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#16255 - 11/08/02 08:02 AM A Wild Inspector
Beri Offline
Junior Member
Registered: 11/07/02
Posts: 1
Loc: Hartsdale, NY, USA
I own a co-op unit in a suburb of New York City. The building is aout 100 years old. I hired an electrician to do some work. After completion, the town inspector looked around and cited a violation that there are not enough outlets around the kitchen counters. This was completely unrelated to the work being done. I said to him that this is the way the building was built and that all the other 100 or so apartments are the same way. He is now threatening to force the whole building to add outlets (about 4 per unit), which will require to replace fuse boxes with circuit breakers, and possibly require a beefed up supply from the local electrical utility - overall several hundred thousands of dollars. This sounds like complete madness to me. Even if the units are not to the current code, isn't there a "grandfather" issue here? Are there legal means to fight this? Has anybody experienced such a situation?

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
#16256 - 11/08/02 10:11 AM Re: A Wild Inspector
gramps Offline
Registered: 08/25/02
Posts: 112
Loc: ohio
well, the bottom line is, the "ahj" has the final word, unless you can prove that he made an error in code application. of course, he should be ready to show you, in the code, why he is tagging you. his responsibility is only to inspect the work done, but, and this is a big "but", he has the authority to make sure that whatever the work you had done is connected to code-compliant existing wiring. inspectors can require existing stuff be brought up to code too, if there is a flagrant code violation observed. sounds like your inspector is having a bad day, and wanted to ruin everyone else's too.
btw, there may be other codes in effect too, besides the nec; such as your city code, or state code, that could be much stricter than the nec.
#16257 - 11/08/02 04:02 PM Re: A Wild Inspector
ElectricAL Offline
Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 597
Loc: Minneapolis, MN USA
Over here in Minneapolis / St. Paul, there is a so called Minimum Maintenance Electrical Code that is a subset of the building code that covers existing buildings. It is created by the local Authority. Your local inspections department can direct you to this, if there is one in force for your area. The purpose of such a code is to clearly spell out what improvements are required above and beyond the original wiring "as built" way back when.

In my area, a kitchen, up to 179 square feet, has to have three receptacles, one of which must be on a 20 amp circuit. Any new wiring added to satisfy this requirement must be done to the standards of the current NEC in effect. That's the 2002, in my area.

Al Hildenbrand
#16258 - 11/08/02 04:55 PM Re: A Wild Inspector
Tom Offline
Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1044
Loc: Shinnston, WV USA
In the area I live in, there is a requirement for permits and inspections in unincorporated areas to be handled by the county. The inspector is legally reuired to enforce the entire building code. If he comes out to inspect your electrical service & sees a plumbing code violation, the property owner will be required to correct the plumbing code problem.

As far as legal means to fight this, get a specific code article citation from the inspector. Hire someone that can determine if the installation met the code at the time of installation. If the installation met the code at the time it was installed, it should be grandfathered, if it didn't meet code for that time, you're probably going to be out of luck.

Why would a fuse box be required to be replaced with a circuit breaker box? This is entirely bogus since there has never been a documented case of a properly sized fuse failing to work. The same cannot be sid about a circuit breaker. Make sure that your local government has actually adopted, by enactment of a law, the removal of fuseboxes.

Just because you need to add outlets doesn't mean you need to add service capacity, after all, receptacles consume no power and there is no limit in a residential setting as to how many can be installed on a circuit.

Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.
#16259 - 11/08/02 04:56 PM Re: A Wild Inspector
Electricmanscott Offline
Registered: 01/12/02
Posts: 1457
Loc: Holden, MA USA
THE AHJ DOES NOT HAVE THE FINAL WORD. This is bull bleep. There is no justification for this, Unless there is a life safety issue (ie live wires hanging from the ceiling). If every building had to be brought up to the current NEC we'd be rewiring every three years. Not gonna happen. Time for some good legal advice to get this guy in line.
#16260 - 11/08/02 06:17 PM Re: A Wild Inspector
Chris Rudolph Offline
Registered: 05/01/01
Posts: 160
Loc: Winter Park,Fl USA
Even though the NEC does not put a limit on the number of receptacles on a circuit,many towns, cities, municipalities,do have documented codes that limit the number of outlets per circuit.The city that I live in has a limit of 8 outlets(recpt,fans, lights) per circuit.
#16261 - 11/08/02 08:17 PM Re: A Wild Inspector
scjohn Offline
Registered: 07/04/02
Posts: 74
Loc: charleston, SC, USA
As Chris just stated.. If the city has it in written documentation, then that is it. The nec is the bare minimum. Each mun. has the right to go above the nec requirements, not below. These do have to be in written documentation though, not just an ahj afterthought.
#16262 - 11/09/02 04:05 AM Re: A Wild Inspector
sparky Offline
Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5303
Life Safety codes come to mind with a 100 yr old rental.
Obviously if it has been subjected to minimal maintenence , and no authority has viewed it over time there will be a point when the Levee Breaks .
The usage in electrical appliances havesomewhat been a tad more demanding in contrast to 100 yrs ago.....
As a contractor i read landords thier 'rights' in situations where any AHJ will be by to view my work, if only in that they are allowed to address LifeSafety concerns ( NFPA 101, maybe 73).....

oh....and this is NOT a pull-it-outta-your-large-intestine document.....

Time to pay the piper dude.....
#16263 - 11/09/02 04:25 AM Re: A Wild Inspector
Joe Tedesco Offline
Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 2749
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts USA
You can save yourself valuable time and get the answers to your questions by contacting the local building department.

[This message has been edited by Joe Tedesco (edited 11-09-2002).]
Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant
#16264 - 11/09/02 04:32 AM Re: A Wild Inspector
Electricmanscott Offline
Registered: 01/12/02
Posts: 1457
Loc: Holden, MA USA
I would love to see this building upgraded. I am sure it should be. BUT I have s problem with a public official who can force a property owner, be it a 1 unit home or a 100 unit apartment, to spend this kind of money without a clear and present danger. Once again "no good deed goes unpunished" The guy did the right thing by getting an electrician and permits and it comes back and bites him in the ass!

[This message has been edited by Electricmanscott (edited 11-09-2002).]
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