Help Convincing Inspectors They Are Wrong About Code?

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jba

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Hi All,
Desperately wanting to have my final final on a whole house redo that I've been too many years working on. Failed my final plumbing with a list of small things I've already fixed and one big problem: the inspector says my shower fails under UPC 408.6 because you cannot fit a 30" diameter circle in the shower area.

I built this shower stall on a Tile Redi 30"x60" receptor and believe that I am exempt from that 30" diameter circle requirement under Exception 2 which states "The minimum required area and dimension shall not apply for a shower receptor having overall dimensions of not less than 30 inches in width and 60” in length.” This exception exists to allow folks to pull out a standard built in tub and replace it with a shower stall.

To my ears the english of the code and my situation is plain and simply: my receptor is 30"x60" overall and therefore the 30" diameter rule doesn't apply. You can NEVER fit a 30" diameter into ANY receptor that is 30"x60" overall because of the way the measurement is done... you lose half the dam width at a minimum!

So, my question is how do I convince the county (King County... I'm in Seattle) that they are wrong? My local inspector talked with one Chief Inspector who backed him up, astoundingly. I have a call out to the other Chief Inspector. Am I wrong here, can someone explain why? Is there a legal hammer I can bring to bear on them if I am in the right code-wise.

I'm so frustrated... trying to do this entire project the right way with all inspections but I am ready to withdraw my permits, ask for my money back, and walk away. Don't plan to sell this house any time soon or maybe ever.

I've attached a pic of the shower and also the code.

Help!

Jonathan
 

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wwhitney

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So what do they say when you say "the exception covers my situation"? How do they construe the exception and what example can they give of a situation it would cover?

Cheers, Wayne
 

jba

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Hi Wayne,
The only one I've been able to have this conversation with is the local inspector. He says "I hear what you are saying, but I can't pass it unless the Chief Inspectors give me the ok". He acknowledges Exception 2 but says the 30" diameter rule still applies, which clearly it cannot the way the measurement is done. And to my surprise, one of the Chief Inspectors agreed with him when they discussed it. The other Chief Inspector has received all my documentation and photos via email, before the weekend, but is so far not getting back to me. If I am wrong they really need to explain to my why and how!
-jba
 

John Gayewski

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For some reason it seems like someone is not getting the right combination of words to have this click in their brain. I would try talking to the head inspector. Just say "my receptor is not less than 30"x60". The exemption covers receptors not less than 30"x60". How am I not covered?

Other than that you'll have to find out who you can appeal to. City council or judge. Or just move forward without them and let them push it to where it needs to go.
 

jba

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For some reason it seems like someone is not getting the right combination of words to have this click in their brain. I would try talking to the head inspector. Just say "my receptor is not less than 30"x60". The exemption covers receptors not less than 30"x60". How am I not covered?

Other than that you'll have to find out who you can appeal to. City council or judge. Or just move forward without them and let them push it to where it needs to go.
Thanks John,
They all seem like reasonable and friendly people, so far. I think you're right, something is just not clicking. I will hopefully get a phone call and use your wording exactly!!
Cheers,
Jonathan
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Exception 2: The minimum required area and dimensions shall not apply for a shower receptor having overall dimensions of not less than 30 inches in width and 60 inches in length.

The illustrated training manual backs up the case that exception 2 is exactly and clearly for the reason of replacing a tub/shower with a shower in the exact same footprint.

For what its worth, we've had some new plumbing inspectors for Sea/KingCo and I'm not certain that all of them have worked as plumbers. I've had some hour long discussions over the phone with one inspector about their misinterpretation of code. In this case I think you will
20230426_120907.jpg
 
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jba

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Exception 2: The minimum required area and dimensions shall not apply for a shower receptor having overall dimensions of not less than 30 inches in width and 60 inches in length.

The illustrated training manual backs up the case that exception 2 is exactly and clearly for the reason of replacing a tub/shower with a shower in the exact same footprint.

For what its worth, we've had some new plumbing inspectors for Sea/KingCo and I'm not certain that all of them have worked as plumbers. I've had some hour long discussions over the phone with one inspector about their misinterpretation of code. In this case I think you will View attachment 92081
Thanks for the moral and code support Tuttles... sometimes right now I'm wishing I'd kept the tub so I could dissolve myself down the side-sewer and be done with it :). Now, if I can just get my Chief Inspector to call me back....
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Getting calls back is really difficult. I'm sure they get hounded a LOT. I find that its best to call the help desk first thing in the morning like around 6:30-7 but before 8am when the inspectors are headed out the door..

Usually when I'm going over the head of my assigned inspector we deal with one of the Senior inspectors. I have had to escelate a few time to the chief inspector to get exemptions from code and once to complain about one inspector.. who happened to be filling in for the chief inspector the day that I called to complain..
 

Jeff H Young

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I cant see how an inspector can make a homeowner tear out and redo a complete shower even if it didnt comply the hardship on a person to have to redo this work is too much vs the harm of not complying. plus the fact it does comply to the code due to the exception , no mention that inspector needs to agree with the exeption
 

Tuttles Revenge

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I cant see how an inspector can make a homeowner tear out and redo a complete shower even if it didnt comply the hardship on a person to have to redo this work is too much vs the harm of not complying. plus the fact it does comply to the code due to the exception , no mention that inspector needs to agree with the exeption.
All they need to do is not sign off your final on a project and eventually the city/county will condemn the property. My sister never got her plumbing final and 20yrs later the county told her that she had to get her final or the property would be condemned.

The shower needs to comply with the code.. And in this case the code has an exemption for the exact scenario that the OP described. The fact that the inspector either didn't know or understand the exception or wasn't willing to recognize the intention of the exception leads to to believe we have an inspector that is not willing to learn... And I have a feeling I know exactly which inspector we're talking about.
 

Jeff H Young

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All they need to do is not sign off your final on a project and eventually the city/county will condemn the property. My sister never got her plumbing final and 20yrs later the county told her that she had to get her final or the property would be condemned.

The shower needs to comply with the code.. And in this case the code has an exemption for the exact scenario that the OP described. The fact that the inspector either didn't know or understand the exception or wasn't willing to recognize the intention of the exception leads to to believe we have an inspector that is not willing to learn... And I have a feeling I know exactly which inspector we're talking about .
I understand the old saying you cant fight the government. And I too said he meets code because code gives him a exception.
What I dont undertand is why the inspector wont sign the card . might be he just likes throwing weight around , there are a lot of fair inspectors too


 

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Do you have the company name or any paper work from the manufacture that that unit meets any type of code. If it is possible to call them, a letter that the unit meets UPC 408.6.

You might have to hire a building or plumbing engineer to file a letter stating that it meets code, etc.

408.1 Application


Manufactured shower receptors and shower bases shall comply with ASME A112.19.1/CSA B45.2, ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1, ASME A112.19.3/CSA B45.4, CSA B45.12/IAPMO 2402, or CSA B45.5/IAPMO Z124.
 

Jeff H Young

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Hi All,
Desperately wanting to have my final final on a whole house redo that I've been too many years working on. Failed my final plumbing with a list of small things I've already fixed and one big problem: the inspector says my shower fails under UPC 408.6 because you cannot fit a 30" diameter circle in the shower area.

I built this shower stall on a Tile Redi 30"x60" receptor and believe that I am exempt from that 30" diameter circle requirement under Exception 2 which states "The minimum required area and dimension shall not apply for a shower receptor having overall dimensions of not less than 30 inches in width and 60” in length.” This exception exists to allow folks to pull out a standard built in tub and replace it with a shower stall.

To my ears the english of the code and my situation is plain and simply: my receptor is 30"x60" overall and therefore the 30" diameter rule doesn't apply. You can NEVER fit a 30" diameter into ANY receptor that is 30"x60" overall because of the way the measurement is done... you lose half the dam width at a minimum!

So, my question is how do I convince the county (King County... I'm in Seattle) that they are wrong? My local inspector talked with one Chief Inspector who backed him up, astoundingly. I have a call out to the other Chief Inspector. Am I wrong here, can someone explain why? Is there a legal hammer I can bring to bear on them if I am in the right code-wise.

I'm so frustrated... trying to do this entire project the right way with all inspections but I am ready to withdraw my permits, ask for my money back, and walk away. Don't plan to sell this house any time soon or maybe ever.

I've attached a pic of the shower and also the code.

Help!

Jonathan
I hope you follow up with informing us Jonathon on out come and process you are following, I think youll prevail It really aggravates me your story. Some suggestions made you seem articulate only thing I can think of is work your way up the chain , everyone has a boss (I think).
 

Taylorjm

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Do you have the company name or any paper work from the manufacture that that unit meets any type of code. If it is possible to call them, a letter that the unit meets UPC 408.6.

You might have to hire a building or plumbing engineer to file a letter stating that it meets code, etc.

408.1 Application


Manufactured shower receptors and shower bases shall comply with ASME A112.19.1/CSA B45.2, ASME A112.19.2/CSA B45.1, ASME A112.19.3/CSA B45.4, CSA B45.12/IAPMO 2402, or CSA B45.5/IAPMO Z124.

This is probably the best way. Hire a plumber to be there for the next inspection. There are many inspectors that will do everything possible to not pass a project completed by a homeowner. They just don't want the hassle of handholding. Now if there's a local plumber that looks at it and gives his approval, you could have that plumber call the inspector and tell him it's ok. You wouldn't believe how much farther and faster it gets approved.
 

Jeff H Young

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This is probably the best way. Hire a plumber to be there for the next inspection. There are many inspectors that will do everything possible to not pass a project completed by a homeowner. They just don't want the hassle of handholding. Now if there's a local plumber that looks at it and gives his approval, you could have that plumber call the inspector and tell him it's ok. You wouldn't believe how much farther and faster it gets approved.
I think you didnt read what happened this isnt hand holding and telling him how it needs to be done .
I would not hire or pay anyone but would keep after the building department bring my documentation iapmo , perhaps call tile redi and ask them what documents might help. Ive never called or heard of a plumber calling a plumbing inspector and telling the inspector its all good come back and sign the card
 

jba

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Hi All!
Somehow I didn't receive notifications of these recent posts to my thread... sorry I haven't responded! I just logged-on now to give an update and not-quite-close the story, but hopefully soon.

First, I've decided not to name any names: local inspector, senior inspectors, and (as you'll see) further on up the chain. I misunderstood the hierarchy earlier and said "chief inspector" when really I was dealing with "senior inspectors".

To recap, my local inspector felt the shower should comply with the 30" diameter circle dimension in UPC 408.6. After reading the code myself I felt I qualified for Exception 2. In fact, my Tile Redi product is called a "Bathtub Replacement™ Shower Pan" and has all sorts of relevant certifications. My local inspector called one senior inspector while I initiated an email conversation with the other. One said that the 30" diameter dimension still applies, when the exception clearly says it doesn't. The other responded to me via email that "Exception 2 is only for bathtub/shower combinations" which is a ludicrous answer if you look at the wording of the code and also the explanation in the UPC training manual.

So I kicked it up the chain and started an email conversation with a Deputy Chief Inspector. I was hopeful as he immediately asked the right questions and wanted documentation of the receptor I had installed. I sent him pictures of the rough-in, the finished shower, my invoice for the receptor, and the spec. sheet for the receptor which shows the overall dimensions are 30"x60".

Just yesterday afternoon I received an email from this Deputy Chief Inspector saying that he agreed with my interpretation of the code and had talked to the Senior Inspectors about it and that I no longer had to worry about the dimension of my shower. Hallelujah, right! Except... in the conversation with the Senior Inspectors they (who have never been to the site) brought up a couple of additional code issues. Here's the relevant email section:

Hi Jonathan,

I agree with your interpretation of UPC 408.6 Exception #2 and have discussed this with our senior inspectors. The physical size of your shower enclosure will no longer be an issue.

They did bring up a couple of other potential Code compliance issues however:

UPC 408.3 – shower valve shall comply with ASSE 1016. They said they could not verify compliance. Do you have photographic evidence showing the shower valve is ASSE 1016 compliant? Do you have a make/model and listing number?
UPC 408.9 – “Control valves and showerheads shall be located…or otherwise arranged…so that the bather can adjust the valves before stepping into the shower spray.”. By having a fixed glass panel at the control valve side of the shower stall, it’s hard to see how a person of average stature might adjust the temperature without actually standing inside of the shower compartment. Would it be possible to convert this to a sliding door, or otherwise arrange the opening to be compliant with UPC 408.9?

Let me know if you have any follow up questions about these two issues.

It's hard for me not to interpret this response from the Senior Inspectors as punitive. The shower unit is a fancy-pants Grohe Thermostatic Shower System. There is no buried mixer in the wall. I have a printout of the spec sheet that shows this shower meets ASSE 1016. I should be good there. The UPC 408.9 issue was not something my local inspector, the only one who has been on-site, brought up in his inspection. Since this is a rain shower you can step into the shower receptor and adjust the temperature without "stepping into the shower spray." I'm trying to get him back here tomorrow for another pass at the final inspection, and have offered to demonstrate this fully-clothed. What else can I do!? :)

My fear is that one of the Senior Inspectors will decide to make a visit instead and wrack-up a list of small hoops they want me to jump through, or maybe decide to never pass me out of spite. Perhaps I'm being a bit paranoid?

Hoping for the best, will keep you posted, and thanks!
Jonathan
 

WorthFlorida

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The glass part, if you had frameless glass installed, the glass panel and door usually can be reversed. Or remove the glass and temporarily install a shower curtain.
 

John Gayewski

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I think if you walk into the shower and turn it on fully clothed it would be hard to argue that is non compliant.
 

jba

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The story's end: passed the Final, finally. The County made me promise to never plumb again, though :cool:

The local inspector was cool with the realities on the ground, and about the whole thing. He maintains that he's never seen a shower that narrow before which leads me to believe that no one pulls a permit for small bathroom remodels.

Thanks everyone for your support and suggestions!
 
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