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Inspector Clouseau Rides Again?

February 15, 2010

Regular readers may recall that the last time I had been quiet for an unusually long time was because the farm house was absorbing an inordinate amount of my time and attention.

That was nothing.

We are now in inspection mode.  In order to be completely finished we need something called a Code of Compliance certificate from the local council.  The first ‘final’ inspection that we had about a month ago resulted in a two page list of items ‘requiring attention.’  We’ve given them attention.  Lots of it.  The inspector man came out two days ago for a second ‘final’ inspection and we passed!

Is it time to celebrate?

Not quite. 

There is another part of the inspection process that involves paperwork.  And one of the pieces of paper you need involves certification of the gas system.  Now I’m not adverse to the idea of ensuring the safety of a system that pumps explosive gas through the house.  But I would have thought that inspecting the system would occur a little earlier in the process.

So yet another inspector shows up.  He is very serious.  Gas is not a laughing matter.  He does his inspection thing and zeroes in on the gas cook top.  It isn’t a stove, it’s a cook top built into the kitchen counter.  A hole was made in the countertop and the cook top was wired, piped and screwed and glued into place.  I.e., you can’t move it.  And that is important to the story.

He gets out a ruler and measures.  And measures again.  And scratches his head.  And purses his lips.  And shakes his head.  And tells me that he must go to his car where he has his portable library of regulations.

I recognise this as Not A Good Sign.

He comes back with a book which says that the burners on a gas stove must be 200mm from the wall.  And the ones in our nice new kitchen are 190mm.  According to him, any attempt to cook on the stove will result in a conflagration and concomitant immolation.  And the pasta won’t be al dente.

As we used to say, I understood where he was coming from.  But.  Ten millimetres!  That’s this big:  ——– .   One lousy centimeter!  The alternatives seemed to be moving a wall, moving the stove top, which is embedded in a hole in the kitchen counter, or, I guess never using the stove.

So I stopped laughing long enough to ask him why a professional kitchen design and building company would build a kitchen that didn’t comply with the law.

Did he say, “I’ll have their license for this!” No.  Did he say, “Shit happens.”  No.  He said, and I quote, “They don’t know about these regulations.”

Like Elvis, I guess that Kafka hasn’t left the building either. 

It turns out that the problem can be easily fixed.  By installing a fire retardant surface on the wall.  “Talk to your kitchen people,” was his helpful suggestion.  I immediately formulated a conspiracy theory.

“And what are they going to tell me?”

“You can use glass, stainless steel or tile.  They can help you.”

“Help?” I thought to myself, but I actually said, “Did you say tile?”

He consulted his regulations.  “Sure.  See, right here it says ceramic tiles have a ΔTLc3/(να) and a k/(ρcp) (m2/s) so you don’t have to worry about u0Lc/ν!”

“That’s great!” I said.

Stainless steel and glass might have been beyond my skills, but I figured, how hard would it be to put up some tiles?

How much tiling experience do I have, you ask.

None.  Not a bit.  I took a 3 hour class at a local tile shop and they gave us a DVD (where everything looks a lot easier than it really is, let me tell you). 

Fortunately, my friend Peter has a lot of experience and he helped me.

Sic transit the weekend. 

But it looks really good.  And so was the pasta.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2010 6:33 am

    Kafka indeed. It would be interesting to know whether said inspector, or his regulator bosses, subsequently informed your supplier of the regulations that they didn’t know about — indeed, whether they published an RSS feed, sent an email, did anything at all to inform ALL suppliers.

    Then again, that would make things obvious and easy, thus obviating the need for inspectors with rulers. And somebody somehwere would have to sit down and draft … an email.

    This ( the millimeter stuff, in the US) also reminds me of an addendum to Murphy’s Law I once came across: “Measurements will be given in the least useful unit: Thus, speed will be given in furloughs per fortnight.”

    • February 16, 2010 7:00 am

      I still have to mentally convert all metric measures to English before I’m sure what I’m talking about. I can’t get used to being warm when it’s 30 degrees.

  2. February 16, 2010 11:54 am

    Always glad to help out, and thanks for the spaghetti. I especially enjoyed the kiwi sauce and the grilled koala chunks. They don’t have that in Littly Italy.

  3. February 16, 2010 1:36 pm

    This is really a digression, but following up on the earlier comments, I think there’s a lot of very illuminating , or maybe just funny, stuff that could be written about odd units of measurements. Such as versts (something I came across in Tolstoy or Chekhov), cubits (Biblical, I think?), hands (the way you measure horses. Anything less than 14.2 hands at the withers is a pony, not a horse), and lakhs (I encountered this in connection with Five-Year Plans in India). Great stuff!

    • February 16, 2010 6:06 pm

      And don’t forget leagues, fathoms and furlongs. The title deed to my house has a map of the section and the unit of measure is “chains.” But they also have “roods” and “perches.” I don’t know what it all means but there is a legend that says “1 perch = 25.29m2 and 1 link= 2012 metres.”

  4. Anahita permalink
    February 17, 2010 7:22 pm

    Thanks for the lessons in weights and measures 🙂 This is why we had a backsplash put in from the get go…

    • February 17, 2010 7:29 pm

      Yeah, we had a backsplash already installed. We ended up having to add a “side”splash.

  5. February 20, 2010 5:18 am

    Oh. Reading this post churned up memories I had suppressed.

    Not sure about the politics in your neighborhood, but we went through this exact type nonsense when we built our house 17 years ago.

    What it really was about, in our case, was the city inspector’s need to keep his job. He would come up, determine something was off—usually something minor—and then inform us that he would not sign off on this part of the project until we remedied the problem.

    It was all about control and generating revenue.

    Whatever spirit, creativity, and downright fun we put into the conceptualizing and building of our home evaporated after a short period of time.

    What added to the frustration was that we were building our house in a region that was formerly Spanish land grant property. That caused the Historical Review Board to get involved.

    Never mind the home cannot be seen by anyone, other than hikers and pilots.

    Whew! Thanks for giving me the space for my mini-rant.

    I hope Andreas doesn’t read this. I promised him I would never rant again on a post or a comment.


  6. February 20, 2010 1:39 pm

    Rant? What rant?

  7. February 20, 2010 2:54 pm

    ha ha, a kafkaesque kitchen. Love the “immolation” and “al dente.”

  8. February 22, 2010 12:39 pm

    @ Cheri: Busted. Andreas has read this.

    But I our memories differ: Didn’t you promise to rant a lot more?

    90% of blogging is ranting. I rant on my blog so I do not have to rant off my blog, allowing me to be my normally cheerful and light-spirited butterfly personality in the offline world. Ahem.

  9. Gail permalink
    February 25, 2010 6:11 pm

    this one reminded me of the time we had a swimming pool put in. Had to have all the plumbing inspected so the t no chlorinated water could back wash into the main system. Passed with flying colours EXCEPT I had to ask how the inspector gained admission to the back yard. We had a dog and had high security fences at either side of the house. They could only be opened from inside the yard. Red faces all around the Council Depot. Gail.

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