City of Houston Inspections / A/C Process
Replacing equipment on your Air Conditioning & Heating System and live in the City of Houston, TX? If Yes, then you will need the HVAC work permitted and inspected.
Above is an approved Air Conditioning inspection for a high efficiency system installation. If the installation and inspection goes smoothly this is what you will end up with in the end. A magnificent florescent green piece of paper to say that the government is now off your back.
Yes, you need it.... Its the law. All new air conditioning or furnace system equipment must be inspected by the City of Houston. Every Home in Houston Texas that undergoes major replacement of any air conditioning equipment REQUIRES:
1. City Issued Permit
2. City Inspection (by city inspector)
I did not make this up. Quoting Houston's Code Enforcement Division
"All construction or work for which a permit is required shall be subject to inspection by the building official and all such construction or work shall remain accessible and exposed for inspection purposes until approved by the building official"
Now there are exceptions to every rule. In this case, you do not need a permit if you do NOT live in the City of Houston. Easiest way to check this is by going to hcad.org . Some people live in unincorporated harris county where there is no governing body to inspect homes. Contractors are still required to hold to Mechanical Law however no one is coming behind to check on the work.
WHY ARE MECHANICAL HVAC PERMITS REQUIRED BY THE CITY OF HOUSTON?
The city of Houston requires permits and inspections for several reasons. Yes, It can be inconvenient I know and it can be a nuisance. You may also think that this is just one more way for the city to make money. It is, HOWEVER the PRIMARY FUNCTION OF THE CITY OF HOUSTON PERMIT DIVISION IS TO PROTECT THE CITIZENS OF HOUSTON, TX. Required city inspections serve the purpose of ensuring that contractors hold to International Mechanical Code which in turn protects you the consumer.
Permitting also ensures that your contractor is licensed by the State of Texas and is Registered with the City.
WARNING: Do NOT use a contractor who is not licensed and WILL NOT have the home inspected after completing any HVAC system replacement. This is a huge liability on you. Yes you will have to pay more for a license contractor but your peace of mind is worth it the few extra dollars - trust us on this.
PROCESS FOR A RESIDENTIAL CITY PERMIT
1. Registration - All contractors must register with the City of Houston if they intend to perform work within the city limits during the year. Contractors cannot pull permits without being registered. There are also many smaller cities in and around houston. Contractors must also register in those cities as well(if they intent to perform work there). Examples include, Bunker Hill Village, West University Place, Sugarland etc. There are also many areas in Harris County that are NOT incorporated. These homes have not municipality that requires city inspection. Registration typically includes a fee paid to the city. Sometimes this is as low as $20 or as high as $200.
2. Pulling Permit - Once an HVAC contractor and a home owner agree on a date for a new AC installation the contractor will then contact the City of Houston(or other municipality) to apply for and pay for the required permit. Fees are often times charged based on the amount charged to the customer. (i.e. the city will charge a percentage of the total ticket.) Currently this charge is 6% of the total ticket and normally raises each year. This fee covers the inspection of the system. Permits are to be applied for before work begins on a home.
3. Scheduling Inspection - Once work is completed on the house and shown to be working the home owner and HVAC contractor will work together to schedule a time for the city to arrive and give the final inspection. These visits by the city are often times very quick lasting no longer than 30 minutes in total unless there are some additional issues. An Inspector will then give either a passing grade or a fail and notate what needs to be altered. Often times these appointment can be very inconvenient for customers however the city has also allowed for the time frames to be narrowed down to two hour windows. Sometimes HVAC contractors do not offer these time slots as they create another step for the contractor but ensure that you get a time window that is more convenient to you.
4. PASS - FAIL : If the job passes then you are through. Your home is more comfortable and the city has provided their seal of approval for the work. IF NOT? If the system failed inspection then the AC repair company must then make the necessary alterations then reschedule the inspector. This process will repeat if the system is still not up to standard.