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Bad week as an inspector

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by elkimmeg, Apr 14, 2006.

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  1. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    First I condem one chimney for lacking code requirement of flue separation
    Second the state is going to pull the rug out from under me and take away my certification
    I loose my election bid for board of health. Only good thing is it hit every fairway tonight averaging 260 yds plus.. If only i could putt better, but not bad second time out 3 over par

    Now comes this chimney situation

    While I am still an inspector, I have discovered these code deficiencies recently. The said home being build contains 6,700 sq ft, so not the cheapy cape from yesteryear. The inspection is a throat inspection of a fireplace. Sitting on the ground is a pallet of cored masonry 4” blocks. Wondering what they could be used for I soon discovered they were used to form the backing of the firebox and even the spacing to the wood header.
    Code requires solid masonry. Not hollow core The guy doing laying the bricks and blocks does not understand English. It is impossible to have a conversation with him.
    I asked him For the masonry license required for chimney construction. He no speak English and continues laying hollow blocks I tell him to stop but he continues Finally one of the framers gets his boss on the cell phone. This guy ask me what my problem is he informs he has done thousands of chimneys this way and never had a problem. I tell him there is a problem and I stopped the job for two reasons hollow core blocks and it being done by an unlicensed worker. He informs me I can’t stop the job he has to pay a crew and is on a schedule. I require him to come to the office and present a copy of his masonry license to be copied and placed on file He can’t comply, as he does not have a masonry license. I said what?. He says no one ever asked for one before and did not even know they exist. The law or code requirement was initiated in 1988 He request me to inspect today and that he changed the hollow core blocks with solids This guy must think I fell off the turnip cart as I can tell fresh masonry and older established motar a few days old the top blocks were changed but none of the bottom. Since there were no solid blocks and I had stopped the job then how can he explain additional work or them being solid?
    Here is where this is going tomorrow I am bringing a hammer drill and masonry bit and drill the suspected blocks. If I hit hollow masonry the whole chimney is coming down and installed by a licensed mason. Required is a codebook on the job site, there is none. I will not sign off on a sub standard fireplace non-code compliant.
    Wondering out loud here, If the state removes me who will replace me? .I wonder how many substandard un safe chimneys are being build every day. Who will stand up for correct practices Craig knows the dangers of substituting hollow core blocks for solid masonry. Life and safety issues should never be compromised. I will be on the phone with the General Contractor first thing tomorrow. I am going to draw the line in the sand. If I have to I will shut down the entire job including police to evict all workers. I am not doing my job if I allow or compromise safety and code. I should be removed

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  2. Turner-n-Burner

    Turner-n-Burner New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Messages:
    184
    Loc:
    North of Boston
    I think the prospective homeowner will care. Someone is going to pay huge money for that home, they deserve to be safe. Even if a homeowner is knowledgable (and most aren't) there is simply too little time in an average sale for a prospective buyer to find out about a home's defects - even more so when it's encapsulated in masonry. We have to rely on inspectors...

    Don, will the fire department back you up? They should. And do you know a lawyer? I'm wondering if you have any potential liability here. You've been told that this guy has built "thousands" of chimneys in a unsafe manner. You should probably talk to the town's legal counsel, you may be required to take some action. I would think some lawyer would be happy to file a class action lawsuit against this clown - building chimneys with unlicensed masons and not following code. Thousands of chimneys? Holy crap.

    Note - I don't normally advocate bringing lawyers into matters, but this is a big deal.

    -Dan
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Up date just as I suspected no licenced supervisor again on the job to oversee the chimney fire box construction
    My hammer drill also proved my point hollow core blocks as close to combustiables as 1.5" The guy lied to me yesterday telling me he swapped out the hollow core block with solids. I knew he was lying as I can tell the color of 3 day old motar to fresh laid motar.
    The drill told the entire story left no doubt. Job is shut down till a meeting with my commissioner and the GC and owner of the masonry company. This guy went ahead and built the entire chimney with hollow core blocks. Some angry words from him towards me on the cell phone. He is going to report me to the state. I thanked him for doing so. I also reminded him the state would be real interested in those 1000's other chimnies he built with hollow core blocks. So Tuesday morning, Monday being a holiday, we will meet. The local district state inspector says he may attend ( golfing buddy of mine)

    This setup is know in the industry as a burner. Get this, the cost difference between hollow core and solid block is $.35 ea 300 used in a chimney $105 this guy is staking his reputation to save $105. The home may approach 3 mill. I find out he is paying his foreign no speaka English help $8 per hour working un supervised. He could not meet me at the job It requires a ferry ride to get to the main land Matha's Vinyard from his summer home. The greif and insults I get trying to do my job right,,may not be worth it, definitely not worth the money or agrivation. There is something wrong with this picture. I get Paid $25 to uphold the code and protect one's life and safety on a 3 mill home? And BTW I drive my own vechicle to do the inspections? And the State wants to de commission me?
    Sounds about right and fair? My wife is right. I should stick with carpentry less headaches twice the money. Speaking of which lunch hour is over
  4. martel

    martel Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2006
    Messages:
    207
    Yes, Boston Marathon day!! :) I miss beantown.

    Elk, your doing good work. Don't let the b@stards drag you down.
  5. johnnytugs1

    johnnytugs1 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    42
    Loc:
    jackson, n.j.
    elki,
    i'm getting closer.........going to anchor tonight in jamestown just past the newport-jamestown bridge.weather supposed to turn to crap on the way to boston.i was gonna call ya for a cold one get together because i originally was supposed to get off in r.i. but things went to S@#$ and i gotta get off in braintree.
    john
  6. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Braintree is about 20 minutes away Used to be closer with my LT1 vette But driving a 4 banger with little power but econimical
    Should have given me a call.

    BTW are you bring coal up to Branton point new Coal fire electric plant? BTW the cleannest burning of its type so far
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,109
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Quite amazing!

    First of all, let me know by PM or email if you need a letter or fax from me about your participation here, etc.

    Secondly, I can only liken this to politics. I've said before that I'm 52, overweight, balding, with 3 kids and a (female) wife, a dog , a house in the burbs, an investment account and newer cars. Yet, I am considered so far left of left by those who think they are centrist in some way.

    Just as with that example, you are considered RADICAL because you are trying to do a job in the best way you know how - and within government! Remember Serpico? and dozens of other stories like it? The fact is that the "system" does not want you to do your job in the best way possible. Contractors and developers are usually tied up closely with government. Also, government rewards inefficiency. These things work against you. You are seen as a radical....and you might be surprised to be a fly on the wall and hear who considers you that way (just guessing).

    When my wife ran for city council, the word got out that she had good intentions. Next thing you know, the word was coming down the STATE level.....from her same party - WATCH OUT, WE HAVE A "WHITE KNIGHT". Of course, my state sales tax returns were audited soon after.

    Back to the problem at hand. Inbspectors have to be somewhat flexible. I like to think that if it was 3 3/4" from the rear to frame, you would probably OK the job or tell 'em to chisel a little of the stud. There is always some kind of fudge factor. But after having seen this recent house fire AFTER ONE REALLY HOT FIRE, I am 100% sold on masonry standards.

    Keep in mind that even the newest standards would NOT pass UL tests. The brick lobby is good, so they don't have to. In other words, the standards orgs have done the same thing this builder is doing - relying on the fact that houses are not burning down from this every day to set their codes! This is an accident waiting to happen because most people either do not use their fireplaces or put gas logs in...OK, these won't burn. But all it takes is one power failure and John trying to keep the family warm - and, as Cheech says "up in smoke".

    There must be a solution for Elk. I think maybe he has to establish an expert consulting group and get paid big bucks by homeowners to be their advocate during construction. He can just charge a percentage of the house price - why, 1% would do!
  8. johnnytugs1

    johnnytugs1 New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Messages:
    42
    Loc:
    jackson, n.j.
    nahhhhhhh were going to braintree (citgo) with 70,000 bbls gas. just stopping in narragansett bay to anchor for bad weather. someone else got the "gravy" coal run. depending on the time of arrival in braintree i'll buzz ya up! do you need me to send the letter i sent to you to the state ....i'm waiting on your approval.
    john
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    John the letter looks good Can't meet tomorrow night got to have some fun sometime Golf.

    Craig the hollow core block was part of the problem Unsupervised work by people 3 months in the country building the fire box is another issue and using hollow core backup blocks and filling the sides within one inch to combustiables another

    Solution after the meeting he brought in another inspector from Revere but in the end it was my call.
    The two fireplaces and chimneys will be inspected and certified by a requstered engineer. The owner, (Custom home), will be informed in writting
    being made aware of the situation. The hollow core blocks near the combustiables that I drilled will be removed.

    The second chimney on another home after trying to fudge it again is comming down. I have never seen where both flues makea 45 degree bend for no reason very poorly built Accident waiting to happen. Too many code violations to mention

    Hold a day or two on the letter I have more than 20 here now.

    In 10 years 3 chimnies were made to be torn down, the past week 2 more. I one thing in common all involved first time masons doing work in the town. Most of the regulars do a decent job. This does not bode well for work being done in the rest of the state. What is scary is poorly built chimnies and fire places could be the norm.
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