ABB - Is it against code

GWloloFebruary 6, 2013

When I told my GC that I planned to do the countertop without the mini backsplash and planned to wait to finalize my backsplash, he said, it may not pass inspection. I am surprised as so many of you are ABB. Is it against code to be ABB? Maybe some wierd CA thing?

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I would think the outlets would need to be covered.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:49PM
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I am not giving you a definite answer. I have read on GW about this before however. It has something to do with the high BTU burners and the combustible wallboard behind it. I have heard people using cement board behind the stove to get around it, but that is probably too late for you. I have also heard of people getting the inexpensive stainless steel backsplash at a bigbox store, the 30" is $30, and putting that in place until after the inspection.
I am sure more knowledgeable people will have better answers.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 4:52PM
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Fori is not pleased

Doubt it's code. Call the city and ask. I went like this for a long time post-final. (You'll want coverplates on your outlets just so you don't lose 'em, whether or not it's required by code.) This is not a high BTU cooktop and drywall isn't really combustible.

Those pink Corian cutting boards from my original counter were for spatter, not fire control. Plus they looked glamorous.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:20PM
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In my numerous talks with inspectors about what would be necessary to pass final inspection, not once was a backsplash mentioned. Call your municipality to check for yourself.

I STILL don't have our final done. It's been how many years since our former GC pulled the permit? Ugh. We waited months for the electrician to show up again after we moved in. The next week after he'd finally come I remembered that DH still needs to hook up the laundry/bathroom exhaust fan through the roof before we get inspection. We won't pass without that.

P.S. I have to admit to a moment of panic when I quickly read your thread title. I thought you were going to call out those of in the ABB club on our tardiness and for violating some GW code. Whew! I'm saved from embarrassment. :)

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 5:31PM
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I was one of those whose inspector deemed that drywall was not considered a non-combustible, and therefore did not meet code for use behind my Bluestar range. As localeater mentioned, I swapped the drywall out for a piece of cement board, and everyone was happy. (I am still ABB.... :^(

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 10:23PM
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I'm pretty sure we were finaled in CA without a backsplash, though we don't have a high BTU stove and we have plaster walls, so maybe that made a difference? Call and ask for sure, though.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2013 at 11:25PM
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We passed while still in the ABB club.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:15AM
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I read about the commercial ranges and the possibility of needing to tile behind the stove so we went ahead and put cement board behind the stove. My Blue star installation instructions say that you must have a non-combustible surface for the first six inches or so down from the top of the back. Mt GC had never done that before but he obliged and did it anyway.. We are planning to tile the backsplash ourselves and so that could take quite awhile before it happens. no one said it would not meet code. I am in suburbs of Philadelphia so maybe some strange California code.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 9:58AM
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We just passed our final last week, still no backsplash. Of course, that doesn't mean we're up to code. Our county is lax about enforcing some stuff, then is a real stickler about other stuff. Kinda strange.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:01AM
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We had to put something behind the range to pass inspection. We put a sheet of stainless steel. My SIL used another product that could be painted to match the drywall.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:27AM
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DH is pushing me to decide on the backsplash and get it done. Ugh! I had hoped to tackle this after I dealt with the powder room and the countertop etc.

GC says it is not a good idea to call our small city's building department to clarify as they will be even more likely to remember and note that. Cost of swapping to cement board is too much now.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:16PM
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Fori is not pleased

Your GC is full of it.

Do you really want to risk not passing inspection? And if your GC is pretty sure it's code, does he not intend to follow it? The only possible reason he could be asking you not to call is that he's not sure and he doesn't want to be proven wrong. He has already said that you need to put in a BS so why the hell would he not want it confirmed? What is the risk of having the city pay extra attention to the BS when he's going to have a BS? How dare a girly girl question him!?

What kind of range do you have? Is it a super extreme flamey one? Does it not have a manufacturer backguard (like you got island trim or something?)?

If you have to, you can go to Home Depot, buy $10 worth of floor tile, and glue it up behind the range. Pry it off when you're legal, or leave it on while you're ABB if you think it has value. You could even screw up a piece of cement board. It's easy. It's cheap.

Just find out!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 12:38PM
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Basically my GC wants me to get the backsplash done. He does not want me to do any calling. He says he can check again but when he has checked in the past, it was required.Whether or not the inspectors enforce it is a a matter of who comes for inspection and whether they are a stickler. Same thing as he said for the stupid dishwasher airgap. My cooktop is induction but I also have a 12in single gas unit for woking.

To be fair, like many of us TKO folks here, I do have a tendency to mull over decisions and decide only when I am really sure. I think DH and GC are tired of it :)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:18PM
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I must agree with Fori. It is mildly annoying for a GC to squishily cite "code" that does not seem correct. It is a red flag to discourage checking with the inspector.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Delete duplicate post. Which is weird -- I only hit button once!

This post was edited by Angie_DIY on Thu, Feb 7, 13 at 13:30

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Fori is not pleased

My GC was so relieved when we finally admitted we couldn't decide and set him free! We had our Corian BS and linoleum remnant counter for over a year.

If it's code, it's code. So you should put something back there. But it does not have to be permanent or pretty. It does not end you long quest for the perfect BS (let the spouse know that the journey has not ended just because of "code"). (Be sure to use an evil laugh: muhahahahaha.)

I do think you'd at least want a cookie sheet behind the wok burner regardless of code.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:41PM
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You can cut a piece of cement board (or Hardy Backer) and screw it in place. Cheap and easy. When you're ready to do something different, remove it. Same with a sheet of stainless, which might look better.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:48PM
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Sometimes an inspector misses stuff because he either forgets, doesn't.
Know or looks the other way. My GC said that he has never had his inspectors call him on the make-up air for CFM over 400 but he also suggested that I not ask since it would bring the issue to light and then they would look at it.

That air gap is a mystery to me. When I asked my appliance guy about it he did not even know what I was talking about. I have never seen one in person. Only in pictures in magazines or on GW. Do some areas require them by code?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:52PM
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I have a question about what is and isn't "code".

If I'm not building a new house and i'm just remodeling the kitchen in my own home, why is it important? I don't need to get an inspection, right? Or any permits? And it's not so major a renovation - we aren't changing the footprint of the house or anything.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:53PM
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anytime you upgrade plumbing or electrical you should have permits pulled and inspections done.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 1:58PM
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I don't want to hijack this thread, but since it came up, I have a question about permits. The only electrical we are doing in our kitchen reno is adding undercabinet lighting. Everything else (outlets, etc.) is already to code. Plumbing will consist of pluming a new sink and installing a garbage disposal, both of which will be done by my husband. Other than that it's just new cabinets and counters. No structural changes, etc. One person we had come into give us a quote a little bit of work said we would have to pull permits but for the life of me I can't fathom why.

I know it depends on local codes, but the inspection thing sort of cracks me up. We ripped off the top of our house and put it back on higher, adding a bathroom, large deck, etc. (in other words a major reno) and although we had all the necessary permits we couldn't have gotten the town to inspect the work if we tried (we did). Our town just doesn't do inspections. They do permits and they certainly do reassessments, but they don't do inspections. Life in a small town ... I guess.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:33PM
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I called the Town and they told me that yes, I do need a permit, although KD said I didn't. I explained to the Town that we weren't changing the footprint of the house and she said it didn't matter. I asked her what I could do on my house without a permit, and she said I could replace a window that's the same size.

I don't get it.

The other thing I don't get is if I need to pay attention to this. This is our forever house. We're not selling any time soon. Who would know about the inside of my house???? I understand if it was a pool or something, but this makes no sense.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Olivertwist - We are remodeling without changing the foot print of the house. We had to pull permit and have so far had several inspections on several items. There is nothing to get.. it is what it is. Much of this is designed to protect you and your contracters. So it is not necessarily a bad thing.

p.ball: CA requires airgaps on the counter by code. You must live in a more evolved state than CA :) consider yourself lucky.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:11PM
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Fori is not pleased

DW air gaps are required in most of CA and just about no where else.

Whether or not to pull permits is a judgement call. In my town, I "need" a permit to change a light fixture or a faucet or a toilet. Not gonna happen. When I'm spending $50K on a new roof--yeah, that guy's gonna be pulling a permit.

My current house was severely underpriced compared to comps because of a lack of permits. Had the POs bothered to get permits for that wall they removed for a kitchen remodel (which most likely would have passed but would have required some actual drawings), they would have gotten at least another $100k for the house. People in this area freak out about missing structural walls for some reason. And they see something like that that isn't done correctly, they becomes suspicious about everything that has been done.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:19PM
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call the inspector but don't give your last name or address. don't ask permission from the GC, nor do you have to tell him. chances are he knows what's code and what's not.

in my town the inspectors are a wealth of info - i've called them with a number of questions. they miss more than they catch though.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:53PM
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The Consumerist blog posted "5 Home Inspection Photos That Show Why DIY Is Not Always The Best Route" today. I spent an hour looking at additional photos on the inspection firm's facebook page. You can say that you don't need permits because you'd never do anything like what's pictured in those first five pictures, but there are many more subtle problems in the facebook album. Part of the permit requirements is financial, including tax assessments, but plenty of it is about safety.

I used to live in a place that required a town inspection before a house could be sold. They kept those inspections on record, of course, and any major work done without a permit was easily discovered. (It wasn't a full inspection; it was mostly looking for things like hard-wired smoke detectors and that gutters no longer drained into the town sewers.)

Here is a link that might be useful: 5 Home Inspection Photos That Show Why DIY Is Not Always The Best Route

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Pyhlhl's suggestion is a really good one and one I just followed myself to answer my question above. The Inspector was extremely nice and told me that for what we have planned there was no need to get a permit unless we wanted to be extra cautious. I'd certainly ask him or her specifically about the backsplash issue. After all, your taxes pay his or her salary so part of their job is to answer your question.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:36PM
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FWIW, we were also finaled in CA without an air gap. :) Some cities will allow exceptions to the air gap requirement if you use a dishwasher that specifically does not call for one in installation, which we did (Miele, but I believe also some of the other European brands). Code also requires that appliances be installed in keeping with manufacturer instructions so we successfully argued that the two were in conflict and it was illogical to require the air gap, since the Miele has its own system to get to the same end; our inspector agreed. Several cities even have specific policies on this, though ours wasn't among them.

We do any major work with permits because, as fori noted, in this area it affects home sales prices. I'm not so concerned with smaller projects, though. CA is a stickler for permitting everything, too--definitely not the case everywhere, but here you need one for almost anything but a 6' fence or some new light fixtures.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Wi-sailorgirl and olivertwist: Your questions are brushing up against political philosophy. ( I don't mean political orientation, I mean actual philosophy about political organization. It is a legitimate question what you can do on your own property without interference from your neighbors. However, it is also a legitimate concern of your neighbors that you do nothing that endangers them. For example, if your DH plumbs your sink poorly, it could introduce sewage into their potable water. (Don't believe me? Take a look at the pictures in Atichokey's link.) Thus, your neighbors have an interest in making sure you use this shared resource safely.

A more subtle issue, of course, regards your own safety. Should your neighbors, through political organization, be able to force you to avoid certain risks? Clearly, there are many laws that seek that aim. (Motorcycle helmets, seat belts...) I am not taking a stand on these, but they certainly exist. Some of that same principle applies to safety features within your home. (Fire and CO detectors.) Some of these laws and requirements also serve to protect visitors to your home. (GFCI circuits in your bathroom.)

You and your neighbors have (likely) decided to band together and employ people to respond to fires in any homes in your neighborhood. Your neighbors have an interest that you don't create conditions that are likely to use that service, nor to cause undue risk to the personnel they have hired to provide that service.

Does that help?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:02PM
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