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A couple bought a really nice manufactured home. Built to dwelling Code, not HUD standards. It wasn't a Hudular, aka double wide.... The dealer hired contractors to do the poured baement, HVAC, elecrical service, plumbing connections, etc. Well the dealer's crew set the home... let me back up, the foundation... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2013 at CODEGUY's blog
An 88 year old widow's drain was running slow so she called her regular plumber who is actually named "Leaky Pipes Plumbing" . Really. He came out and could not remove the blockage so he called his buddy at Des Moines Drain and Sewer Cleaning Service. That guy came and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 2013 at CODEGUY's blog
Just did a final inspection on a new "single family dwelling" as we inspectors call them. This builder was exceptionally good. Joints in their framing were like finish work. The two brothers care about what Code had to say but always worked to exceeded it. This is the first contractor... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2012 at CODEGUY's blog
Was asked to take a look at work done by a (I’m going to say this early on) non-contractor. A tree had fallen during the early morning hours (I believe it was around 2:30 AM) on the rear sun porch of a 79 year old widow’s home during a late... Continue reading
Posted Dec 25, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
Here is a link to a free course I have on Udemy if you need to study up for the State of Wisconsin Safety and Buildings Electrical Exam. The course teaches a method that I have had great success with as I've taken 6 S&B exams and passed them... Continue reading
Posted Nov 21, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
Joe is the State Electrical Department Head type guy and he makes a point. Joe Hertel chimed in on this daily Email I get. Joe's interpretation is literal and in that sense I have to agree with it. However complying with a minimum Code is all the Code is. A... Continue reading
Posted Nov 13, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
Ever notice how when its been really dry that only the weeds grow well in your yard. Well as a plan reviewer and Inspector I can say that during this "drought" in new home construction that the "weeds" are out there and making a mess of things. Seems that the... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
From : "A Berks County contractor is being accused of defrauding 25 contractors and five homeowners out of $730,000. The Berks County District Attorney reported that John Anthony Kuvusak Jr., of John Anthony Contracting, LLC, contracted with the homeowners, accepted payments but did not pay subcontractors. On several occasions... Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
Over the past four years I have seen an interesting way that a couple of contractors have earned a little extra income. In one case it was tax free.... for a while. This technique could be considered nefarious by a district attorney. In the state where I reside there is,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
There is a vast indifference in the knowledge levels of builders and owners when it comes to construction. This vast difference sets up an unlevel playing field between builder and owner. Couple this with the fact that owners want to trust their builder. They want to believe their builder can... Continue reading
Posted Jul 16, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
Inspected a really nice home today. Was to be the final inspection but the electrician wasn't done. I wanted to leave but I drove there so I inspected what I could. That dwelling has 7 bathrooms and two laundry rooms. The general contractor said they spent close to $30grand on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 9, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
The Building Code is a minimum Code. Certain things are not required by Code. You could have a $260,000 dwelling built to Code in Wisconsin that does not have a place to hook up your garden hose on the outside of the dwelling. Gutters and downspouts are not required by... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
So an inspector's role is to point out to the various contractors what doesn't meet code. A week ago a concrete contractor had placed 6 wall brace anchors in the wrong spot. I came along for the foundation inspection and the owner was there so I pointed out the problem and called the general contractor . The general contractor had received verbal info from the guy at the lumberyard and passed it along to the foundation/concrete guy. Rather than just write up the Code violation I got on the cell phone and called the maufacturer's field rep. Had a short dicussion with him where he popinted out that you wouldn't install a Maytag dishwasher without having the instructions in front of you. I pointed out that the instructions come with Maytag Dishwashers. It was the weekend so I didn't hammer him to bad but I did secure a promise from him that he would help make it right. Granted the lumberyard guy had a catalog with all the instructions you could want and he should have showed the builder that page or even made him a copy. I argued with the manufacturer's rep that the instructions should have been in the box the anchors came in. Before I go any farther, one must realize that building and homes aren't what they use to be. To insure their structural integrity, certain metal braces and engineered fasteners are often used around huge openings and other nonconventional framing. And those engineered parts MUST be installed per the manufacturer. The above mention dwelling had six anchors improperly placed in a concrete wall. Each was rated around 4000 pounds so this was a huge problem as the concrete was hard and getting harder by the day. Funny thing happened the next day. I was browsing around a Habitat for Humanity ReStore Store and I found this box about the same size as the one that the anchors came in. It was unopened and marked Maytag. It had parts needed for the installation of a Maytag Dishwasher. I bought it for $5. Emails were sent to the Manufacturer and I kidded about the Maytag man... That next friday the "Maytag Man" showed up on the jobsite with all the builder needed to retrofit the anchors. Not a cheap bunch of parts by any means. The rep, Curt J, aka Maytag man, did an excellent job of explaining how to fix the problem and how to do it right the first time next time. Curt J. is an asset to that company which is Simpson Strongtie. That company has never been known by me to let a customer down. They understand customer service, cranky old inspectors and most importantly they know their products. We all learned something that day. I'm sure that will help the lumberyard and the builder was educated and got what he needed, (minus labor) and I got to get a final jab at the rep when I showed him that $5 box of diswasher parts with the instructions enclosed. Curt left us with full catalogs and job handbooks for the Strongtie products. Some may say that what I did was not the role of an inspector. Some may say its not the role of a highway patrolman to help change a flat tire. Well in my book if you aren't part of the solution you are part of the problem . ... and being a cranky old inspector I can get away with it... So whatever you do, do with your whole heart as working for the Lord and not for man. Col 3:23. Continue reading
Posted Jun 19, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
LET ME SAY THAT THE ANSWERS THAT THE REPLY CAME WITH WHERE IN RED, In transferring them to this blog the red color is lost but you can still find them easily enough..... personal info has been X'd out to keep this blog one of not pointing the finger but rather one where others can learn from other's mistakes. _________________________________________________ READY? Answers inserted below in red. I hope the owner at least considers complaint against the inspector's license. Open records violation lawsuits can win some $ too, but as you are both residents of that township, you would be picking your neighbor's pockets on that, so it is up to you on pursuit of that. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- From: XXXXXX [] Sent: Friday, June 03, 2011 10:11 AM To: XXXXXXXXX- COMMERCE Subject: Doing this for the home owner. Hello Mr. XXXXXX, On Wednesday and Thursday I sat through 11 hours of hearings. The owner wanted to put me on the stand, along with the Town Clerk and another inspector but the lawyer for an inspector would not let the owner do it..... rules of evidence. The Owner had fired their attorney after $8grand+ in fees. A legal mess. Questions for you and then I'll let you know the outcome. Dwelling was built in 20XX. If an inspector does a plan review and there is a walk out basement and an attached garage, do you think he should know there would be "jumps" in the footings, differences in elevations? Just from looking at the plan and elevation drawings even if the foundation plan did not show those "jumps". If the plans were properly prepared, then per Comm 20.09(4)(a)3. of that code in 20XX should have "...exterior grade, footings and foundation walls..." shown. Thus if "footings" are properly indicated on the elevation plans, then yes those jumps should clearly be shown on that plan set approved, even without correct notation on foundation floor plans. IF an inspector claims he was never called for a foundation inspection but later came out and looked at below floor plumbing to be under the basement slab before the foundation was backfilled do you think the inspector should have noted something on an inspection report about foundation issues at that time? or that he wasn't called, so he claimed even though the contractor and home owner testified they did call him..... As the 2004 UDC Commentary states on page 2004-20-57 that "Depending on construction, it is possible that the footings & foundation could be inspected along with the rough inspections discussed below." And then the next paragraph is on rough inspection and begins with "The important principal to remember is that all work must be inspected prior to concealment." Thus yes he should. Inspection reports were never received by the municipality. Those produced at the trial had no date. Inspector on stand clearly said they weren't dated after being shown each one. No papers for foundation and drain tile inspection. Others had owner's name, "OK", signature of inspector and a box or two checked for type of inspection. Would you say that is diligently doing the job? He never found a single violation and never noted not being called for the foundation inspection... NO!! The horizontal distance between footings at a "jump" was eight feet per Cooper engineering. Should the inspector have noted this during footing inspection and inquired about how that "lintel" would be incorporated into that section of foundation wall and ask for how it was going to be reinforced? It should not have been ignored entirely on plan review and inspection, clearly some where it should have been clarified to show code compliance. Smooth talking lawyer objected to Cooper's Eng fix and judge sustained the objection ........... I about died... Does ACI 318 (Comm 20.24) apply to such a long lintel as mentioned above or can it just be done by "experience" of the concrete guy who didn't know what a lintel was in his deposition? As the code has no prescriptive design stated for that, yes ACI 318 standard should have been utilized. No conditions of approval were given the permit applicant. The inspector came to get the permit application and filled out the Permit card and took the check. The Town or inspector do not have a copy of the plans. Is this negligence of the Code, a Code violation, if you will, done by those who are to enforce the Code? Since Comm 20.10(3) was added to the UDC in April of 2007, that is clearly a code violation, as well as Statute 19 violation of the open records law. Comm 5.10(1)(a)3. and 5.003(32) related codes would also be applicable to the inspector. Inspector testified as to working another job 40 hours a week, 1 1/2 hours from his home that summer. It was an interesting two days. Much more but there was a $20grand judgement against the concrete guy, the original quote he gave was under that amount, he had been paid cause he filed a lien and the owner had to get the lien removed to get long term financing. The inspector (with Mr. Smooth Talking Lawyer) was found not to be negligent and the homeowner is to pay the inspector's lawyer's fees (three "expert witnesses" there most the time and about $9 grand in previous charges) One of those expert witnesses built 1500 homes in 6 years in the Eau Claire area and only had one issue with an inspector and that was about setbacks. (Do the math, that is a home a working day). I caught up with him out in the hall and reintroduced myself and reminded him of a home he built in the Town of Howard three years ago........ But the judge in his disertation of the facts and findings before his ruling at the end of the case quoted this expert witness and the number of homes he had they are not manufactured, they are all site built..... So what do you think about the inspector? Comm 5.10(1)(a)3. and 5.003(32) related codes would also be applicable to the inspector. More "fun" stuff. One of the expert witnesses drew a sketch on the white board of the footing and foundation showing a keyway. The home owner questioned the keyway and pointed out there was none and the concrete guy agreed and finally asked Mr. Peterson P.E. (is the E for expert) ....... he never saw the footings....... The other P.Expert testified on the first morning that the lintel should have been designed by ACI 318 as should the other three which also cracked but in the afternoon he fell in line when put back on the stand to : "they are shrinkage cracks" and "performing to industry standards".... I'm sure you know this P.E. out of Rice Lake, he even said in the morning he'd charge $500 for those designs. First name was Bob (Robert) S .. So do you think the inspector did his job? No. Was he negligent? Yes. Did he do any violations of Code Comm 20.09 and 20.10 ? Many. The home owner is kind of in shock but I plan on forwarding your answer to him. The concrete contractor probably will never pay as I don't thnk he has much more than I or a pot and a window to throw it out off..... when asked about BCR he still doesn't have it and knew nothing about it even after the owner explained it to him, he said concrete guys don't need it.... The owner, by the way, is a HVAC contractor. Please let me know your "legal" position on the inspector. Maybe I've been driving and writing too much these years... "OK" and my name would not only save ink but inspection report forms too.. Even though it may get assigned to me, and I do not need more work to do, I hope someone or multiple people file complaints against this inspector's license causing an investigation of him; so that some people will get better dwellings and some judges will learn that not all inspectors are above the law [and that he can continue his full time job elsewhere & stop being a poor excuse for a building inspector - giving us all a bad name]. XXXXXX XXXXXXX The guy that did the framing saved the day and what saving could be done for the home owner. Excellent on the stand describing the foundation problems. Owner did not "prove" to the judge the inspector wasn't doing his job.... That Township fired him in early 20XX. Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
About that hearing. The owner, even though he got a $20grand judgement against the concrete guy he also got the other defendants legal fees and court costs, almost $10 grand. Add that to his own fired lawyer's $8grand+ charges and the owner got the short end of the stick. It will be very tough for him to collect on that judgement as that concrete contractor probably doesn't have a pot to go in or a window to toss it out of.... Wish you could have been there. At the end of the first day's hearings the wife had brought the couple's twin 3 month old boys and had them out in the corridor. The defendant's lawyer and the appeaser / inspector both stopped and commented how cute they were and asked their age etc. She should have slapped then both.. The morning of the first day, the plaintiff / homeowner put one of the defendant's expert witnesses on the stand and that guy clearly repeatedly stated that where the problem was should have been "designed" with calculations using ACI 318 which is adopted in the State-wide building Code . After lunch and I'm sure a short talk with the inspector/defendant's lawyer who hired him as one of three expert witnesses, the same guy took the stand and did a total flip - flop. The huge cracks that clearly indicated a structural problem that a PE had designed a fix for became "shrinkage cracks" Another "expert witness" took the stand who is a local builder. He claimed he only had one "red flag" with an inspector and that was due to a set-back issue. I caught up with him in the corridor during a break and addressed him by his first name. I then proceeded to remind him of a home he built in a municipality I inspect for and the Code violations concerning truss bearing support on that home that required a few bucks to fix.... And that guy claimed, on the stand, that he built 1500 homes in 6 years. The judge noted his testimony in his final findings of fact before he gave the verdict. Evidently the judge can't do math very well. 1500 divided by 6 = 250 or almost one new home every working day for six years.. And these were site built homes and with maybe two crews.. pretty amazing.... The guy is also a realtor. MAYBE, just maybe he's listed that many homes in 6 years but in this area that might even be pushing it. Noticed something about the other two expert witnesses. Ever notice how a young child can't look you in the eye when they are lying to you. Well two of those expert witnesses had a hard time looking up when answering the defense's lawyers questions . Those questions were all worded for simple yes or no answers. Some were leading questions but the plaintiff never objected. All in all it was a sad day in court for the 1 and 2 family dwelling Code in this State. My next blog will be a reply from a State employee concerning questions I asked Emailed him the night after the hearing was over. Be sure to read his answers. Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
Been a week now and I want to share an 11 hour hearing I sat through. I was to witness but the defendant's lawyer wouldn't let me on the stand. The Plaintiff had fired their lawyer after over $8grand in charges and them trying to settle oput of court for 1/4 of what the owner ended up getting acting pro se, so I had not been put on the witness list as neither had a couple of Township employees and another inspector. Rules of evidence trumped the truth. The outcome is interesting in that the contractor had a judgement of $20grand against him for his poor workmanship. The original bid was for $18grand. The Code related items didn't even enter into that judgement. Defendant #2 got off scott free because the plaintiff, acting as his own attorney, pro se, could not call witnesses to the stand. The inspector, defendant #2, admitted to not doing the inspection. Inspection reports he had done for other phases of construction were a joke. They weren't even dated and simply had the Owner's name, permit number, his name and "OK" written on them. He found absolutely no Code violations, not even petty stuff. He clearly stated on the stand under questioning from the owner/plaintiff that the reports were not dated or filled out... State Code is clear about the paper work to be completed by an inspector: 1. A record shall be made of each visit to a site, each inspection type performed and the pass or fail results of each inspection. 2. Approved plans shall be retained for 4 years after completion of the dwelling. 3. Applications forms, correction orders, correspondence and inspection records shall be maintained for 7 years after completion of the dwelling. The municipality had no, none, zilch records from their inspector.... but he got off because of rules of evidence. Even though he freely admitted to not doing the inspection where all the violations and sloppy work happened AND he admitted to having another full time job an 1 1/2 hour drive one way away it made no difference to the judge. The inspector charged $690 for the inspections, did not do a plan review where he should have caught the Code violations on the plans and claims he never was called for the inspection even though the owner testified he had called. Well as an inspector, had I not been called and was later called to do an inspection of another phase of construction before the previous work had been covered I would have inspected it even if I had not been called. Furthermore an inspection previous to the one that never got done would have clearly shown there was a problem waiting to happen! THE FOOTINGS WERE NOT WIDE ENOUGH FOR A FOUNDATION WALL OF THE PROPER THICKNESS ! The inspector that got off should have noted that while inspecting the footings instead of just writing "OK". The above mentioned case points out one of the biggest problems with some building inspectors. They either don't know Code or don't have the balls to enforce it. The inspector / defendant never filed records with the municipality and it took the complaints of a citizen of that municipality and an inspector to get the guy fired. He was not doing inspections, he was building his retirement account and doing appeasement. That inspector still works for several other municipalities where he serves as good ole' boy and the Father's of those municipalities like him because he's a people person. ACTUALLY HE ALLOWS BUILDERS TO SLIDE CRAP BY HOME OWNERS and the municipalities don't know the difference or don't care. So how did he get caught in the above case? The home owner is a HVAC contractor that knows a few things about other phases of construction. What is a regular home owner to do? Well with this same inspector in another municipality the home owner ended up selling her home back to the builder because it was so riddled with problems. The inspector should have been hung and would of if the plaintiff's witnesses would have been allowed to take the stand. So if you are going to hire a lawyer check them out ahead of time and direct their efforts. Make them see it through to the end and make sure they don't try to cut a deal with the opposing party. Email me at with questions. Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2011 at CODEGUY's blog
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Jun 5, 2011