The Inspector isn’t Always Right

The Inspector isn’t Always Right

Few things are as frustrating in the construction industry as having a building or home come to a screeching halt due to a failed county or city inspection. Whether you’re hoping to close in the framing with sheetrock or looking for permission for the owner to occupy the structure, just about every project is on a tight schedule and any stoppage can cost time and money. Subcontractor schedules may have to be adjusted, material deliveries rearranged and even worse, you may have to tell the customer their new home or business isn’t going to be ready on time.

It’s bad enough when the failed inspection is due to a mistake by your crew or a sub-contractor, but what if it’s due to a misinterpretation of the code by the inspector? Unfortunately, many of the codes used by cities and counties aren’t cut and dry – there are many gray areas that are left up to the individual inspector to make a determination based on the situation. The nature of construction almost makes this a necessity and it’s normally not a problem unless you and the inspector don’t see eye to eye.

So what are the options when you have one of these situations arise? Unless you’re concerned with proving a point, simple problems are normally best solved by making the change the inspector asks for – it’s a lot easier and cheaper moving or adding an electrical outlet than letting the home sit for several days – especially if there happens to be a moving van parked out front.

However, not every point of contention is quite that simple – some can be very time consuming and expensive to change and there aren’t too many contractors who like to hear those words these days. If you have a code book on site or can pull the section in question up on the Internet, many inspectors are willing to listen to your interpretation and may change their mind in your favor. If you don’t happen to have one of those types of inspectors, having a meeting with their supervisor often helps.

When all else fails, many jurisdictions have a building committee that can make a decision on these types of matters. While this might seem extreme, if you’re faced with tearing out several condo buildings worth of exterior stairs due to an inspector’s interpretation of the maximum riser height that doesn’t agree with yours, you might be very grateful for this resource.

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Posted on Dec 21, 2011 by admin | Posted in Building Inspectors, Construction Project Management, Government Regulations

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