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View Full Version : Got nailed on compliance today



Larry Bratton
04-17-2008, 9:56 PM
I live in SC and do signage for apartments and new construction. We have a state agency called the Department of Health and Environmental Control (fondly referred to as DHEC). They inspect and permit public swimming pools among other things. I made some signs for a pool that per their reg requires the letters to be 6" and 4". I cut a mask over aluminum with laser and painted the signs. I failed to recognize that when I had the text grouped and set the height at 6", that each letter was not necessarily 6". Some of the letters came out 3/16" shy of the requirement. In haste to get them out, I didn't catch it.:o

The inspector..apparently an old hand at this, actually took out a tape and measured each letter. Turned down the permit over 3/16" of an inch, which in a sign that big would not affect anything relative to the message being conveyed. I was wrong, he was right, but I thought it bit ridiculous.

Soooo..their's a good bit of talk here about their being no enforcement on some signs, such as ADA. If ya live in South Carolina, you better comply to the letter of the regs, coz they got their public servants doing their job here.

Joe Pelonio
04-17-2008, 10:55 PM
Wow, that's pretty amazing to me. Around here they seem to care more about permits than anything else, which of course is revenue to the City.

For others that may not realize it, in a sign design program 6" letters mean that the flat letters like E and T are 6", the round ones like O and S are slightly taller. So, if you use something like corel, group and stretch to 6" your rounded letters will be 6" but the flat ones under.

Brian Weick
04-17-2008, 11:11 PM
that inspector may be, in my opinion, rather,the passive one at home I would surmise. That is absolutely ridiculous and absurd and rather a capricious voluntary judgment on his part ~ you have got to be kidding me! 3/16ths of an inch ~ you know what is behind that rigid judgment, coming up short 3/16ths of an inch ,and why it won't pass ~ guess! :D I feel bad for you Larry ~ seriously, :(
What a world we live in now a days, people suing a burger joint because there overweight ~ a bugler suing a homeowner because he locked himself in the garage after shutting the entrance door to the garage , the garage door being broken, and claims to have suffered mental anguish and malnourished for 7 days surviving on the Pepsi and dog food ~ went to a trial ,sued for $70,000~ judgment, ~$32,000 ~ I could go on and on, but this is a friendly place and I know the limit ~ well, I guess you have to be more precise next time Larry.
My best, :)
Brian
Brian

Keith Outten
04-17-2008, 11:41 PM
Larry,

All of the new facilities we are building at CNU are state buildings, the final inspection is done by a state inspection group who provide our permits to occupy. They check every detail including our ADA signs. We also have a very comprehensive inspection from the state Fire Marshall's Office so we are serious about compliance with the building codes and regulations at CNU. My supervisor in the University Architect, he is responsible for implementing the entire construction program from permits to final inspections by the state. I haven't known him to miss any code violations in the five years that I have been at CNU, he has a keen eye and a lifetime of experience :)

.

Belinda Williamson
04-18-2008, 9:04 AM
Tough break Larry. You are absolutely right about SC. The laws governing signage are very strictly enforced, particularly it seems in the Hilton Head area.

Scott Shepherd
04-18-2008, 11:21 AM
Larry, Larry, Larry....... haven't you learned anything since you've owned your laser? You should have quickly whipped out your laser produced clear acrylic scale (ruler) and shown that it was exactly a perfect 6" :)

You can even call him back and meet him over there. Let him use your scale to measure it ;) When he compares it to his tape measure, you can tell him that those are mass produced and often off by as much as 1/4" :)

Keith, send those inspectors my way. I've got some goverment buildings they need to visit. Along with hospitals, restaurants, etc. It's some of the most hit and miss enforcement I have seen.

Larry Bratton
04-18-2008, 7:35 PM
Well friends, their is a bit of good news. My customer e-mailed me today and told me that the inspector was actually training 2 NEW inspectors. He took 2-1/2 hours to inspect this pool (my unlucky day). He said, that after they left, he measured the letters and did find some to be off by 1/8". I offered him a credit for the signs, since he grabbed some from a pool supply place to get the pool open and he REFUSED the credit. He said that in no way was he displeased with my workmanship and I owed him nothing, considered it to be a fluke. I felt good about him offering that..but in the long run I will give it back to him. Great customers like him are hard to find, so you gotta take care of them. I have a $15K contract with him on another project, so they will be opportunity to do that.

I still think the whole thing is a tad bit ridiculous. I have been working in new construction many years now with architects and all kinds of inspectors. I have seen them miss major things and nit-pick things that didn't amount to a lot like this.

However...No Scott, it's not negotiable. HIS tape is ALWAYS right if he chooses for it to be.

Stephen Beckham
04-19-2008, 9:47 PM
Department of Health and Environmental Control (fondly referred to as DHEC).

SORRY Larry - I bit my tounge as long as I could...

So when he rejected the letters did you have an Abbot and Costello moment to kindly say "What DHEC?" :D


Seriously - the signs are a by product on this one... The great return customer is the true jewel...

Keith Outten
04-20-2008, 6:55 AM
Keith, send those inspectors my way. I've got some government buildings they need to visit. Along with hospitals, restaurants, etc. It's some of the most hit and miss enforcement I have seen.

Scott,

Hospitals and other private buildings are not inspected by the state BCOM organization, I believe the local building inspection office has jurisdiction. Government buildings that have been in service don't receive any re-inspections that I know of but it seems there is definitely a need to assure they remain in compliance.

If you build a new building for the state there is a requirement to have a full-time Clerk of the Works on projects above a certain price tag. A Clerk of the Works is basically a Project Inspector responsible for every phase of the project and every craft. This provide a much more comprehensive inspection system than an inspector that comes when he is called and inspects just his craft, many things are overlooked and fall through the cracks using the local inspection office. Our system also requires third party Inspection Groups to participate, one represents the University and one is hired by our Architectural firm to make sure the project specifications are enforced.

.

Larry Bratton
04-20-2008, 3:38 PM
SORRY Larry - I bit my tounge as long as I could...

So when he rejected the letters did you have an Abbot and Costello moment to kindly say "What DHEC?" :D


Seriously - the signs are a by product on this one... The great return customer is the true jewel...
Steve:
Very clever..I am sure I can use THAT in the fulture! I did make a similar comment but a bit stronger!

Keith Outten
04-21-2008, 7:50 AM
I'll play the Devil's advocate here since I have spent a major portion of my life as an Inspector.

Rarely are Inspectors given the authority to accept situations that are out of tolerance. Then there is the question of how far out of tolerance is reasonable even if the Inspector had the option...3/16", 1/4" or 1/2"? How flexible do you think an Inspector should be, remember your idea of nitpicking may not be the same as the Inspectors Supervisor. Often an Inspector will put his/her job in jeopardy when they turn their heads, this is the job that feeds their family and pays the bills.

If you make a mistake why would you expect someone else to risk their job and accept work that does not meet the specification?

Secondly, you should never argue with an Inspector. You may ask questions and you can inquire about his judgment but you should never allow any conversation to become argumentative or make a confrontational statement. This just makes the Inspector mad and won't buy you any slack, in fact it will often work against you.....to the max. If you feel that you haven't been treated fairly you should take your case up with the Inspection Supervisor, never argue with an Inspector on the job. You will be better off to admit your job is out of tolerance and hope the final decision goes your way rather than expecting/demanding to receive approval for work that is not in compliance with the specification.

.

Larry Bratton
04-21-2008, 4:43 PM
I'll play the Devil's advocate here since I have spent a major portion of my life as an Inspector.

Rarely are Inspectors given the authority to accept situations that are out of tolerance. Then there is the question of how far out of tolerance is reasonable even if the Inspector had the option...3/16", 1/4" or 1/2"? How flexible do you think an Inspector should be, remember your idea of nitpicking may not be the same as the Inspectors Supervisor. Often an Inspector will put his/her job in jeopardy when they turn their heads, this is the job that feeds their family and pays the bills.

If you make a mistake why would you expect someone else to risk their job and accept work that does not meet the specification?

Secondly, you should never argue with an Inspector. You may ask questions and you can inquire about his judgment but you should never allow any conversation to become argumentative or make a confrontational statement. This just makes the Inspector mad and won't buy you any slack, in fact it will often work against you.....to the max. If you feel that you haven't been treated fairly you should take your case up with the Inspection Supervisor, never argue with an Inspector on the job. You will be better off to admit your job is out of tolerance and hope the final decision goes your way rather than expecting/demanding to receive approval for work that is not in compliance with the specification.

.
My dear Mr Outten..I too have spent most of my adult working life in something related to construction. Sixty three years on this earth and have encountered a lot of inspectors, owners and the like and have always worked with them successfully.

Firstly, no one has the asked the inspector to do anything outside of what he is supposed to do. I was first to admit he was right and I was wrong. But, an inspectors main job is to protect the public..especially in the case of the DHEC. Let us remember he is a public servant and I as a TAXPAYER help pay his salary. I as a taxpayer, would expect nothing less from him except to do his job. I happen to think, however, that their has to be some tolerence in everything. Unfortunately it's not a perfect world. All I can say is, that if that is all the inspector has to do is to seek out small indescrepencies that cause no harm to anyone, maybe that department needs to find some duties for him, like checking compliance on ADA..huh?

And for secondly..you are quite right. The local authority is always the "boss". Right or wrong..he's still the boss. I was not on the job personally when the inspection took place. My customer, the GC, handled it.

Steven Hardy
04-22-2008, 5:38 AM
My dear Mr Outten..I too have spent most of my adult working life in something related to construction. Sixty three years on this earth and have encountered a lot of inspectors, owners and the like and have always worked with them successfully.

Firstly, no one has the asked the inspector to do anything outside of what he is supposed to do. I was first to admit he was right and I was wrong. But, an inspectors main job is to protect the public..especially in the case of the DHEC. Let us remember he is a public servant and I as a TAXPAYER help pay his salary. I as a taxpayer, would expect nothing less from him except to do his job. I happen to think, however, that their has to be some tolerence in everything. Unfortunately it's not a perfect world. All I can say is, that if that is all the inspector has to do is to seek out small indescrepencies that cause no harm to anyone, maybe that department needs to find some duties for him, like checking compliance on ADA..huh?

And for secondly..you are quite right. The local authority is always the "boss". Right or wrong..he's still the boss. I was not on the job personally when the inspection took place. My customer, the GC, handled it.

And I John Q Public ..shall sleep better tonite knowing that the sign letters will be 6 inches as opposed to 5 and 7/8ths...Good grief..is this what your tax dollars are going toward?

Steven Wilson
04-22-2008, 9:24 AM
Steven, if the standard is 6" then it's 6", if you're not in compliance then do it again. Not too hard to understand.

Larry Bratton
04-22-2008, 2:41 PM
Steven, if the standard is 6" then it's 6", if you're not in compliance then do it again. Not too hard to understand.
That would be right. It's either right or wrong. I demonstrated my willingness to correct it, but my customer concurred with the idea that it was ridculous. My point is that the inspectors time would be better spent (and tax payers money) on things that would be a true threat to public health, which, an 1/8" discrepency in a letter height ain't!

Robert McGowen
04-22-2008, 11:45 PM
Public pool, accident, lawyer, lawsuit, sign out of compliance..............

I would be THANKING the inspector! But that's just me....... :rolleyes:

Keith Outten
04-23-2008, 5:38 AM
You think this is insignificant?

There are people who roam around every day all day long looking for minor infractions of the law so they can file a lawsuit. A public facility can spend hundreds of thousands of your tax dollars protecting themselves from greedy people who find the most insignificant infractions that will put money in their pockets. The very day you open up to the public these people are at the door waiting to get in...and you can bet that there will be more than just one. How do you know who they are? They have measuring tapes, dial calipers and a whole host of measuring tools in their hands, they are inspecting every aspect of your brand new building working the facility looking for pay day.

I have direct knowledge of one case that I have been involved with but I can't share the information publicly. I wish I could because it would be proof how important these seemingly insignificant details can be.

Robert is right, Inspectors that enforce the specification to the letter are doing the public more of a service then you can imagine.

Sorry Larry but that 1/8" discrepancy in the sign letters could easily cost the taxpayers over ten thousand dollars if they settle out of court. If you decide to go to court the figure will go sky high with legal fees and awards, you know that you will lose since you know your sign letters are not the required height. The Courts will generally be very forgiving concerning older buildings that were built to less restrictive specifications. If your building is brand new you better pay strict attention to the specs, you won't get any slack from the judge.

Protecting the taxpayers has become a very expensive ordeal. Even a compliance hearing can be very costly to prepare for since you have to pay for your own defense.

.

Jamie Cowan
05-15-2008, 6:07 PM
Around here, most inspectors for things like that are usually the idiot brother-in-law of some politician. They get a job that they aren't really all that qualified for, and some treat it like a no-show job, while others act like little Napoleans. I don't know which is worse.

Anthony Scira
05-21-2008, 3:31 PM
Yeah and never try to slip them some cash. It does not work like the movies..........don't ask.

Stephen Edwards
05-21-2008, 8:34 PM
I thank the good Lord that I live in one of what is probably one of the few remaining counties in America that has no building inspections to speak of. The only permits required and the only inspections performed are for electrical and sewage. That's it!

We don't have to have a building permit to build a shed, a barn, an addition or even a house. However, I realize that as more and more people move in to this remote area of Tennessee, that situation will change. But for the time being, it's wonderful! So far, Tennessee allows each county to decide whether or not they wish to adopt the state uniform building codes, with the exceptions of the two above mentioned inspections....septic and electrical.

Scott Shepherd
06-05-2008, 6:58 PM
Did a job in a very large building the other day. Full and I mean full of law offices and actual court rooms as well as the public offices of some of the supreme court judges.

Not a braille sign in the entire building. If it's not enforced in the buildings occupied by the Department of Justice.......

Joe Pelonio
06-05-2008, 9:09 PM
Did a job in a very large building the other day. Full and I mean full of law offices and actual court rooms as well as the public offices of some of the supreme court judges.

Not a braille sign in the entire building. If it's not enforced in the buildings occupied by the Department of Justice.......
I'm not surprised, I found the same thing at the local Social Security office.
I've found that regardless of the owner or tenant, ADA is enforced only when a complaint is made or on a building permit inspection, except for the handicap parking spaces. The manager of a business I use stopped by to pick up paperwork on a Sunday while his store was closed, and was ticketed for parking in his own store's handicap space, while no one else was in the entire lot.

Larry Bratton
06-08-2008, 7:23 PM
Joe:
As I have been reminded several times in this thread...The law is the law. The cop that came along and ticketed that guy was "just doin his job".

I have another problem to solve next week. I'm doing a 200 unit apartment project and the fire marshall in an e-mail to the GC stated that on the sprinkler rooms (1 per bldg) he wanted a red sign with Sprinkler Room in 6" high letters. Using an Arial font, Sprinkler with 6" letters is 20" wide. Unless I greatly distort the lettering, their is not room to place it anywhere close to the door other than on the door itself. . The doors are panel doors and not flush doors, but we may have to stick it on there.He may want it on the building, I'll have to ask

He's the same FM that is having the owner put a building number sign with 6" high reflective letters on all 4 sides of each building. Want's to be sure the fire truck spot lights can identify the building. I would think that the one with the FIRE and SMOKE would be a dead giveaway...go figure. No problem for me though, I gladly made the 32 signs and charged accordingly.

Joe Pelonio
06-09-2008, 9:43 AM
That reminds me of a land use sign I had to do. The city had just incorporated and it turned out to be the very first one done to their written specs., which had to be changed after I contacted them.

The sign was 4'x4', and it called for leaving space at the bottom for 17"hx11"w laminated paper to be stuck on. There was 9 lines of text, all were required to be helvetica medium, 3" letters. Plus logo at top. With the logo and space at bottom, there was 25" left for the text - 9 lines of 3" letters is 27" even without spacing between lines!

Larry Bratton
06-09-2008, 8:08 PM
Well Joe, the beat goes on! Today, I sent an e-mail to the fire marshal and asked to clarify that he wanted these signs with reflective on them on ALL buildings, including the little pool cabana, the maintenance building and the detached garages. The answer was "any building that has an address" gets 4 signs. This means the order increased by at least 30 signs. Probably isn't making the owner too happy but it suits me OK. At the time I quoted the project, some of these buildings didn't have addresses, but the local power company fixed that.
It is difficult for people that don't make the products to grasp how difficult it can be sometimes to fill their requirements.