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  • New guy dealing with county building inspectors

    Working on doing a self install of a 10kw grid tied system.

    Running into problems with my local county building inspectors.

    At first they told me that I had to be a licensed electrician, when I asked to see the code stating that they have backed off that now and say I must be "qualified". Now they want me to submit a "resume" to prove that I am qualified. They must be the only county in the world that holds job interviews so you can install your own solar.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with these bureaucrats?

    Thanks
    John

  • #2
    Originally posted by jcoop View Post
    Working on doing a self install of a 10kw grid tied system.

    Running into problems with my local county building inspectors.

    At first they told me that I had to be a licensed electrician, when I asked to see the code stating that they have backed off that now and say I must be "qualified". Now they want me to submit a "resume" to prove that I am qualified. They must be the only county in the world that holds job interviews so you can install your own solar.

    Any suggestions on how to deal with these bureaucrats?

    Thanks
    John
    Actually every county in Florida requires the Contractor to be a licensed electrician with a certification for a solar install. Makes it hard to perform a DIY unless you have those qualifications.

    Oh by the way. Welcome to Solar Panel Talk
    Last edited by SunEagle; 11-04-2015, 02:56 PM. Reason: added welcome

    Comment


    • #3
      They can be a pain on some things, it's the path of least resistance. Mine had no jurisdiction, but wanted a structural load survey. It was easier to comply rather than fight with them and be done with them.


      Florida law requires that permits be issued to licensed contractors. There is an exception to this law that allows property owners to obtain permits in their own name if they occupy a property for their own use. Properties that are for sale, lease, rent, occupied by people other than the owner, or owned as investments do not qualify for this exception. Mobile home move-on permits can only be issued to licensed mobile home installation contractors. If you are an owner who wants a permit to do work yourself instead of hiring a professional contractor, click the links below for shortcuts to helpful information and forms you will need:

      http://www.coj.net/departments/plann...ting-page.aspx

      Comment


      • #4
        Should have added

        In Northern California,

        Home owner trying to obtain permits in my own name for use on my property.

        Feel I am qualified, 35 years working with electricity most every day.

        John

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Willy T View Post
          Florida law requires that permits be issued to licensed contractors. There is an exception to this law that allows property owners to obtain permits in their own name if they occupy a property for their own use. Properties that are for sale, lease, rent, occupied by people other than the owner, or owned as investments do not qualify for this exception. Mobile home move-on permits can only be issued to licensed mobile home installation contractors. If you are an owner who wants a permit to do work yourself instead of hiring a professional contractor, click the links below for shortcuts to helpful information and forms you will need:

          http://www.coj.net/departments/plann...ting-page.aspx
          What I am referring to is the need to have a certification to install solar. This is a requirement above and beyond just getting a permit to work on your house. See the attached link.

          Florida Solar Licensing

          Comment


          • #6
            I was just looking at the latest statistics from 2013 from the NFPA on causes of fire. Over 37,000 reported fires in the USA caused by wiring and another 45,000 from electrical usage (includes appliances etc.) There is good reason for the electrical trade to be controlled, licensed, and regulated. Solar is especially dangerous in a residential install and (nothing personal), but you would be well advised to have a professional at least involved and looking over what you do. There are lots of little details that are important to get right and its worth extra cost to avoid those mistakes. Just have a look through this forum of all the bonehead, ignorant ideas and practices that newbies come up with and you'll see why inspectors are hard on non-licensed electricians.

            btw, there were no statistics on solar related fires, but I've only heard of a few fires due to solar (they are well documented in the solar magazines). I maintain that if the NFPA were as equally concerned about safety from open flame as they are in solar electric systems, they would ban the use of open flame in cooking as that caused 172,000 fires. Maybe mandate sprinkler systems, or rapid shutdown devices, or other economically unfeasible solutions.
            BSEE, R11, NABCEP, >1200kW installed

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by SunEagle View Post
              What I am referring to is the need to have a certification to install solar. This is a requirement above and beyond just getting a permit to work on your house.
              And not applicable to the OP who's here in Northern CA.

              We don't have such a requirement here.

              Here's info on owner-builders in CA:
              http://www.cslb.ca.gov/Consumers/Bui..._Overview.aspx

              And the code citation that you can provide to the AHJ:
              http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/business...sect-7044.html

              (So glad I don't live in an over-regulated state like Florida.)

              I'd start over with the AHJ - "Hi - lets start over. I am planning to install solar. As an owner-builder I'll be pulling the permit myself and any work I have done for me will be done by licensed contractors. I haven't decided who I'll be hiring for subcontractors for the various items. What requirements do you have for solar permits? Do you need a single-line or a 3-line diagram? I assume you want cut-sheets for the components that will be installed? What else do you require to issue a permit? I found this example that City of Santa Clara provides as what they want to see - http://santaclaraca.gov/home/showdocument?id=1666 ; And that's what I was planning on using as a template, but if you have additional requirements, I'd rather address them before I do a plan review so I don't waste your time."

              "As an owner-builder, I am entitled to pull a permit for my own home that I've been living in and will be living in for the next few years. If you want to look at section 7044, you can see that I am not required to have a contractors license. Of course I'll be making sure everything is up to code - I certainly don't want any extra risk to the house that I'm sleeping in."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jcoop View Post
                In Northern California,

                Home owner trying to obtain permits in my own name for use on my property.

                Feel I am qualified, 35 years working with electricity most every day.
                That does not make you qualified to do anything. Just means you are a Hack and a Pretender in their eyes. Jurisdictions can make any rules they see fit. They do not need your permission. Many cities and communities require you to have a license, some do not. Most jurisdictions that issue license have minimum requirements like 2 year degree, minimum 5 year documented work experience (pay stubs), and pass a written exam. Other areas that are corrupt like Chicago, Detroit, NYC, LA, San Fran are controlled by Unions have Union reps that cruise the city looking for any signs of construction. When found they check to see if you havee a permit and using Union labor If not they call local law enforcement to come shut you down. You have to have a permit using Union Labor or you go to jail.

                Depends on where you live. Some place like in Arkansas and Tennessee rural areas have no requirements or even a Building Code Dept of any kind. Any hack can do work, makes no difference if they know what they are doing or not. Ask Slick Willy.

                There are two rules you must know in order to deal with Inspectors and Wives. Never forget them or you will be one sorry SOB.

                1. Inspector and Wives are ALWAYS CORRECT.
                2 When Inspector or Wife is wrong, refer to rule 1.

                Failure to comply will land you in court for a very expensive education.
                MSEE, PE

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                  Jurisdictions can make any rules they see fit.
                  They can - but usually they follow the state's lead. And usually the inspector is NOT the one making rules - they may make recommendations, but normally it is a government body that actually makes the rules (city council, county board, etc)

                  They do not need your permission. Many cities and communities require you to have a license, some do not.
                  I believe that most places do not - most places in the US have something like the owner-builder rule.
                  The US has a tradition of people building and improving their own homes. And disallowing that is usually not politically popular.

                  Most jurisdictions that issue license have minimum requirements like 2 year degree, minimum 5 year documented work experience (pay stubs), and pass a written exam.
                  That's licenses - separate from permits.

                  Other areas that are corrupt like Chicago, Detroit, NYC, LA, San Fran are controlled by Unions have Union reps that cruise the city looking for any signs of construction. When found they check to see if you havee a permit and using Union labor If not they call local law enforcement to come shut you down. You have to have a permit using Union Labor or you go to jail.
                  Not familiar with the laws in those other cities, but LA and SF certainly allows owner-builder.
                  http://sfdbi.org/owner-builder-permit
                  http://ladbs.org/LADBSWeb/owner-builder.jsf

                  Looks like Chicago too:
                  http://www.cityofchicago.org/content...ibilty2011.pdf

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by foo1bar View Post
                    They can - but usually they follow the state's lead. And usually the inspector is NOT the one making rules - they may make recommendations, but normally it is a government body that actually makes the rules (city council, county board, etc)


                    I believe that most places do not - most places in the US have something like the owner-builder rule.
                    The US has a tradition of people building and improving their own homes. And disallowing that is usually not politically popular.


                    That's licenses - separate from permits.


                    Not familiar with the laws in those other cities, but LA and SF certainly allows owner-builder.
                    http://sfdbi.org/owner-builder-permit
                    http://ladbs.org/LADBSWeb/owner-builder.jsf

                    Looks like Chicago too:
                    http://www.cityofchicago.org/content...ibilty2011.pdf
                    I understand what you are trying to say, but in the real world it is lip service. The drawings, calculations, method of work are all hoops the HO cannot likely jump through. Example in Chicago all electrical wiring must be installed in a approved raceway aka EMT.

                    It is like the Federal Marijuana Stamp. To grow ganja legally you must have a federal Tax Stamp just like alcohol or tobacco. There is no process to obtain the Tax Stamp to grow ganja legally. Local Jurisdiction can amend any and all NEC or state requirements they want.You are right the city goberment must be approve, but in practice is lip service because the mayor or councilmen are not qualified to make codes. They can tell the Code Enforcement agency to allow HO's to do their own work if they can jump through all the hoops the permit department requires. Very few if any HO's can meet those requirements.

                    Its a game. Some rules are in place to protect the public at large. While other rules are put in place to protect labor like stamped engineering drawings, calculations, material list, and method of procedure. The OP is learning this fact right now as his building department is throwing up every obstacle to prevent him from doing his own work. Today it is a Resume, tomorrow stamped building plans, next day local amendments to the code which takes a pro to accomplish in a safe workmanship like manner. Bet you a dollar the OP lives in a Democrat controlled community with strong Union membership.

                    If you were to actually look at one of the documents you linked to says it loud and clear that the city will do everything they can to STOP you from DIY. Just look in big bold letters is STOP. They are warning you to not even try. Do so at you rown risk because in the end it will cost you more in money and cash than to hire someone. Yep the city told the building dept to allow it, and the building department said FU, we will make it impossible for Joe HO.
                    MSEE, PE

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by foo1bar View Post
                      They can - but usually they follow the state's lead. And usually the inspector is NOT the one making rules - they may make recommendations, but normally it is a government body that actually makes the rules (city council, county board, etc)


                      I believe that most places do not - most places in the US have something like the owner-builder rule.
                      The US has a tradition of people building and improving their own homes. And disallowing that is usually not politically popular.


                      That's licenses - separate from permits.


                      Not familiar with the laws in those other cities, but LA and SF certainly allows owner-builder.
                      http://sfdbi.org/owner-builder-permit
                      http://ladbs.org/LADBSWeb/owner-builder.jsf

                      Looks like Chicago too:
                      http://www.cityofchicago.org/content...ibilty2011.pdf
                      By law Owner-builders may be allowed to "apply" for a permit but that doesn't mean they can always provide "all" of the required documentation to "receive" that permit.

                      Putting up a solar pv system can be a little more complicated then putting up a shed in your backyard or even adding a room onto the home.

                      There is also the POCO that needs to be satisfied which IMO can be more strict then an AHJ in some places.

                      It would be nice if the experienced home owner was able to perform a DIY installation but when you connect to the grid you have to raise the bar on qualification and experience of the person doing the work. It comes down to safety.

                      Heck, except for the legal "classifications" for Florida I have enough "hands on experience" to perform a DIY solar project. But the rules are pretty clear and until they change I will abide by them.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SunEagle View Post
                        What I am referring to is the need to have a certification to install solar. This is a requirement above and beyond just getting a permit to work on your house. See the attached link.

                        Florida Solar Licensing
                        I could be wrong, but I believe that is for a "contractor." It states those working under the contractor does not need to be licensed. I believe a home owner should be able pull the permit and do it, but even if it applied to Florida, it does not apply to everywhere.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 8.4 View Post
                          I could be wrong, but I believe that is for a "contractor." It states those working under the contractor does not need to be licensed. I believe a home owner should be able pull the permit and do it, but even if it applied to Florida, it does not apply to everywhere.
                          While I agree that a home owner should be able to pull any permit each jurisdiction may have a different set of rules as to what is needed to be submitted with the application.

                          It could involve data for wind loading or snow loading of the roof structure as well as a single line of the electrical connection. Sometimes a hand drawn picture is enough. Other times it requires the full calculations on a stamped drawing.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One further variation found in some states is that an owner can pull a permit for electrical, plumbing, remodel or any other type of permitted construction, BUT all work under that permit must be done by the owner. No subcontractors or even day laborers allowed on the project.
                            SunnyBoy 3000 US, 18 BP Solar 175B panels.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Our POCO requires a licensed contractor for solar even though the local building depts allow a homeowner to do their own electrical....
                              BSEE, R11, NABCEP, >1200kW installed

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