My experiences with the inspection community have been generally professional, even positive. Yet, the current job has introduced me to a particularly vexing sort of inspector.
Mind you, this gent is professional in his manner, and seems to mean well. The problem is, well, he's rather limited in his exposure. Here are some of the matters we've had extensive conversations over:
1) Support of EMT. Specifically, where it passes through light steel framing. I've been using some plastic "mickey mouse" bushings, the same ones used by the plumber. This has led to quite a discussion about whether the pieces need to be UL listed for use with conduit. Last we spoke, he was still puzzled on the NEC's failure to require supports to be listed;
2) Grounding pigtails. Or, specifically, the use of ordinary wire nuts to connect them together, rather than using the "greenies." I'm not sure he can understand the UL explanation I provided;
3) The use of colored tape to identify larger wires as to phase and voltage. He has the opinion that if colored wire is made, we're supposed to use it. This particular issue has not been a problem for me- but I was shocked to hear him express that sentiment;
4) He expects MC used for 277 circuits to have the outer jacket marked with "480 volt" wire colors. Heaven forbid we use use black wire MC as a lighting whip on a brown circuit - but he'd never notice brown MC on a 'yellow circuit;' and,
5) Our use of stranded MC has him completely confused, as he's never seen it before. Since we're using it for the low-voltage side of LED lighting, he has unfortunately decided it's for low-voltage only.
So far, he's been more amusing than annoying. Have you ever encountered such an interesting inspector?
I haven't had problems with inexperienced inspectors. I have had problems with certain types of inspectors.
It seems some inspectors look for a reason to allow what you do and others look for a reason to disallow it. The first doesn't want to use the power he has and the other might be willing to make up a reason to use it.
I have noticed that the harsh inspectors are hard on their co-workers, too. Sometimes inspectors have to cover for each other - like for holidays. When they cover a harsh inspector's area, they can't answer questions because they will be contradicted when he returns.
So, all my examples come from one inspector.
1) After checking my calculations, the inspector said that 90.25 is not greater than 90.
2) He made another electrician pull his cables out of an MCC and install a steel plate because he didn't think the top of the MCC was thick enough to prove a good ground connection to the connectors.
3) He made an electrician put anti-shorts in teck cable that had the rubber sheath around the conductors.
4) He made me go back to a job and strap another electrician's cables where they ran into a panel because I ran a cable into the same panel and I should have strapped theirs the way I strapped mine.
All I can say is some people are just wrong. I also understand some of them will refuse to admit it. Reno's guy really sounds like he needs a little more education or a different occupation. I have seen guys like this get beat up pretty bad at an IAEI meeting and I just hope they learned something. Some were inspectors who had been in the business for years.
... and yes, I have been wrong but I backed off and apologized when we looked in the code book.
I suspect that there are two things that contribute to these situations.
First, there is the tendency these days for inspectors to be 'school trained,' to the exclusion of any real trade experience. Look at the job postings; they ask for certification, education, degrees - and are not interested in any actual trade experience.
Indeed, there's a tendency to start a new inspector off in something completely unrelated to any trade; they start as 'sign inspectors' or 'code enforcement.'
Second, well, the abuse of power always finds its' way into the right hands. The ability to strut around, to be the absolute authority, to appoint yourself king, attracts all the wrong sorts.
Indeed, the way you're treated as royalty, the way the dynamics of the relationship shield you from any accountability, almost force the inspector to develop an overly high opinion of himself.
The last factor is one that applies across the board: what passes for 'critical thinking' these days would confound Socrates.
Let's look, as an example, at those plastic supports I mentioned. These are substantial plastic bushings that wrap around the pipe, gripping it on all sides. There are two 'ears' that allow you to attach it to a metal stud:
Now, If I saw one of these wrapped around the pipe at every point where it passed through a stud, I would think "that's a pretty substantial support."
Our inspection troll instead thinks "I've never seen that use before. Surely it can't be right. I wonder if they're rated for that specific use? Where does it say these CAN be used? Aren't I the eagle-eye for spotting this innovation! (And innovation is suspect, if not outright bad)."
I think "education" should also be telling you what the code is silent on. Exactly how you "support" equipment is one of those things. Certainly there are products made for the electrical trade that will hold up a piece of pipe but that may not be the best product for it. Plumbing pipes are actually a lot heavier than raceways because they are typically full of water and they may "hammer".
Reno: First, the hanger for the pex pipe would not raise my eyebrow, except to ask 'where did you find that?' At $4.95 for 10 pcs. (from your link), I would not expect to see all that many!
Second, your comments on those that are 'book smart' and may lack 'hands on trade experience'. No argument on this from me! Yes, there seems to be a trend for 'multi-license' inspectors within the help wanted ads. Bldg/Fire. and Bldg/Plumb are common, along with the Administration Lic.
The following comment, may create an issue..... " Second, well, the abuse of power always finds its' way into the right hands. The ability to strut around, to be the absolute authority, to appoint yourself king, attracts all the wrong sorts."
"Indeed, the way you're treated as royalty, the way the dynamics of the relationship shield you from any accountability, almost force the inspector to develop an overly high opinion of himself."
"The last factor is one that applies across the board: what passes for 'critical thinking' these days would confound Socrates."
To this I will say......
Yes, there may be some who go over the lines, but, to infer that it applies to all is not a fact that you cannot substantiate.
I can deal with most profession Inspectors that work for the various municipalities and jurisdictions. I generally find that working with them instead of butting heads goes a long way. Most times I can win them over and we can have a win/win discussion about what the intent of the requirements are...and I'm not above making a change if it's a low-cost way of getting out of a squirrely situation. Sometimes I need to go over their head; it generally works but it also sours any chance of a future peaceful coexistence.
My major issue with the vast majority of 'Home Inspectors' is that they compare everything to the standards of the most recent edition. I think if they were inspecting a log cabin in a frontier recreation town they would cite it for lack of GFCI receptacles.