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309a Construction & Maintenance
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What has your experience been with challenging the inspector on what they are calling out as wrong? Have you found it best to go along with what they're saying as to not have them nit pick more? Theoretically the inspector would have to prove what they're saying is by code or their job is at stake through complaints
 

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Light Bender
plumber
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6,513 Posts
Here they must provide a code reference for a defect.
Anytime I was told by an inspector to do something that I thought was not code, I would respectfully ask for a code reference.
 

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Estwing magic
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I don’t challenge inspectors, I turn it into a discussion. Show some respect but make it obvious you know what you’re talking about and that eating bull chit isn’t on the menu. If the inspection report doesn’t cite code rules just ask him to show you the rule so you know for next time (that usually slows the rule inventors down).
 

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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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I have always started out with calm, rational discussion. Usually that works.
For a short time I got my inspector certification and was doing inspections. I will admit that I was wrong several times and learned something from it. A good inspector when challenged will go back to the books for clarification. Several times I wrote to the IAEI for their opinion. I enjoyed the two way conversation where we both learned.
 

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I challenge them on the spot, I don’t lay down for any of em.
I’ve even gone over them a few times.
I like doing it, most guys in the shop will just back down and do what the inspector says or wants even if it makes no sense because they think the inspector will nit pick and take it out on them on the next job.
I’ve never felt that way about the inspectors though, I feel they are always willing to listen and see a different point of view and respect that. I don’t think most inspectors just want to stick it to someone just because they were proved wrong.


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In my area the residential inspectors are jack of all trades inspectors and preach a lot of voodoo code. I have challenged them a bunch of times and it gets passed on to the head electrical inspector who sides with me and the code book.
The commercial inspectors tend to be professionals. They have caught me on a few things and taught me a few things.
Don’t be afraid to challenge something if you believe it to be wrong. It’s a great way to learn. But always be a professional, don’t be a ****, and don’t be afraid to admit when you are wrong.
I try and do everything right and charge what I have to to make that happen. If the customer doesn’t like it I am sure there is always a guy on Craigslist who will hack it his way. I don’t need the work that bad to compromise my integrity. And so far it is working for me.
 

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Bilge Rat
motors and controls.........
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The few times I've disagreed with an inspector, I simply ask if he can show me the code section so I can learn from it. Sometimes they can sometimes they can't.

One inspector in particular was known to be .......well.....rather nit-picky. Like everyone else, he called me out on really small stuff so one day I decided to see how much of the code he actually knew.

1 HP single phase fan motor operating on 120, all pipe and flex. I installed a 40 amp single pole breaker in the panel and ran #14. When he saw #14 under a 40...........lol. But I led him through about a half-dozen code sections and in the end, he had no choice but to accept the installation.

I don't know if he changed or not, that was the last job I did in his area.

The key here is to always act respectfully. All inspectors are human.....well, almost all......and if you're a jerk, they will respond accordingly but if you treat them respectfully, they will respond accordingly as well.
 

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Estwing magic
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We have an inspector who’s a hard ass. I was doing a service repair and he was going to give me a red sticker without leaving his car. What he didn’t know was that the utility changed one of their own rules that morning (the line guys told me) and my repair suddenly became legit. I thought I embarrassed him but he became really good to work with after that.
 

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Electrical contractor 37 years. Electrical inspector 2 years
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We have an inspector who’s a hard ass. I was doing a service repair and he was going to give me a red sticker without leaving his car. What he didn’t know was that the utility changed one of their own rules that morning (the line guys told me) and my repair suddenly became legit. I thought I embarrassed him but he became really good to work with after that.
You mentioned they had a rule change. It would be nice if the powers that be give us a heads up when there is a policy change. We know about changes in the NEC and when it will be adopted. What we don't know about is when the municipality changes their protocols. With all the licensing and business fees they charge, send me a 65 cent post card to keep us informed.
 

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Power distribution and controls
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546 Posts
As others have said I try to turn it into a teaching/learning moment. God knows I do not know all of the nooks and crannies of the NEC or any other code there is.
I tied into an MSHA inspectors over ground fault outlets. Management at a company level had rolled on the issue costing our little facility $3k in parts labor was free. The guy wandered into a shovel we were working on with out the proper PPE. I escorted him to the lift and rode down with him.
Went to my truck got him a set of eye protection and we went back to the work area. Bosses found out and they panicked big time. These guys can shut down the site if need be. We started a dialog and it ended up with me asking him why he was inspecting areas of the mine that were not in his jurisdiction. Never got an answer but I believe it was MSHA flexing muscles after a particularly bad safety year. Mining IS dangerous. After that when ever he came to our facility I was his driver. Even MSHA inspectors are not allowed to drive around a active mine with out all of the training.
 

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If you know your right then you need to challenge the inspector. Be polite and have your code book handy so you can show them why you right. I think you have a much better chance of passing inspection the first time out if you are there to meet the inspector. Sometimes they might make comments on how they would prefer something to be done but even then, you need to bring it to their attention if their way is not to code or is possibly unsafe. Most of the time inspectors are quite fair and will allow you to correct issues and trust you to do so even after they leave if it's something small.
 

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Master Electrician - Ontario
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@Sutton88 since you have a 309A, you are in Ontario and working with the ESA. While I have had some defects over the years, most of them were stupid mistakes because somebody was rushing to get stuff done, or just got distracted. However I have had a couple that were interpretation and application.

One example was the use of Teck90 cable. We were doing a bunch of work on a large construction site that ran 24/7 and we had Teck90 run all over for transformers, spider boxes, etc. The cable was protected where it went over roadways, sidewalks, etc. Not a strap or support in sight.

Fast forward a week or so and one of my guys put some Teck90 on the ground beside a fence for a back workshop in a residential application. He just laid the Teck90 on the ground and they put some wood chips and stuff over it to cover it up a bit until it got buried the following spring. They wanted to save a bunch of plants and were timing the digging for that.

Did not get a defect for the miles of Teck90 that was running on the ground at the construction site, but got a defect at the residential location (same inspector). Inspector cited that the Teck90 must be buried or supported in a permanent installation, despite Teck90 being safe just laying on the ground in the garden, it had to be buried to proper depth or affixed to some structure. So the trench plan suddenly got moved up to immediate…

I could see his point, but I could also see mine equally well. However since this certainly is not worth falling on your sword for (and the client was doing the digging) it all worked out in the end anyway.

The problem with defects in Ontario, they go on the Company record and are not attributed to an individual person. One bad guy on just one job can play havoc on your defect ratio.

Cheers
John
 

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Bilge Rat
motors and controls.........
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7,948 Posts
@Sutton88 since you have a 309A, you are in Ontario and working with the ESA. While I have had some defects over the years, most of them were stupid mistakes because somebody was rushing to get stuff done, or just got distracted. However I have had a couple that were interpretation and application.

One example was the use of Teck90 cable. We were doing a bunch of work on a large construction site that ran 24/7 and we had Teck90 run all over for transformers, spider boxes, etc. The cable was protected where it went over roadways, sidewalks, etc. Not a strap or support in sight.

Fast forward a week or so and one of my guys put some Teck90 on the ground beside a fence for a back workshop in a residential application. He just laid the Teck90 on the ground and they put some wood chips and stuff over it to cover it up a bit until it got buried the following spring. They wanted to save a bunch of plants and were timing the digging for that.

Did not get a defect for the miles of Teck90 that was running on the ground at the construction site, but got a defect at the residential location (same inspector). Inspector cited that the Teck90 must be buried or supported in a permanent installation, despite Teck90 being safe just laying on the ground in the garden, it had to be buried to proper depth or affixed to some structure. So the trench plan suddenly got moved up to immediate…

I could see his point, but I could also see mine equally well. However since this certainly is not worth falling on your sword for (and the client was doing the digging) it all worked out in the end anyway.

The problem with defects in Ontario, they go on the Company record and are not attributed to an individual person. One bad guy on just one job can play havoc on your defect ratio.

Cheers
John
I would have done the same thing the inspector did.

On the commercial job, there's no question the cable will eventually be removed thus, no reason to reject it.

At the house, maybe they'll bury it and maybe they won't.
 

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Electrical Contractor
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@Sutton88 since you have a 309A, you are in Ontario and working with the ESA. While I have had some defects over the years, most of them were stupid mistakes because somebody was rushing to get stuff done, or just got distracted. However I have had a couple that were interpretation and application.

One example was the use of Teck90 cable. We were doing a bunch of work on a large construction site that ran 24/7 and we had Teck90 run all over for transformers, spider boxes, etc. The cable was protected where it went over roadways, sidewalks, etc. Not a strap or support in sight.

Fast forward a week or so and one of my guys put some Teck90 on the ground beside a fence for a back workshop in a residential application. He just laid the Teck90 on the ground and they put some wood chips and stuff over it to cover it up a bit until it got buried the following spring. They wanted to save a bunch of plants and were timing the digging for that.

Did not get a defect for the miles of Teck90 that was running on the ground at the construction site, but got a defect at the residential location (same inspector). Inspector cited that the Teck90 must be buried or supported in a permanent installation, despite Teck90 being safe just laying on the ground in the garden, it had to be buried to proper depth or affixed to some structure. So the trench plan suddenly got moved up to immediate…

I could see his point, but I could also see mine equally well. However since this certainly is not worth falling on your sword for (and the client was doing the digging) it all worked out in the end anyway.

The problem with defects in Ontario, they go on the Company record and are not attributed to an individual person. One bad guy on just one job can play havoc on your defect ratio.

Cheers
John
Got caught on a similar situation before.
Temporary power for a shipping container tool storage on site. About 5 feet of teck90 laid on top of about three feet of snow on the ground.
Inspector failed it...changed it to SOOW cabtyre, and all is well. I personally felt that teck90 would have been better.
 

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Light Bender
plumber
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6,513 Posts
Got caught on a similar situation before.
Temporary power for a shipping container tool storage on site. About 5 feet of teck90 laid on top of about three feet of snow on the ground.
Inspector failed it...changed it to SOOW cabtyre, and all is well. I personally felt that teck90 would have been better.
Me too.
Temporary teck feed for a job site trailer ran along and under a row of hedges. It was a residential site for a very large house, but the cable was ran far from any possible mechanical damage.
Inspector made me use short pieces of 4 x 4 lumber placed on the ground 5 ft apart and had to strap the teck to them.
 

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Retired EC
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23,119 Posts
I found most inspectors to be very reasonable around here. We do have a process if you disagree with an inspector and you are getting nowhere with your case.

There are some inspectors who are on a power trip. I have run into them also and it usually doesn't end well. I heard that one inspector in our area refuses to inspect my jobs because I gave him so much grief and I also reported him.

I hate it went that far but when you make it rules then IMO you need to fight back.... If the code is not clear cut then I will fix the issue but let them know I don't agree with their interpretation.
 
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