. I doubt any Zolzang stoves will ever be permitted again in MA. Also doubt any direct connects will occur in exposed to outside chimneys ( with 6" flue collars) Metal Block damper block offs will be the norm.
    I don't know how to explain it , but some how during the Seminar I found my A game. All ears and mind were receptive. The state is looking into my suggestion of certifying installers.. It's like every observation hit the target. I told the audience that I owe alot of problem solving to hearth net. forum, many issues were previously hashed out there. It helped when the Jotul rep piped up, that hearth net had a booth a in Salt Lake. Craig please tell People at Hearth Education Foundation I helped their recognition and provided the order forms they sent me. Thanks to all the participants here, for making my seminar for a resounding success. Tomorrow Seminar has been moved to the main Ballroom HVAC and residential inspections, I just hope I don't bomb

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Congrats Elk. There is no better feeling than working a room and they get it.
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Thanks Brother Bart. No magic, never planned, but hoped for, it all fell into place. A bit of luck and we are all entitled for some
  4. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Preparation seems to be worth a LOT in life. I'm usually OVER prepared, just in case. Also, when you know your material better than the audience it helps greatly.

    That's funny that hearth.com was mentioned in the seminar! We're everywhere, we're everywhere.....famous in our own minds, I guess......

    By the way, I'm taking a marketing suggestion by Martha (my better 1/2) and the name of the site is slowly going to be moved to "hearth.com" instead of HearthNet. Everyone gets the address and name confused anyway, so I think it is smart to make them all the same!

    Little by little, I will start using hearth.com. That way, anyone that hears or sees the name will know the web address.

    Congrats, Elk - you're getting your 15 minutes of fame....and you might even get more (Andy Warhol). The bottom line is that you like to help and educate people and there is a BIG market for that!
  5. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    So a do it yourself er wouldnt be able to install a stove any longer?

    I think having certified inspectors would be more beneficial.

    As long as safety is the number one issue with the install why shouldnt a homeowner be allowed to do it?
    I know if I had to pay someone to do it I would still be burning oil for heat
  6. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    From reading the above posts, I fear a trend developing that will make
    wood burning an activity only available for the wealthy & privaleged in
    future installs, and not available for those who really need it - the
    people on "fixed budgets" who are really feeling the crunch of
    oil/natural gas/propane. Do you think they will be able to afford
    the rates that a charged by those who are "certified", instead of
    being able to "do-it-yourself"??
    Inspections - "yes"
    State Liscensed Installers - "No"

    My 2 cents worth....
    Rob
  7. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    I agree with inspections like you Rob on both points you make. With that in mind, My .02 is that it kinda cancels out the need for a state liscened installer. Now when it comes to plumbing for gas, yes a liscened installer would be needed. Direct vent systems arent as simple as they might seem. Wood chimneys, i think can be installed by the homeowner, as long as he calls for a inspection. Now that doesnt automaticly mean that the homeowner know's any thing about draft, minimul elbows, mininum working hights of chimney's and stuff like that. You can have a totally leagle install that doesnt work. I leave that up to the knowlagble hearth dealer to help the customer deisgn his chimney.
  8. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    All of my friends who decided to become "state certified" Electricians,
    Plumbers, etc... did so only with the intent of making wads of cash.
    I believe it is so with any "state certified" occupation.
    Make more money if you can...
    I think it's just "human nature"....

    Rob
  9. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    Congrats Elk on a successful seminar. While people can agree and disagree on what level of safety vs. convenience (or cost) is appropriate, I think most can agree that a uniform inspection procedure would serve everyone well. As far as certification, in most cases there is a homeowner inspection for any work done.
  10. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    In general, there is an exception when a homeowner works on their own home.

    The key to certification is this: If you hire a "pro", then they SHOULD be a pro....also, there are so many people making up their own codes that it would be beneficial to have a standard that is the same everywhere. Also, as Elk has mentioned, it is possibly that inspectors would require LESS "proof" from certified installers than from others...saving time and money.

    We're playing with fire here - so it is important that things be safe. While I am not an advocate of BIG government, in this case it beats having a local-yokel tell you it's OK to put a stove pipe out the window.
  11. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Thats where the inspection process should work right? No inspector would pass a pipe out a window, and no hearth shop would be in business for long if thats a install they recommend, they would be owned by some home owner whos house they burnt down. Im all for proper instalation, and i prefer my pros that i use to do the work. But some people are qualified to do there own work, like builders, carpenters, the advanced do it your selfer etc. Who decides whos qualified or not? Not my job, but it is my job to feel the customer out and advise which path to take. I get this question alot at work "can i install this my self?" And my first question is how handy are you? can you frame? etc etc etc. If some one seems clueless then i dont go out on a limb and walk them through it. I always try to get people to use pro installers, its less headaches in the end.
  12. berlin

    berlin New Member

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    I personally believe that alot of it is. That kind of thing happens in many different guises. Safety is great, but i absolutely hate excessive and cumbersome regulations. Sometimes the biggest problem is that things are done to benefit a few who lobby hard in certain industries without opposition, this is easy when it is being done under the guise of "public safety" because who would oppose that? Unfortunately many regulations and some codes are NOT based on sound science, but rather what certain people lobbied hardest for; sometimes out of stupidity but most of the time for personal gain.
  13. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I agree, if you hire a pro they should be a pro
    Pass the cost on to those willing to pay to have the installation done.

    Depends on what you are working on with regards to who can do the work.
    About 15 years ago my parents switched from electric gas and dryer to propane.
    My father was all set with the black iron pipe, fittings ETC.
    He was told that he couldnt install gas lines.
    OK so he figures the "pros" from the propane company will do a good job.
    They come in and run refrigerator tubing, through the outside wall down into the basement to the dryer with a split going to the stove.
    Stapled along the basement and a 2X$ hilti-gunned above the dryer.

    A GHETTOFABULOUS job.
    He is still steamed about the whole thing and has been in his log cabin for almost 10 years
  14. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Chances are, if they have to ask they cant do it ;)
  15. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    GREAT POINT, thats usually true.
  16. Sundeep Arole

    Sundeep Arole New Member

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    I disagree. I asked that question when I first started looking at wood inserts. At the time I knew squat about them. So I felt the need to ask that question. Then I did my research (all on this board, BTW), and figured out what was involved. Only took up the job after I understood what I was getting into and what was involved in doing a proper, safe install. I did end up getting help from Elk in the end, but there wasn't ever a point where I felt I was in over my head. OTOH, when I had to get my oil boiler changed, I didn't ask if I could do it myself, because I knew I couldn't. I researched that too, and concluded that I was smart to leave that job to the pros. For that job though, I didn't go looking for the lowest bid either - I talked to other folks in my neighborhood and got references, and one company clearly came out on top. Called them, had them write up a bid, and agreed to pay their price.
  17. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    Thats why I said chances are ;)
  18. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Always great points here at hearth.com. I like both sides of view. THe fact is there is never a absolute situatiuon. I trust my instinct on the floor when im talking to my clients.
  19. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    no time to respond to the entire post but homeowner installs were discussed and general feeling one can not take that option away from them Naturally permits are still required Got to rumn more later
  20. djamwolfe

    djamwolfe Member

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    Around these parts you can build your own house from the ground up --- you still need to pass all inspections, but you can do it yourself.. Id hope if they are to regulate the installs they dont take that right away from the homeowner.. just my $.02
  21. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    It all started when I read the current code requiring an inspection report and cleaning prior to installing in an existing masonry chimney. I noted that the code calls for a qualified person doing the inspection. I noted that this was both Ma code, NFPA 211. And The International Mechanical codes. I also informed that a certifying a testing and program existed CSIA existed and that it also certified installers. Testing and certification also was available for pellet stoves. Un intentionally I opened Pandora’s box.
    The discussion went to tails of the worst installs each inspector had witnessed. All of a sudden, almost every person had his or her hand up. The # 2 guy in the state was sitting there taking it all in. Pretty soon the local town inspectors were looking at him for answers. Meanwhile I am trying to direct and acknowledge the participants all kinds of private conversations were occurring. I mean it turned into hashing out code revisions.

    (A little side note here. No body in the stove industry was prepared for the energy cost spike after hurricane Katrina. What happened is retailers sold out, had installation back logs. The installers hired on new inexperienced workers and in general. Installations qualities suffered. Part of the blame rest on the retailers and installers, for fielding less that qualified installers, who did sub standard or non-code compliant installations. Quality control ended up on the inspectors, many of which were not educated to inspect but educated enough to see total disregard to clearance to combustibles).

    Some semblance of order was restored but a buzz existed in the room. From this the discussion, led that some need for regulation of installations in needed. So many town inspectors were present (this is the first time almost the entire state was represented)
    One inspector added if we require licensing and certification. What about homeowner exemptions? Another piped up the importance of Home Depot selling stoves and their powerful lobbing influences. There whole existence is geared to do it yourselfers. At first it was agreed, that wood stoves installations presented too many hazards and safety issues, that it was best left to professionals. As I am standing there, I realized, if all installations had to be made by certified licensed people, I could not install my own stoves. I told them how I recently helped a guy in Framingham install his stove. Luckily The Framingham inspector was present and remembered the install. He pipe up, that it was easily one of the most code compliant complete installation he has inspected. My point was easy to make, that there exist many skilled homeowners, like myself, that can do quality code compliant installs. I also reminded them, that, we as inspectors are doing inspections of these installs.

    The 90-minute seminar flew by fast. I never got to finish my presentation. Out of it the powers that be, learned there are a lot of safety issues and need for further education of qualified inspectors.

    My motives: In the state of Ma in order to keep my certification. I have to attend so many seminars to and earn contact credits. In my area most inspectors are on salary and get paid to attend seminars and also a legitimate way to get out of the office and get lunch paid for. Me I am paid per inspection basis. I do not get paid to attend seminars. I make my money with a hammer in my hand. Doing inspections, actually cost me money, taking away from hours I get paid twice that of inspection. I did not fulfill the 3-year continuing education credit requirements. As of Dec 31 my license is up for renewal. I have yet received the renewal. However I am still certified until the review board hearing. For suspension, if it ever comes to it.
    I figured if I could present a seminar, I would have hundreds of witnesses that can attest to my knowledge, and that I must have studied and expanded my education beyond seminars. I gambled that I could pull it off. Yes I needed an ego. Yes I had to grandstand. My closing statements I told all in attendance, that my certification was not renewed and why. I then asked if I had demonstrated enough skill and knowledge to be recertified. Please give me a show of hands if you agree. I knew the State reps were there. I knew they saw every hand raised. I am not a good presenter Man I was shaking. Every now and then sometimes in life an opportunity presents its self It’s up to you to take advantage of it. This was mine. Was it enough I don’t know? I’m asking the State officials to think outside of the box. I may need you members to bombard the state with e-mails attesting to my knowledge and helpfulness, as proof of a from of continuing education.
    My assessment I accomplished all my goals. It turned out I had my A game. Yes I am riding high, a bit of ego-tripping. You may want to take me down a notch and I understand that. I feel proud of my accomplishments. But know now I can be better. I never covered all the material I prepped for. Even the second day I did not finish.
  22. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

    When you talk about homeowner installs I think about the story of a guy that finished his own basement here a few years ago. He invited one of the neighbors, a construction contractor, over to see it after he got finished. He was nervous as a cat while the guy walked around and looked at it. The construction guy looked at him and said "Did it yourself didn't you?". Bill said "Yeah, where did I make mistakes?". The contractor said "I knew you did it, there aren't any mistakes because you don't know how to cover them up.".
  23. hardwood715

    hardwood715 Feeling the Heat

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    Way to go Elk, I can attest that your reply to my situation, and further posts on my setup helped me gain not only confidence in woodburning, an appreciation for my stove, but also the peace of mind knowing that I have done the best I can with the safety of my family, and still keep my oil consumption limited to my hot water. Its this forum, your knowlegde and experience, and all the time you invested in building your own home , installing your own stoves, and knowing your inspector positioin well that I know has helped many people on this forum sleep easier at night, while thier stoves provide heat. Yeah your ego is flying high, deservingly so, while your at it reach over your shoulder and pat yourself on the back, cause in my book, and my 2 cents, your really deserve it! Where do I send my comments to those guys in Massachusetts, cause this New York Homeowner owes you a debt of gratitude!
  24. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I hope I will never need them, Thanks But if I do I will supply the e-mail address. I think the state will require some sort of letter stating that I have studied or furthered my education and may need some way to support it. That is where e-mails from poster may be helpfull, in substanciating my case. I think I have to give them something that they can consider. I will be talking to the powers that be, knowing when to cash in, is when the iron is hot.
  25. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Maybe in principle you can build it yourself, but at least in the Lansing area the general concensus seems to be that if you don't hire union guys to do the work, you'll be forever getting your inspections and occupancy permits.

    Got that view from both sides when I was looking at doing a master suite addition. Estimates were between $160 and $200/sf for nothing fancy (everything available from Home Despot). I talked to a guy who's a site manager for one of the big companies and a guy who has spent a couple years trying to build a house himself. Both said the goal is to give the DIY guy the runaround to keep the jobs in the community (not exactly sure how community is defined...)

    Steve
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