This is one of those situations where being married to a lawyer is useful - a secondary call later and the inspector was scheduled to come out the following morning. The inspector was aghast - the previous owner had bent several important pipes and cut off a connection that was integral to create a junction for the 5 gallon tanks (all the while, there is a connection where it would have been simple to connect a smaller tank to the main one). He did leave us a lovely folding chair that was originally used to hold the small canisters of propane, so score one for the lawn furniture!
Much grumbling of both husband and inspector later, we have propane running into the house and water that does heat up. This, however, made it apparent that our gas stove is not currently working... but that is another project for another day.