What Does A Building Inspector Do?

"My cousin called me up to say that he is working towards obtaining his certification as a building inspector. Both of us share the same interest for construction so I am thinking of becoming one. I’m not very familiar with this profession, so I’d like to know more about it. What does a building inspector do?"

asked by George K. from Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The main task of building inspectors is to ensure that a particular structure complies with building codes and existing ordinances and regulations. Even before construction will start, building inspectors review and interpret plans and blueprints to see if it follows safety and legal standards. When they deem that all documents are in order, they give their approval of the plans.

Building inspectors then monitor and inspect the project while construction is going on. They see to it that it is in consonance with the plans that have already been approved. They make sure that the building follows the mechanical, electrical, civil, structural concrete and masonry, structural steel and other specifications in the blueprints that have been reviewed and permitted before the actual construction started. They see to it that the plumbing, wiring and appliances are installed correctly and are in accordance with applicable regulations.

Building inspectors conduct their inspections differently but typically, they start inspecting when the construction in its initial phase. While the construction is going on, they also conduct follow up inspections to ensure continued compliance. After construction has been completed, they conduct a final comprehensive inspection and give feedback on the results.

To perform their inspections, building inspectors utilize various tools. These include survey instruments, metering devices and test equipment. Through the use of these gadgets, they are able to check if the structural alignment, level and elevation of the structure follow the local ordinances and regulations. Because of their need to see the condition of the project first-hand, building inspectors have to travel to where the construction sites are located.

Aside from performing actual field inspections, building inspectors are also responsible for keeping documentation about the project. They do this by producing status reports and other records. During the preliminary inspection, they look at the site and record its present conditions.

If they see that there are problems, they recommend possible solutions to address them. They also check the materials that have been delivered to the construction site to see if these indeed conform to the pre-approved documentation. If necessary, they perform concrete slump, soil compaction and other tests.

If building inspectors notice violations during the construction phase, they issue notices of violation and may order work to be stopped. They then talk with owners, workers and authorities to inform them of what the violations are and recommend the steps that need to be undertaken before work can be resumed.

Other tasks of building inspectors include issuing construction, relocation, demolition and occupancy permits, approving payment for contractors and checking building premises to see if it follows proper garbage disposal procedures. Onsite inspections are also performed to check that it isn’t infested with rodents and other vermin. Building inspectors who hold supervisory positions may also be tasked with the training and directing of other construction inspectors.

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