Sunday, November 23, 2008

All inspections passed

We have successfully passed all of our construction inspections. We are now ready for spray foam insulation (which will begin next week) and then drywall shortly after. There has been a lot of progress over the last week on other fronts too (stairs, the metal mansard, fiber-cement paneling, etc) which I will go over in the next few posts and try to get everyone up to speed.

Plumbing: Over the past two weeks we wrapped up all the piping and rough-ins and subsequently passed inspection (and we now have water). The whole process was a bit tricky due to the fact that we had the water shut off over a year ago because we knew weren't getting started for a while and didn't want to keep paying a bill. This meant the water department came and actually removed the meter from the house. Well, when our plumber gave us the original cost estimate he mentioned to us that he does not know the state of the pipe coming in from the street due to the fact that there is no meter and the water had been off for a while. This meant that he might have to tear up the sidewalk to make a new connection from the curb to the house and possibly from the curb to water main (under the street), if a lead pipe was still there. The cost incurred for all this work would be over $10K and has been hanging over us ever since receiving the estimate. We would not know what we had to do till the water department came out.

I remember the City tearing up the whole street a couple of years ago and replacing some lines but I never found out what exactly they replaced. The plumber's "worst case scenario" was that they replaced the water main and, since the house was abandoned at the time, they just cut off the connection which would then have to be replaced. Fortunately, we found that when PWD came last week to install a new meter, the pipes under the sidewalk appear to be in good shape (and still connected) and the pressure is good and steady...thus requiring no outside work. Whew! So the plumber came back and hooked up his main supply line to the meter and we are now in business. But the mystery street work remained.

Electrical: We passed our electrical inspection shortly after plumbing. This process involves a bit of orchestration too as, unlike the other trades, PECO doesn't actually do the electrical inspection. What they require is that an "independent underwriter" actually perform the inspection and then report to PECO when they are finished. PECO then comes out, checks to see verification from the underwriter, then (in our case) strings the line from the main power line running along the street to the front of the house. It is then our electrician's job to actually connect the wires from the street to the wires running up a conduit on the side of our house. Usually these are located on the front face of row houses, but we got lucky and were able to keep the conduit on the side since we're an end unit. And by the way, the owner can contact the underwriter directly. PECO has a short list of recommended ones, but our electrician has someone that he always works with and was able to come out on short notice. I recommend going this route, if possible, as you never know how long an underwriter will take if you are cold calling them.

At this point, we are still waiting for PECO to show up to run the wires. We were told this would be last Mon or Tues. but so far they haven't made an appearance. After PECO finishes their work and our electrician connects the two lines, we'll have power.

HVAC: There doesn't appear to be an official mechanical inspection, although we did find out that the City is now requiring everyone to get an HVAC "permit" (which they never did before). It costs about $500. We got our permit last Friday so we're good to go.

The mechanical contractor finished installing the furnace in the basement, which barely fit since we bumped up to a 14 SEER unit. I believe the units get bigger as you increase the SEER, so always keep that in mind when considering an upgrade. He also finished running the main return ducts and the supply ducts for the first floor...all running along the basement ceiling. He might have to come back later to tighten up a few things (tape joints, etc) but basically, he's done. I scheduled the gas company to come out tomorrow afternoon to install a new meter and turn the gas on. This is where the mystery street work was uncovered. It was the gas main that they replaced a couple of years ago and they did cut and cap the gas line to the house at the curb. So they have tear the sidewalk up in order to put a coupling on and reconnect our line to the street. Thankfully for us, PGW does this for free (unlike what the plumber was going to have to do).

The only snag in this process is that in order for the gas company to turn your gas on, they require at least one gas powered fixture in the house to be hooked up. Well, that's not a problem since the furnace is installed and ready to go. BUT, the furnace needs electricity to function and if the PWD gets there before PECO, well, then I guess we'll have to rig the furnace up to the generator (which I'm not even sure if this is possible). If not, then they will hook up the new meter and I will have to reschedule them to come back when we have power. ugh.

Also, regarding the ongoing battle about the city "requiring" everyone to put the gas meter on the front of the house (a total eye sore in addition to the fact that you then have to either protect it with bollards or box it in) there is at least one way to get around this. When doing a renovation project, the gas main is likely to be coming into the basement and that's where the old meter typically was. As much as possible, try not disturb this situation. They most likely will install the new meter where old one was because that's where the pipe is, thus solving the dilemma and getting your new meter in the basement.

Final Framing: This was the last official inspection (although the inspector still has to come back and check things out after insulation goes in.) We were asked to add some additional strapping to the roof rafters but that was about it. The inspector was very pleased with the solid construction and we in turn are very pleased to be done with ALL the inspections!

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