Advise needed on working with city inspectors

2 Replies


We recently asked for fire retrofit inspection of our building as it is needed for refinance, some of the units didn't pass audibility test, so we added wireless interconnected (battery-operated) alarms into the units, but fire inspectors require hardwired interconnected smoke alarms or horns to be added to each unit, which was estimated at over $5000 on electrician work.

We asked them to check with fire marshall, who said wireless interconnected (battery-operated) alarms are alternative solutions, but fire inspector still disapproves what we did because they don't feel comfortable about battery-operated alarms. 

They also required us to get build permit for some drywall work in the fire order, while the build department said we don't need build permit for it. 

Besides accepting whatever comes from the inspector and taking the more costly solution, do you have any advise on how we should move this forward? 

Have you heard of anybody who succeeded in working with city inspectors? And what approach did they use? Thank you, appreciate your input.

@Minna Hu I am sorry to hear about your experience with the local inspectors.  I have investment properties in Berwyn and Lyons which are both suburbs of Chicago, and both towns have very tough inspectors. It can be a pain working in highly regulated areas, but the flip side of the coin is that they truly are concerned about safety and improving the neighborhood, so values will probably go up in these areas too. 

Most of the work needs to be done on the front end when looking at a property to make sure you won't run into costly issues down the road. I actually just had to walk from a five unit in Lyons because one of the structures was non conforming, and the town was requiring it be torn down! 

Once you own the property, I feel the only thing you can do is comply. I would recommend spending as much "face time" as you can at the inspectors office. I have found that this creates a lot of good will when you finally do get around to getting inspections done. 

Best to have a discussion with the inspector(s) before doing work.  Sounds like your locale is like mine in that almost any work will require the building be retrofitted with hard wired, interconnected smoke detectors.  A conversation before doing the work would have revealed these requirements.  Have you examined the actual codes your locale uses?  Does it allow the battery, wireless smokes?  Does the locale have an ordnance that specifies stricter requirements?  If the relevant code allows the wireless smokes and the city doesn't have a stricter ordnance, you might be able to convince the inspector.   If your out of compliance with codes and ordnances then you're likely stuck.  Safety items like this are usually one area where inspectors are very strict.

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