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trying to get my permit

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by annette, Nov 22, 2005.

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  1. annette

    annette Member

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    the Indiana Riviera
    I just spoke to my city's inspector (well, one of 2)

    Heating appliances fall under the HVAC-Plumbing department of the city. The inspector I spoke to says that I absolutely cannot install the stove myself, that it must be done by someone licensed for HVAC and plumbing. The permit will only be issued to a licensed contractor (I can't arrange the permit while I figure out who to use) , and he would not even tell me the cost of the permit. He said he highly doubted that the installer who recently gave me an estimate was properly licensed for HVAC, if he specializes in wood stoves. He said they have a list of licensed contractors that I can check--but by coming in, not by phoning. How...helpful. He did say that the permit cost was based on the job cost. I got him to clarify, saying the total job cost--labor AND supplies. This seems stupid--now I'm definitely buying my chimney parts myself!

    Should I fight on, and get someone in the office to let me come in and read the codes? Even if there is a homeowner exemption, will he refuse a permit anyway? I had to explain to him what a wood-burning stove is. Is it possible that he is placing it in the wrong category, and convince him that a different code applies?

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  2. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    I'm not quite as cynical as Frank (I suspect I'm younger, so perhaps in time...).

    Your experience closely mirrors mine 6 yrs ago when I tried to install my first stove. Not exactly word for word, but close. It's almost certain that there is a homeowner exemption (that is, you can get the permit yourself). You're not going to get out of this without going down there a few times.

    The people on the phone were almost uniformly against the idea of homeowners doing anything themselves, and were generally difficult. I sucked it up and went in and smiled and generally tried to beat them senseless with the olive branch. Eventually it worked, and I even got to talk to the guy who was actually going to check the install. there were only a couple things that made any diffrerence (with a full liner) : 1) the male ends of the pipe all pointed down to the stove, 2) the wall clearances were OK, 3) the hearth depth was OK. Mantle wasn't an issue. The 'inspection,' to the extent it could be called that, took less than 10 minutes from the time he pulled into the driveway. He was probbly only in the house 2 minutes, and never looked at the roof.

    On the other hand, and I've heard this happens from a friend who's a contractor, if you're not part of the club, forget it. As far as he's concerned, I was lucky the inspector even came out.

    Might be worth floating a general location. Perhaps someone here knows someone inthe club. Given the similarity of the story, I'm curious if you live down the street...

    Steve
  3. annette

    annette Member

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    But I think I spoke to the guy who would be checking the install! There is a second HVAC/Plumbing guy, and I did think I'd try to talk to him.

    I live in NW Indiana, in case you actually do live nearby. Did you walk into the office and ask them to show you the codes? Or, how did you establish that you could do the install yourself?

    Beating them senseless with the olive branch--I like that.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    After leaving Mega Oil Inc. I spent three years as the IT director of a local government. I found out that the one question that absolutely unravels them is "Why"? Yes, one of my client departments included building inspections.

    It sounds like you have an inspector on your hands that wouldn't know a proper stove installation if it bit him on the butt. He would pass an installation by old Sam or Joe without leaving his office because he has known them for years.

    Just politely ask why they are the only locality in the known universe that requires an HVAC tech to install a stove instead of a qualified hearth technician. Tell them you are concerned about the safety of an unqualified HVAC tech installing a wood burning appliance in your home.

    That'll shift their wide butts in their lowest bidder office chairs.
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    International Mechanical Codes

    Chapter 1 Administration

    Section 106 Permits

    106.1 An owner, authorized agent or contractor who desires to erect, install. enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace a mechanical system, the installation of which is regulated by this code, or to cause such work to be done, shall first make application to the code official and obtain the required permit for the work.

    This is from the national governing Mechanical code he has that code but I doubt he has read it, not just an HVAC Code. Note it does not say HVAC anywhere or Plumber. Also note the Home owner can obtain the permit. Hell in our state the home Owner can act as the general contractor ( don’t want to get started there.)

    I just checked the State of Indiana and they indexed the international Mechanical codes as their base codes

    I think this is a town in NW Indiana Griffith here is there link to the building inspections dept http://www.griffithindiana.com/building.htm
    Direct cut and paste from their page
    “We realize that some homeowners and property owners may be able to do some work themselves. However, this does not preclude them from applying for a Building Permit, meeting the required codes and ordinances, et al.” t
    the licencing and contractor arrangement is spelled out clearly

    I am sorry you got the run around it should not be that way. In my town you may make an appointment and I will explain the procedures and even help you fill out your permit application.

    To Frank: I posted how I can influence my will. Most of the time it never gets this far. I also do not want to push it to that extent. I try to be reasonable and listen. Every now and then one runs into an A—hole and normal communication is not working, then other measures may be necessary. I may in a joking manner tell them to humor me just do it.
    But for the most part, day to day I am consistent. Most contractors know what I am looking for. When a code changes I inform them what it is and to plan ahead to implement it in the near future that I will be enforcing it say 30 days from now or on all permits issued 30 days from now. Existing permits I will allow them to finish up and not inflict additional cost a new code might require. I know they have set their bid but to plan any added expenses for future bids
  6. KarlP

    KarlP Feeling the Heat

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    My town has a clear policy on wood stove installs. Town hall gave me a photocopy of the code. I called the inspector and asked about the inspection process. He was fine with me doing a self install and asked me a bunch of questions about the stove and how I was going to install it. I got a permit and found the inspection process to be quick and focused on safety.

    My town will not issue permits to a homeowner to replace a water heater, gas dryer, or electrical wiring. Only state licensed contractors can get permits. I treat this as "don't ask, don't tell". :)
  7. annette

    annette Member

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    I really appreciate all the information and advice.

    I feel stupid to admit it, since I use the internet for most of my information, but I never thought to search the city site for permitting information until Elk posted the stuff form Griffith. Here's this, from my city's site:

    So, I take this to mean that I am SOL, that the city has adopted some stricter codes, or passed their own laws? I doubt that this is a bluff, and that with research I can prove to them that they're supposed to give me a permit. What do you think?
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    It is my opinion and experience that a homeowner can do ANYTHING including building their own home from scratch! Of course, you have to do it to the same specs as a contractor would do it to!

    The standard UCC permit forms used to have a "certification in lieu of oath" or something like that, where the homeowner signed and that meant they were doing it themselves....sort of a disclaimer....

    I would fight on myself - I think the guy is saying "if you have a contractor do it, they must be licensed", which is probably also wrong since there is no accepted certification for stove installing (it is being worked on)..

    So, yes, this is your punishment for trying to be a good citizen. Many citizens have no experience with government until they go and get their first permit - and I hate to say this - but the majority that I speak to have a BAD experience. In our town the whole Dept. staff was rude and snotty - finally, after years of complaining by a number of people, the town manager straightened them out to some degree...at least they started treating people with respect. Remember, they do work for you!
  9. annette

    annette Member

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    There is, of course, the temptation to do this with out a permit. But I live right next to a fire station, and they do take an interest in what I do! A chimney could get a lot of attention, and they've seen my wood pile go up. They were great for finding out how far it needed to be from the house, too.

    I have no idea if the permit folks drive around checking for violations after a person calls, but there's that possibility too.
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Ok here is a work around. Get the list of residential approved contractors and see if you know anybody on the list.
    Call that approved guy and expalin your situation He may just pull the permit and you work off the permit or hire the original guy to do the work like a sub contractor arangement
  11. annette

    annette Member

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    Elk, I was thinking something along those lines. My parents got a new furnace a couple of years ago, so maybe I can talk to that guy. Otherwise I thought about checking on the stove installer who SAYS he's licensed--he complained about their testing setup, so maybe he did actually get licensed for HVAC in order to install stoves in my city. If he is on the list, I thought about asking him how much he'd charge to pull the permit, then of course check on imy work before I have the city inspect it.
  12. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    Yikes. This sort of thing really is just a kick in the ass for trying to do the right thing. I suspect if you're in a 'city' you're better off not risking a non-permit install.

    I'm particularly fond of the code snip you posted. Our locale (a central MI community that just lost two GM plants) gave me a similar story, and recommended I find someone from the international brotherhood of whatever local 622 to do the work. But it was just an informal arrangement, not actually written into law.

    Sounds like you need to find someone with the appropriate license, and either pay them to do the work or just pass them a 'fee' for pulling the permit. In essence, your community has just put you over the barrel here, because few contractors are going to agree to pull the permit and let you do the work. Typical lines will run something like if their name is on it, they don't want you screwing it up. ON the other hand, they also know thay can charge $100/hr for the work, whenever it gets done, and at this point there's blood in the water.

    Timing may turn out to be a bigger item than the rest at this point. It may just mean it takes longer to recoup the investment, but you don't want to have it installed in March...

    Good luck, and don't make the last payment until you have and signed inspection tag.

    Steve
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