Here in Passaic, NJ, a discarded water heater will not be picked up unless a plumbing permit has been obtained for its replacement.
Given the danger of an incorrectly installed furnace or water heater (Carbon Monoxide, natural gas, fire, etc.) I would hope that a permit is required for a furnace install as well.
One concern about this photo are the cables that touch the pipes. The pipes can become extremely hot, especially when the pipes are close to the furnace. Is Romex allowed near such installations? Can insulation withstand temperatures that could possibly reach almost 200 degrees F?
In Maine one may need a permit from the solid fuel board to replace a furnace(I doubt it though), one definetly doesn't need an electrical permit. I believe in Maine a licensed furnace guy can run his own electrical from panel to furnace.
It looks like the original Furnace may have been in a slightly different position or maybe much larger. The installer did not bother to move the wiring or attempt to re-attach it to anything. This may be a case where the Homeowner was supposed to get an Electrician in to finish up, but never did. If permits/inspections were required for something like this (and that was enforced) we should see less of this.
Unrelated story: Recently there was a House that blew up in a neighboring town and I didn't see it, but got the impression that there wasn't much left of it. I heard that neighbors couldn't believe what happened and remarked how handy the owner was and that he even designed his own Gas Furnace. (!)
You guys think this is bad? I visited a downtown 3 story commercial building one time, along the years the oil burner / ignitor had to be replaced a few times, the latest time the local "maintenance" man did it, who had been "responsible" for the boiler for 10+ years. I looked at the wiring coming from the j-box to the oil burner assembly, and there was lamp cord powering the oil burner/ignitor (120v, actually somewhere around 127volts in this building 3ph). the insulation had melted pretty well completely off one of them with pieces still there in chared form.. I was called into the building after an extensive oil leak when the oiler filler hit turned the truck pump to "full" instead of "off" when approaching the top of the oil tanks. Somehow the building didn't blow up, but there was a light near the back of the room, that was wired to the high leg of the 3ph circuit, i thought the room was just really dark and couldn't figure out why the light was so freaking bright, until i plugged my electric drill in under it and it spun noticably too fast, and i said.. no way!
btw, the boiler itself had no overcurrent protection, well 400amps overcurrent, was spliced directly into the wiring tray at the main service.
Wish i had taken pics of this building, there was violations on violations around there.
In the U.K., it's illegal for anyone but a CORGI-registered fitter to install a gas appliance (CORGI = Confederation Of Registered Gas Installers). But that covers only the actual installation and fitting of the gas part of the system.
As for the electrical side, you know what I'm going to say, right? No permits, no inspections, anyone can do it.