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Is anyone else getting disgusted with their townships over reach into home improvement? I recently looked into my townships permitting requirements for a particular job and found out that at some point they made virtually all DIY projects require a permit. In my opinion this is totally outrageous. Replace a faucet or toilet, get a permit. Put new flooring in your kitchen, a permit is needed. Replace an existing light fixture, you're supposed to get a permit. This has gone way beyond safety issues in my opinion and is a matter of padding the twp. coffers. Needless to say, for most of this stuff they can KMA. Give these local yocal politicians an inch and they see dollar signs. Got no use for them at all. And they sneak this stuff in when no one is paying attention.
 

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They have gone overboard. But realize there are people who would wire a dozen 50 amp ovens to a 60 amp service. And every year fires are caused by idiots plugging 7 appliances into a single 15 amp line. A plumber tells me of a boob that connected a gas line to his shower water supply. Decks have collapsed because some fool put 30,000 pounds stress on two pine 4x4s. I got a ration of crap because I used 12 ga wire for a microwave receptacle. Wire was too heavy he said. That made absolutely no sense to me.
 

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An elderly family member overloads her circuits by 10 amps and asks me why she has lights flickering when electric heaters kick on . I explain the problem , but she refuses to believe it . I give up .
 

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I am all for DIY home projects but think anything over changing out receptacles and lamps should be done by professionals. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I have seen people in older buildings where knob and tube wiring
is present just tap into the wires and intermingle it with grounded systems, usually with bad results.
I had a buddy install a light outside his deck and blew out 3 TVs before he asked for help, its a good thing he didn't burn down his house.
It also becomes dangerous for the poor [censored] who has to come in and work on their work.

We have a lot of power outages due to downed trees and snow/ice sometimes lasting days. The way some have portable generators wired into their panel box its no wonder someone does not get killed, especially the guys out trying to re-establish power to their home.

Electricity is not difficult to understand but caution needs to be used. This is one of the main reasons the townships are tightening up on the regs. You can't even put a PVC shed without a building permit, following setback requirements and using footings. Sad to say but people brought this on themselves.
 

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It wasn't the townships. A few years ago, the state mandated iirc the unified building code . Townships had no choice in the matter.
 

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Samuel is on the money. It was either raise taxes to pay for all these new permit enforcements or have each permit issued have a fee.
Come to think of it I am not sure taxes could be raised to cover these expenses....
 

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Birch812 said:
I am all for DIY home projects but think anything over changing out receptacles and lamps should be done by professionals. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I have seen people in older buildings where knob and tube wiring
is present just tap into the wires and intermingle it with grounded systems, usually with bad results.
I had a buddy install a light outside his deck and blew out 3 TVs before he asked for help, its a good thing he didn't burn down his house.
It also becomes dangerous for the poor [censored] who has to come in and work on their work.

We have a lot of power outages due to downed trees and snow/ice sometimes lasting days. The way some have portable generators wired into their panel box its no wonder someone does not get killed, especially the guys out trying to re-establish power to their home.

Electricity is not difficult to understand but caution needs to be used. This is one of the main reasons the townships are tightening up on the regs. You can't even put a PVC shed without a building permit, following setback requirements and using footings. Sad to say but people brought this on themselves.
Oh. pleeeeeeeze!! With as much info available most folks should be able to handle DIY's above replacing a receptacle.

Just because a "professional" did it doesn't mean it's done right. Case in point, my home. Bought new in 2004. As I started to do things, like add receptacles, water softener, family room, I came across numerous violations.

1. Most electrical receptacles/switches had 1/4"-3/8" exposed wire. That be a no-no. The receptacle for the gas water heater fan had close to an inch.

2. Three gang switch boxes, instead of pigtailing and wire nut, back stripped sections out of one long hot (black wire) and looped it over each hot on the switches. Another No-no.

3. Bathroom exhaust fan was 50 CFM, based on sizing calculations it should have been close to 100 CFM. My guess is, the GC got a deal on 50 CFM's and that is what was put in regardless of sizing requirements.

4. Incoming expansion tank was placed on the downstream (outlet hot) side of the water heater. Should be on the cold inlet side.

5. Ceiling fans hung from standard box nailed to the side of a joist.

The list goes on and on.... AND should have been caught by the township inspector.

Make no mistake, permits are for revenue generation PERIOD. I've added numerous circuits to my breaker box. Breaker sizes are easily calculated. Added a sink in my garage. Above cabinet lighting.... Ain't none of hard.
 

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I can't speak for all Twp's, but I can speak for the small rural Twp that I live in, and I am also a Twp supervisor.

The state passed the law requiring the code enforcement. We do not have enough population and building going on to hire our own inspector, as is the case with a lot of smaller Twp's. So we hire a 3rd party company to do our inspections, as dod the other small Twp's.

Each Twp's has a choice as to how strict they want to be in regard's to the permits required beyond the state minimum.

In our Twp, we only require [permits for what is state mandated. The fee for the permit is exactly what the coge enforcement company charges for there service. We have the option of charging more than that, and the Twp could make money off every permit, but we feel as many on here do, that this should not be used as a revenue source, but rather as the safety concern that it was intended.
 

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Ah, computers and their easier tracking did a lot of DIY's in. Now every fire department and volunteer fire department can keep track of the cause of fires. If it causes a fire, someone is keeping track of it.
And unfortunately, DIY's ever were perfect.
 

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i have done quite a few DIY projects but have a pretty good amount of experience with this type of thing. i always equip myself with the knowledge of proper and safe if i ever even have even the slightest question.
 
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NO issues with the rural twp. my camp is in and I even occasionally get a building permit. The last time, for a small addition I poked out the back of the original 12x20 part.

Inspector asked me how deep the holes were for the two 6x6 PT "pilings". Told him one was 36" and the other was 42". He asked why only 36" for the one, told him I'd hit a rock that I couldn't bust, close enough.



Agreed that most people ought not to tackle plumbing and electrical jobs. Seen far too many boogers and outright dangerous situations over the years.
 

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Just went through the process of perc, septic and building permits. Still need to file soil erosion plan and rainwater seepage pit design. Driveway design, etc. Thank goodness I don't need a subdivision. The total costs so far are almost $2,000.00 and so far we just have stakes marking the building location and stakes marking the septic location.
 

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I feel your pain zimmer. I have about the same costs just in a septic system and I have yet to put a shovel to the dirt other than perc tests. Costs are ridiculous for permits. 600+ for perc test and 1200 for a septic permit. Somebody is making a killing on paperwork.
 

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Well i made my living in the building business
in Bucks co for more than 40 years. When i retired and moved to Florida I became a licensed
building contractor in that state. The cost for
permits in PA is very small as compared to places like Florida. The cost of a perk test is
due to the cost of actually performing the test
by a qualified person and filling out the necessary paper work for the health dept who
then issues the permit. The cost for the health
dept permit includes the various inspections
of the system as its being installed. So its not
simply all profit as a result of shuffeling
papers. The thing that bothered me the most about the PA system was the lack of uniformity
from township to township. The various building
officials in the various townships interpit
the building code as they see fit. And there is
at times a lack of actual experience on the part
of some of the inspectors. In that regard Florida has a better system in that all permits
are issued by the counties. And the inspectors
are for the most part more proffessional.
 

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West Hempfield in Lancaster is no better. Had to get a permit to put window dormers in my cape cod and was told I MUST have professional engineering diagrams regardless of how many my uncle (who is a licensed) contractor put in these houses before. Of course the engineer was on the township board and the cost for the plans was $700!!!! The worse part was he already had the plans drawn up for this builders cookie cutter house and just copied a set he already had. Then, we went to build per the plans and found out they were WRONG!! His response you might ask? Oh...just do it the way you think it should be done. I could have rammed those plans where the sun don't shine. So some twps may not be in it for the money but I promise you West Hempfield IS!
 

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Unless things have very recently changed, there
are no licensing requirments for builders in the state of PA.
Some municipalities have requirments for licenses to contractors, which simply
ammount to an occupational license requiring no
actual testing to asertain any actual knowledge.
In other words pay the fee each year and your good to go in that township. If you do business in 10 different townships, your asked to pay the fee in each one before any permits will be issued to you. Many today are also requiring
proof of liability and workmans comp insurance.
The system is designed to protect the general
public against unscrupulous individuals. Wether
they be contractors, homeowners, or the special breed of profit takers known as flippers.
Unfortunatly due to that, municipalities have
been forced into the position of covering their butt with more regulations. There have always
been stories, some true and some exagereted on
both sides of the issue.
 

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Since contractors' licenses became a state issue several years ago, our twp. here at home no longer issues plumbing licenses. I had one in this twp. and a neighboring twp. going back to the mid 70s.

None of them handle such licenses now. All engaged in any contracting efforts are required to obtain the state license: Plumbers, painters, siding installers, carpenters and so on - if their income rises above a minimum amount.

Never got the state contractor's license because I was retiring about the time they came into being.

Most First Class twps. in PA have had full time building inspectors for years, at least all of those around the Harrisburg area where I've done work.

Two years ago we built a 40x60 block storage garage onto a sportsmen's club building. We were required to build it to commercial specs due to a zoning change since we'd built the original building in '98.

When they demanded we install two layers of Type X drywall on the existing gable end truss, (both sides, where the new garage was attached), that included needing prints, UL specs AND an architect/engineer stamp on the prints. Just for the installation of the drywall.

I've done lots of such "fire stop" installations over the years, but they refused to budge on those requirements. It's a different "age" now, than it was just a few years ago.
 

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Well there you have a perfect example of the lack of a uniform code thruout the state.
And from township to township, especially as to how the code is enforced.
A double layer of fire coded drywall in garages attached to living quarters has been in existance in some townships for decades. Some go so far as to require an inspection of each layer, and spray paint it to show its been done. The cost of building a house can vary considerably from township to township, simply due to the labor factor in complying to the various code enforcment issues.
 
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