Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Happy anniversary, honey, I got you an electrical inspection!

Yes, today's our 8th anniversary. Thanks to everyone for your cards and letters. We'll just assume they were late coming through the mail and we should see them in the next day or so.

So we made it through the itch year, unless you count the addition to the house as the itch. One big itch. So anyway, I took today off to finish the gruelingly long project of electrical wiring. When I felt I was close to being done, I called the number my electrician had provided me to set up a meeting with the electrical inspector. I figured he'd give me a time in the next several days. Well, it so happened that he was about five blocks away from the house when I called him, so he said, "sure, be there in a minute."

That was a good thing. It got the inspection out of the way with no time to stress about it. You see, this electrical project has been fairly daunting. I'm no electrician, but I've picked up tips here and there, and my dad and I felt we were up to the challenge of wiring the whole addition ourselves, leaving the heavy-duty dangerous stuff for the electrician. So as mentioned in previous posts, we spent an entire week mapping out wiring routes and schlepping to Home Depot, spending hundreds of dollars on wire, romex connectors, boxes, light fixtures, and the like. At first it felt pretty crazy. Every time I whipped out the HD Mastercard I felt like this whole project was just bleeding us of money. But after a while, it was water off a duck's back. Eh, another hundred here, another hundred there. All told, we're into the electrical for probably twelve hundred bucks. Meanwhile, most of the advice I got from the electrician when I called him was, "oh, I wouldn't have done it like that. Yeah, the inspector might have a problem with it" Gee thanks. Next time, a few more specifics please.

So back to the inspection. What a racket. This guy shows up, I explain the whole project and what we did, and start the tour. He asked me where our grounding rods are. I said, "our what?" He said grounding rods are pounded into the ground several feet from the house, and a ground wire is run to them from the circuit panel. I told him this house was built during my Bar Mitzvah, so I couldn't even guess where they would be. Somehow he accepted that as an answer and that they probably existed. The whole tour took all of ten minutes, most of which time was spent counting the number of outlets, switches and lights we put in. I assumed that was to make sure there weren't too many on one circuit. Wrong. It was to determine how much to bill me for the inspection. You see, the base inspection price of $80 includes X number of "boxes", and for each additional there's a separate charge. So in total the inspection was $125. Hey, that's almost the price of a box of wire. And after a week of worrying if the wires were stapled neatly enough, or if they were stapled far enough away from the face of the stud, or if there were too many circuits or not enough, or if the right kind of wire was used in the right place, he looked at none of that. Just counted boxes.

In the end, he told me I need to make one small change. You see we're moving the kitchen table into the new family room area, making it sort of a dinette. That was a bad thing to tell him, because it means that any outlets near the table need to be 20amp instead of 15amp (which means running a thicker wire). It seems they think perhaps we'll be making smoothies, playing with our daughters' Lite Brite, and powering a generator simultaneously at the kitchen table, thus drawing too much power to our table while we drink our smoothies. Dang. I shoulda told him it was just a family room. Well, could have been worse. I could have told him about the nuclear accelerator I was planning on building in the workshop, but I avoided that subject.

Another milestone that occurred today was being able to retrieve our collection of pots, buckets, and tupperware from the new space. Bob The Builder completed the roof, so it's no longer leaking every time it rains. And believe me, I know EVERY place that it's been leaking, since it's rained almost every day for a month now.

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