We see the term “Authority Having Jurisdiction” or “AHJ” all the time. But what does this mean?
The AHJ is the organization, office, or individual responsible for approving equipment, materials, an installation or a procedure [80.2]. The AHJ isn’t necessarily only one of the above. The AHJ always includes the chief electrical inspector and/or other individuals designated by the governing authority. The “governing authority” is identified by state law.
What can an AHJ do? Annex H lists 12 powers of the AHJ in 80.13. These are in a list of 16 items about the AHJ. Take time to read and understand these, if your job responsibilities may bring you in contact with the AHJ.
Just to highlight these a bit, the AHJ can:
• Render interpretations of the Code, where requirements aren’t clear [80.13(1)].
Tip: If an interpretation is needed, prepare for it by outlining for the AHJ a logical argument for the interpretation you’ve come up with. This will make the AHJ’s job easier and help reduce conflicts. Where possible, draw from related NEC requirements.
• Bring in police, fire, and other enforcement agencies if you refuse to comply [80.13(4)].
Tip: If you disagree with the AHJ, make it clear that you will comply with the AHJ’s decision, but that you want to discuss the decision to make sure it’s right.
• Require that work be exposed for inspection [80.13(13)].
Tip: If an inspection is scheduled or will be scheduled, don’t cover any work the inspector may want to see. Doing so may be costly if you have to rip out finished work.
If you think of the AHJ as an adversary, you will inevitably make mistakes that cause project delays and cost overruns. If you get into a power struggle, you will always lose to the AHJ.
If you see the AHJ as your ally, your mindset will have you doing things that make life easier for the both of you. And that’s the winning situation you want.