If you have been reading the papers lately, you have probably noticed several articles regarding private inspections of building projects. Most notably, a City of St. Paul lawsuit against Representative Phil Krinkie was dismissed from court, and Krinkie and St. Paul reached a mutual agreement about the issues. Here’s a link to a Jan. 11 Strib article: St. Paul, Krinkie settle legal dispute over inspectors. The whole problem started when Representaive Krinkie proposed legislation allowing individuals to hire private building inspectors for projects….instead of relying on the various City, County or Township inspectors to do the job. This legislation will most likely surface again this session. Unfortunately, the important issue behind this legislation is not necessarily who performs the inspections, but rather that the inspections are done.
An important part of any building project is the inspection process. This starts the day a building permit is issued and goes on until the end of the project. On most projects, there will be anywhere from 7 to 15 separate inspections required. The typical inspections will be for footings, foundation, framing, insulation, drywall, plumbing, heating, fireplace(s), electrical, etc. Most contractors realize the importance of inspections and arrange the inspections on their own. Generally the inspections are tracked on the building permit card that is maintained on the site. If you have a question about an inspection it is easy to verify if one was completed for a particular phase of a project by examining the permit card. The most important inspection for all projects is the final inspection. Following a satisfactory final inspection, a Certificate of Occupany is issued. This gives the homeowner or business owner proof that the project was constructed to the specific listed requirements, and that it passed inspection. A Certificate of Occupancy is often one of the required documents necessary to close on a new mortgage.
Getting back to the dispute about private or public inspections, I don’t feel it really matters who performs the inspections as long as they are qualified and licensed by the appropriate body. I’ve met some wonderful private inspectors that are very knowledgeable and I’ve met some public inspectors that shouldn’t be on a site….and vice versa. As long as an inspector shows up when scheduled and understands building codes, most contractors will be happy with them.