mechanical permit and building safety inspection

9 Replies

I own a house that I rent out to a couple. A City Code Compliance Specialist came to my rental unit and told me the direct–vent wall-heater was installed without a plumbing gas permit. He told me to obtain a mechanical permit and building safety inspection for the heater and have a licensed contractor conduct the work per California state law. He said this is to ensure the heater and gas line are installed per code and are safe to operate.

I have owned this house almost 4 years but the wall-heater was there before I purchased the house. It looks like it's been there for a long time. I feel like the City inspector is being unfair to me as I didn't install the wall-heater. Why wasn't the previous owner or the owner who installed the wall-heater asked to obtain a permit?

Do I have any grounds to complain to the City Planning Department to being told to get a permit, have a licensed contractor test it and have it inspected?

I would appreciate any advice on this matter. Thank you, Abe

The inspector is almost certainly within his rights to require a permit.  Even though it was there when you moved in they can require you to get permits and inspections.  Its your property now, so its your problem.   At one point I took back a property from a failed fix and flip and ended up trenching the finished basement and tearing open walls to allow for inspections of work that had been done long, long ago.  Nothing like piles of dirt on carpets and brand new tiles being jack hammered out to make your day.

Thank you Jon for your reply. A city inspector did an inspection of the unit in 2015 and sent me a letter stating the rental property is in compliance with the City Residential Rental Inspection Program. The inspector didn't site the wall heater issue during the inspection. Do I have any rights regarding the previous inspection? Can I ask if they made an error during the 2015 inspection? Thanks, Abe

What city is this in? I had the very same problem (in Michigan). Purchased a home, had to get a mechanical inspection of the venting from the HVAC. Paid for the inspection then also paid an "approved" electrician to come out and inspect. He inspected and ended up needing to do about $600 in work to re-vent. THEN had to pay the city to come out and reinspect whereby he noted the deck panels were not secured. Failed inspection and will have to pay again for another visit in the future. All in all, multiple visits for mostly piddly items totaling a lot of money. ugh. 

@Abe Mazliach While this seems like something to possibly try to get out of, I look at it this way, they may be saving you a lot of pain and money down the road. What you don't want, is a heater that leaks carbon monoxide into the unit and hurts somebody or worse. It will be worth the cost of getting the permit, having it inspected/repaired by licensed folks, then you can at least say you did all that you could in the event something goes wrong. Obviously the heater worked fine before, and many times cities are doing this to produce new fee revenue, but I say do the work, in the long run it will be safer.

Thank you for your reply Courtney. The house is in Santa Cruz, CA. Of course, that's exactly what I am worried about, the costs involved. Depending on the outcome of the inspections and any repairs needed, it may be better to replace the old heater.