Toilet flange

How to deal with structural changes

and especially difficult city inspectors

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It's permits inspection time again - unfortunately, it's inevitable when it comes to kitchen and bathroom remodeling. It seems as though you cannot have a construction job without a surprise, setback, or snafoo or two. This would be no exception, nor would it be the first or the last.

The city inspector rejected something that is something very common in bathroom remodeling. The outcome of an unlucky inspector draw can be expensive - big money out of your pocket to correct something that should have been approved in the first place.

Hear my story on this, and read it through. There's a good lesson to be learned by the end of this article - one that can save you time and money - big money.

Lets begin: The flooring in the bathroom was originally vinyl on top of plywood subflooring - pretty normal stuff, and likewise, the toilet flange for the sewage line came to about the same level as the floor. A wax gasket would seal the connection between the toilet and the toilet flange - typical.

But once the tile is installed, the floor becomes about one inch higher than it was before - cement backer board and tiles glued with a thick layer of mastic type adhesive add up to about an inch.

This higher floor leaves the toilet flange well below the level of the floor. Not a problem, the contractor advises as he explains there are common, simple spacer adapters available to handle these situations at a trivial cost.

Unfortunately, the city inspector did not agree. During a mid-way inspection, he ordered the original flange replaced and raised up to the height of the floor.

Our highly experienced contractor had never heard of such a ridiculous ruling. It just goes to show - you never know what you're going to get with these city inspectors. How in the world could just one inspector have a problem with this kind of thing? Perhaps he's filling in for a real inspector and his normal duties include rain gutters, weed patrol, and cat-box vent inspection. Who knows...

That's how subjective the inspection process is - luck of the draw. If you're unlucky enough to get one of these lousy, unknowledgable inspectors, their bogus decisions hit you in the pocket - you get to pay for unnecessary work - yippee.

The inspection process is necessary - it protects us homeowners - there's no doubt about that. But when there's so much misconception and subjectiveness amongst the inspectors, the process becomes intolerable.

Anyway, back to the subject - somehow, the workers managed to remove the old flange - one that had been there for over 40 years and performing under very harsh and rust prone environment. How they did that baffles me to this day.

They replaced the flange with some special higher profile flange that would come up to floor level, needing no spacer. The result is the same as using a spacer, but it cost a lot more - thanks to one bad apple in the San Jose City inspectors office - no doubt someone who has lived here for far less time than myself.

There is something to be learned from all this this though, something that can save you considerable amounts of time and money. It turns out that there is an appeal process for ridiculous rulings like this, and your contractor needs to be the one to stick to his guns and do this on your behalf.

Your contractor wont make any extra money by appealing extra 'gift' work, but if he expresses surprise by an inspection - call him on it - push back on this one. All he needs to do is to have a supervisor come out to the site to give a ruling.

These supervisors are often much more reasonable and intelligent than the front-line inspector drones. They will often sign off on a job that would otherwise cost big money to fix - without need.

Having said all that, here today's pictures illustrating just what this expensive "problem" was all about...

Picture 1: Toilet flange before
Picture 2: Toilet flange - 1 before tile - 1
Picture 3: Toilet flange - 2 before tile - 2
Picture 4: Toilet flange with floor tile
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