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No inspection/permit required for Insert?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ecfinn, Sep 7, 2006.

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  1. ecfinn

    ecfinn New Member

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    Hi all,

    In anticipation of installing some sort of Travis Industries wood-burning insert in the next month or so I made some phone calls today. Insurance agent is not aware of any changes required to my current homeowners insurance because I already have a fireplace in the house. But, he's calling the underwriter to get the final word. I specifically asked if I had to make a fire claim would the insert install cause any problems with a payout.

    Now, here's the kicker. I called my township code enforcement officer and asked him if I needed a permit/inspections to put in my insert. He said No. "It sounds like your very concientious about this so I'm not concerned. Just make sure you have a professional do the installation and follow the instructions in the manual carefully. Code references the manual specified clearances so as long as you follow that it should be fine." Lastly here was the line that got me. "I've got bigger fish to fry than to worry about whether or not you got a permit/inspection for your fireplace insert."

    So, barring anything unexpected from my insurance agent, it doesn't look like anyone around here wants me to do anything other than to make sure I've followed the recommended clearances. From reading various conversations around here in the past, this seems at least a bit unusual.

    Should I be concerned by this? What would you do if you were in this situation to ensure I don't get screwed later? I doubt I'd be able to get anything in writing from the township, but I at least documented the conversation in writing with time and date we spoke.

    Thanks for the help. More to come.

    Eric Finn

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I personally would not be concerned at all.

    I asked my inspector if I should get a permit for my pellet stove, and he said not to get one until AFTER I install the unit. I can guarantee you that he will come in after the walls are all closed in, look at the stove (and not the manual) and say OK. In the end it is YOU and/or your installers who have to install the stove properly.

    It is not your job to tell him his job. Believe me - these guys spend a lot of time arguing with the fire dept, the state, builders and everyone else at to what their job is......

    If I were in your situation I would celebrate!

    You alreay have a fireplace...you are not adding a wood burning device to the house - one is already there. So it is, at least to some, like a window air conditioner.
  3. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    This has been up for over 12 hours and Elk has not responded. Should we send someone to check on him?
  4. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy New Member

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    Actually, i dont think he addressed this in that post buster.
  5. ecfinn

    ecfinn New Member

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    I was actually kind of hoping he would respond. He did quote Craig's response though so I'm sure he read it. Just my luck he gets his feathers ruffled when I'm hoping to hear some good advice from him.

    Later,
    Eric
  6. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Elk might tell you to force the issue - I think.......
    My personal opinion is just that - the insurance company and the inspector have told you that you are OK. What are your options? Make him give you a permit? He may not take too well to that.

    BTW, I just had an electric inspection done - rough and final at the same time. He didn't even go near the basement of new circuit breaker, nor check the path or length of the run - didn't look at the wire gauge nor check the outlets.....just looked from 10 feet away and signed.

    So, what made me safe? It was knowing that the installation was done correctly....or at least mostly so. Certainly there might be a missing cable staple here and there...but that is not going to affect anything.
  7. Metal

    Metal Minister of Fire

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    I would take a position somewhere in the middle. At least get the insurance agents comments in writing just in case he leaves the company someday and something happens.
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Eric treat it like any important purchase of home improvement First of all document the calls made and to whom you spoke to.
    If subcontraction get the cubcontractor to sign a a piece of parer the to the best of his knowledge it was installed to all applicatable codes. Itemize all materials used with supporting manufactures instalation literature. If home take as many pictures as necessary including a 1' ruler as for clearance issues. Date the pictures and a brief description Like flue collar connection before hearth suround installed liner goind down the chimney the blockoff plate. Chimney termination cap installed. Should anything go wrong you have notes and pictures covering all details. This is also important if you have a warrranty issue you had a professional install it and signed he did per code and stove and m liner manufactures specs. You have proof If you did the install correctly maybe make up your own check off sheet acccording to manufacture specs with that much documentation you got a just about everything covered I probably went overboard here so admend what suits you
  9. recppd

    recppd New Member

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    I installed a Heatilator zero-clearance woodburning fireplace in a new addition a few years ago and went through the normal permit process as part of the remodel. After about the 3rd time using the fireplace, and literally having my feet turn numb from frostbite, I decided to install a Jotul Kennebec insert. I also contacted my insurance agent and he said that a fireplace insert was considered a part of the fireplace and didn't require any coverage change. I can't say that's the same for adding a free-standing stove, though. I was basically told the same thing by the building inspector. I explained that the insert would be connected to a new insulated stainless liner and he said "sounds like you know what you're doing - you're all set". I don't know if this is common practice, but I was a little surprised, especially since I told him I would doing the install myself.
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    When people talk about making improvements on their homes themselves I am reminded of a friend that finished his own basement a few years ago. When the guy came to to do his final inspection he walked around a little and said "Did it yourself huh?". Bill's heart sank and he asked if it was that obvious. The inspector replied "Yeah. You don't know how to cover up mistakes so you didn't make any.".
  11. the_guad

    the_guad New Member

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    This isn't the first thread about home owners insurance, so I'll but in and say what I believe was the bottom line for the others. This is to nobody in particular and everyone that's looking for information.

    Call the insurance company, full disclosure is your friend. I, personally, think that insurance is a scam but it's a scam that I can get behind. When I had my insert installed my insurer said that it didn't make a difference except that I had upgraded the house and added cost to the effort of rebuilding it where there to be a total loss. So whether you spend $5000 on an insert, flooring, art or $65000 remodelling your kitchen, ALWAYS call your home insurance carrier and alert them to the upgrades so that they will recalculate the value of the home. Your premiums may, and probably will, go up if you haven't done it in a while... but if you suffer a loss and they didn't know about it then they WON'T pay you to replace it.

    This forum is a great tool but make sure you use it as a guideline and not a rule for information specific to you and your family.

    That said, I can't wait for the burning season to start.
  12. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Really the codes are there for the insurance companies. I'd want to see something from the insurance guy in writing (then locked in a fireproof safe or safedeposit) saying he was OK with it. And document the call to the inspector. I suspect dragging him out will just irritate him. We all know how touchy those inspectors can be...

    That way you've got something to go into litigation with when they tell you they won't payout for the electrical fire because you had an unpermitted wood stove.

    Steve
  13. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    This whole subject drove me craze two years ago when I had an insert installed by a professional. Anyone whose studied any law cases knows what a nightmare a liability claim can be. And insurance companies have some pretty deep pockets and good attorneys. I still get upset any time this stuff comes up again and I'm reminded how up in the air my whole situation was, is, and will continue to be.

    I called the fire Marshal. "No, we don't need anything. (condescendingly) Our city hall has its own way of doing these things."

    I called my city hall. "Yes, we need 5 copies of all kinds of things PLUS we contract all that out to the county Public Works Dept. Here's the number you are to call." "Is there someone at city hall who can help walk me through the process?" "I just did sir." (Doh!)

    I called Public Works. "No we don't need anything cause you don't need a permit." "Are you sure, because my city says I do and I need 5 copies of all of these things." "Look dude, I said you don't need a permit!" "Can I speak with someone else?" "Yeah, but he'll tell you the same thing." (on hold, hold, hold, hold, someone else) "Same thing, dude." "Can you put that in writing and mail me a copy?" "No."

    I called my insurance. "Was it professionally installed, Mo?" "Yes." "Is a permit required by your city, Mo?" (Oh, dear God!) "Well, Yes. No. Maybe. Huh? Crap! They said no but it was all pretty confusing." "You're ok, Mo." (I could almost see them grinning, knowing they just shirked any potential liability while collecting huge umbrella premiums -- bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!)

    I called the stove dealer. "Do I need a permit... Don't you guys usually obtain permits for your install customers?" "Uh, do you really want to open up that can of worms, Mo? Besides, we don't install it ourselves. Here's a pro we recommend. Give him a call and set up an appt." "But, but... (doh) whatever..."

    I called the pro. "Which of us should persue the permit?" "Uh, I don't do stuff like that. I live in Mexico and you live in St. Louis County." "Hmmm. Are you licensed by the county to do business in St. Louis?" "No." "Do you have insurance?" "Yes." (probably auto insurance, right?) "Well then, I guess you don't have an account with Public Works needed to obtain permits." "I guess not. When should I come?" "Next Wednesday." "Okay, I'll see you then, Mo."

    "AAAAHHHHHHHH!" :ahhh:
  14. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    For those who worry about lawsuits and liability - certainly these things happen...BUT, consider that I:

    1. Spent 20 years+ installing and selling thousands of stoves and fireplaces.
    2. Manufacturered stoves
    3. Manufactured tea kettles (boiling hot water)
    4. Imported and distributed BOILERS including units which burned gas and wood/oil in the same units.
    5. Give advice and opinions here...
    6. Remodeled, built and demolished homes and other structures....

    AND, I have never been involved in a law suit. While it may be dumb luck, I sincerely doubt Mo Heat will be on trial for becoming confused about the various answers to his quest for "I'm OK, your installation is OK".

    On the funny side, we had a great inspector for years who suddenly died young (Thats not the funny part) - Soon afterwards, the new inspector questioned us about some work and development that had been informally approved by the deceased guy. "Alan Hall told us it was OK" was our standard answer, and since he was new, the inspector took it for gospel (in this case, it was true!) - BUT, we continued to use this excuse whenever we got stuck between a rock and hard place - ten years later, we said "Alan said it was OK"......finally, the new guy was experienced enough to bust us on it.
  15. scfa99

    scfa99 New Member

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    The thing that drives me crazy is how different towns/counties/states vary. My town in central NJ is so strcit, er money hungry that they require a permit for .......... low voltage landscape lighting. YUP! the stuff you plug in.
  16. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Well, that beats my town, hands down. Even though you need a permit here just to chop one of your own trees down. At least I could install my Malibu tier lights without needing big brother to give me the nod. I feel for you.
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