I had a ridiculously frustrating conversation with a building official from a local city recently (I won't say which - I'm licensed in six cities). I called Mr. Building Official to argue about a permit that he approved, but I ended up backing down after I talked to him. Here's the story.
While performing a Truth in Sale of Housing Evaluation at a property, I marked the exhaust for the high-efficiency furnace was too close to the mechanical air intake. The furnace had just been installed, and the owner hadn't had the City out yet to inspect the furnace. I showed the homeowner the installation manual for the furnace, which demonstrated exactly why it was improperly installed.
The owner called the installers and told them about the improper installation, but the installers suggested he wait until the City inspector came out to look at the furnace. The installers obviously knew something I didn't. The City inspector came out, discussed the installation with the seller, said the installation was fine, and approved the permit.
The owner was now obviously stuck in the middle - I'm telling him one thing, and the City is telling him another thing. We're always supposed to be on the same page! To get us on the same page, well, really to get Mr. Building Official on my page, I called to convince him that I was right. Unfortunately, he completely agreed with me. I had the whole conversation planned out... and it didn't matter! He told me about having the exact same conversation with his superiors a long time ago, but was told to back down on the issue. There are so many houses that have this same improper installation, he was told to just let it go.
As a Truth in Housing Evaluator, I'm acting as a sub-contractor for the city. I'm supposed to be calling out the defects that they want called out, not calling out what is right or wrong... so I let it go. Instead of rating this defect as a "B" - Below Minimum Requirements, I changed my rating to a "C" - Comment. When the home is sold, maybe the buyers will hire an inspector that doesn't like the installation either and tells them to change it. When I'm acting as a private inspector, I can recommend whatever I want.
Click here for details on the Improper Furnace Installation.
Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections