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Inspection Impossible

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I have been seriously slacking on updating the blog in the past two weeks.  My ending sentiment on my previous post was a hopeful send off of passing our inspection Monday morning.  Well, things didn’t go quite as planned.

The inspector approved all the electrical, plumbing work, and water supply, but had a question about the shower panel we planned to install.  He claimed that if the panel did not have the performance standard ASSE 1016 stamped on it, then we would have to install a mixing valve with the supply pipes.  The point of the mixing valve and the ASSE 1016 is that it prevents the hot water from scalding someone when taking a shower. Jim and the inspector searched our shower panel and could not find the ASSE 1016 stamp. It was clear there was a stopping mechanism so the shower could not get too hot and the manual stated the maximum temperature to be 100 degree Fahrenheit, but that was not enough for the inspector.  He failed us based on the shower panel (not ANY of the work we did).  He told Jim that we could install the floor and put up drywall in other areas of the bathroom though, since all of the work we did was in compliance.

So Monday night, Jim installed the subfloor while I started to measure and cut out pieces of drywall.  Jim also added two by floors in between some wall joists so we would be able to hang up the shower panel when it did get approved (we were determined to come out on top in this situation). Tuesday, we did a little bit more drywall installation. Wednesday, we both had the day off due to the “snow-quester” storm.  We only received about 2-3 inches of snow, but finished installing a lot of the drywall.

Our failed inspection turned into a much bigger deal than we had hoped. After calling the company who makes the shower panel, Jim found out it did not have the ASSE 1016 certification, but it did in fact prevent hot water from getting pass 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which is what the inspector needed to know.  Jim started looking into adding a mixing valve with the supply pipes in case we really needed them without the ASSE 1016 certification.  The first time the inspector came out, he had told Jim that he could take some pictures of the shower panel and ask around to other inspectors what they thought of the stopping valve and if that was ok. Jim therefore prepared the shower panel to show it could not get hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (he took off the knob to show the stopping mechanism). We scheduled another inspection for Wednesday, which was cancelled due to snow, and then rescheduled for Thursday morning.  I had a delayed opening for work, so I had the opportunity to meet with the Inspector while Jim went to work.

My goal was to kill him with kindness so he wouldn’t want to fail us. I tried to charm him, but shortly after his arrival, I realized that was not happening.  He came and continued to look for the ASSE 1016 label again. He mind was single-tracked and it was as if he had never told Jim that he could ask around for other people’s opinions on if it would be ok. He told me there was no way he could pass us with a shower panel without the label. I asked about the mixing valve he previously mentioned and then he told me he was wrong about that and we could not even add a mixing valve behind the wall because that was against code. That meant it was the ASSE 1016 or bust. Apparently, NO ONE in Fairfax County VA could have this specific shower panel in their bathroom. Nothing was good enough for this guy.  Then, while looking at the shower panel, he noticed the 6 small body sprayers on the shower panel. He stated he hadn’t noticed those before and any shower with 3 or more shower heads needed a 3 inch shower drain.  We had installed a 2 inch shower drain.  Now he was going to fail us because of that.

Please keep in mind, that Monday he had told Jim that we could install the floor and drywall in most areas of the bathroom because nothing was wrong with our work.  As I stated, we already did this work prior to the inspector coming out. This is all that we did:

The new subfloor in place with two hole cut out for waste drains!

The new subfloor in place with two hole cut out for waste drains!

Jim added two by fours so when we need to hang up the shower panel, we will have something to screw into

Jim added two by fours so when we need to hang up the shower panel, we will have something to screw into

One wall in place! (The drywall is blue because it is a special "mold resistant" drywall)

One wall in place! (The drywall is blue because it is a special “mold resistant” drywall)

Wall number 2 (the brightness of the snow is messing up this picture)

Wall number 2 (the brightness of the snow is messing up this picture)

The top view of wall number 2

The top view of wall number 2

The extension of wall number two

The extension of wall number two

Wall number 3 with tile-ready shower shelves! Nothing to bang your head on in this shower!

Wall number 3 with tile-ready shower shelves! Nothing to bang your head on in this shower!

Wall number 4

Wall number 4

Little fix in the ceiling where there wasn't drywall before.

Little fix in the ceiling where there wasn’t drywall before.

Wall number 5 - the area above the sink

Wall number 5 – the area above the sink

Wall number 5 continued

Wall number 5 continued

The bottom of wall number 5...I know it doesn't look finished but since it will be behind the vanity, it does not matter that there are openings

The bottom of wall number 5…I know it doesn’t look finished but since it will be behind the vanity, it does not matter that there are openings

Now he is trying to tell us that if we were able to get this shower panel approved, we would have to rip up the floor and redo all of our plumbing pipes so we could have a 3 inch drain for our multiple shower heads. It did not matter to him that the same two supply lines were all that was going to be providing the water. Without adding MORE supply lines, the shower panel would be limited to how much water could come out of it. He stated that in the future, someone could install a water booster and more water would come out and the shower would overflow (of course if someone did this in the future, THEY would have to get a permit and inspection and he could fail them then, but that didn’t seem to matter to him).  I got his supervisor’s information and updated Jim about the inspection.  To say Jim was displeased would be the understatement of the century.  Let’s just say it was probably good that I was there with the inspector and not Jim so brawl was avoided.

Jim called the inspector.  After a “heated” conversation that did not end well, Jim called the inspector’s advisor.  The advisor was much more willing to work with us. In the end, he told Jim that if the company that makes the shower provided written confirmation about the mechanism to prevent water from getting too hot AND confirmation that a 2 inch drain is acceptable for that shower panel, then we would pass the inspection.  The company was happy to give us that confirmation and after a lot of unnecessary stress, we officially passed our inspection.  This made Jim especially please since the inspector had told him repeatedly over the phone, “I am not passing you.”

One thing that the advisor seemed to realize that the inspector did not, is that we are DIYers.  Every time we have applied for a permit, it has been because of self-reporting.  We are good, honest people who want to do right by the county and ensure the integrity of our home, so we want to follow the laws and get permits but there is nothing to stop us from not getting a permit.  The county would not know when and if we made improvements in our home and they are not about to start searching every home for DIYers who don’t get permits.  The county makes a profit every time we get a permit and if the county is going to make us jump through unnecessary hoops in order to pass inspections, we will stop getting permits and the county will stop making a profit. Luckily, it all worked out in the end, but I do think we need to request a different inspector for the next time.

Last night, we finished the last of the drywall.  It has been a week since we passed the inspection, but we got side tracked by another project (update to come on the blog).  The bathroom feels like a real room again!

The drywall in place in the ceiling

The drywall in place in the ceiling

Last wall up and in place!

Last wall up and in place!

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2 responses »

  1. Always follow the inspector advice. They will save you tons of problems later on! Can’t wait for your house to finish!

    Rose

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Functional Bathroom | Maibe We're Crazy

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