Rough-in Inspection for Electrical and Plumbing 09/30/22

Sorry, no neat pictures - just documenting the inspection:

I had paid $500 for a building permit when I started back in 2016. I think the city has since changed its inspection schedule and fees because at the time, they said all the inspections were included for that price. Now they say each inspection requires its own permit ($50) and inspection ($50). There are 3 inspections after the building inspection: Electrical, Plumbing, and Mechanical. Gas is another inspection, but we don't have any gas appliances. I paid for Electrical and Plumbing this time around.

It was a very stressful event to prepare for. The Inspector is basically God - he is an unelected bureaucrat who can almost make you do anything he wants with your property. If you don't do it, he can issue a "stop work" order, and the sheriff can come in and bar you from even entering your own property. Normally, they aren't that bad, but there are horror stories out there. Your other option is to build "off grid" - somewhere outside city limits and in a place where permits are not required. Yes, they exist. They normally are in areas where you would also have to provide your own septic, electrical, and water. Our location "is what it is": we have a great piece of property, good neighbors, clean air, and we are away from the big city lights. It was meant to be.

He came out with a clip board and said not to talk to him for a few minutes while he got acclimated. He was trying to figure out what he was looking at. Then after a minute, he said, "You did this electrical yourself?"

"Yessir." And then I added (stupidly because I was nervous): "And if you say it looks good, I worked at the phone company. If you say it looks bad, I'm not an electrician."

He chuckled and then said, "it's fine." He didn't ask much else for a while - just looked around at the wiring. Then he got busy asking about GFCI outlets in the kitchen, told me our city didn't care about AFCI breakers for the bedrooms, asked me how I planned on covering the wiring in the log walls. I told him with insulation, then nails in front of the insulation, then chink on the nails. The wiring shouldn't come in contact with chink. He grunted an approval.

He took issue with the small 3x3 window in the master bedroom (too small for fire code), until I pointed out that there was an exterior door in the bedroom, so then he nodded approval. In the second bedroom, he thought maybe the 3x4 window was too small and wanted to measure it. I couldn't remember the fire code requirements for the dimensions, so he asked me "is it 5.7 square feet?" I said yes. But I went and looked it up because that sounded bigger than the dimensions I knew for this window: the clear opening is 34"x22", which is 748 sq inches, or 5.19 sq ft - but there's an exception for "grade level" (first floor) windows where it only has to be 5.0 sq ft, so we meet fire code.

He didn't really care about placement of the outlets - just that we had them and there seemed to be enough. Didn't care about the lights much. Didn't want to climb up and look at any of my ceiling fans, especially the one 20 feet up in the living room.

He moved onto plumbing. He admired the main manifold and the pex tubing, asked me how much I paid for it - the manifold should have been $300, but it was an "open box" on Ebay, so I got it for $60. "Nice," he said. He went upstairs to where the water heater would be located - he wants a 3/4" emergency drain pipe for it that exits the home. Then he looked at the venting system for the upstairs bathroom - and decided he didn't like the way the 3" tee was installed - thought it was upside down. I admitted I probably messed that up. He asked if I had pressure tested the system - yes, I bought a bunch of plugs and siliconed caps onto the drain tees, then filled the whole thing with water and watched for leaks. He was satisfied with that: "Normally, I'd need to see that, but you obviously care about this home more than I do, so you don't want it leaking, so I'll trust you."

Then he went downstairs and asked where our fire alarms were. Oops! I admitted we hadn't even thought of that. He said the requirement is one inside the door of each bedroom, and one just outside a group of bedrooms, and then one upstairs (we are not going to finish the upstairs at this point, so we just need one fire alarm for the upstairs area). He said the alarms have to be hardwired (on AC power), and they have to all be on the same circuit. I looked it up online and found I can use an existing wiring run and not use up another breaker slot. And I need 3-conductor wiring - of which I already have a leftover roll.

He thought the hallway wall that runs directly under the girder log should be set on 16" centers, but I reminded him that none of the framed walls are structural, so code says 24" centers are fine. He agreed, but then wanted me to send the engineered structural report to the city offices. Luckily, my engineer had already produced a 45-page report for the structure of this cabin. I just need to find it in my email....

Outside, I told him my plans for the sewer line to the road, and the buried electrical. He poked his head under the house, liked what he saw, and then told me to call him when I get the mechanical (which includes bathroom exhaust fans and the HVAC system) roughed in.


I think it went well. I just need to make the small changes - upside down sanitary tee, drain for hot water heater, and run fire alarms. He wants to look at the electrical one more time once I have the fire alarms installed, and the run for the air conditioning (which needs to include an outlet), then we're good.