What to Know About Building Inspections

By Brian Sugarman on May 21, 2021
Tags: Construction

inspector examining wall as part of building inspections

 

Inspecting buildings is not an easy task, as you already know as a contractor or manager of a construction company. Perhaps you’re facing one of your first building inspections, though, and need more information about how they work.

Keep reading to learn about what happens during a building inspection. You’ll learn about the inspection stages, what inspectors check, why inspections are important, the inspector’s role, types of inspections, inspection checklists, and new inspection apps available.

 

What occurs during a typical building inspection?

The building inspector is there to make sure there isn’t a problem with the structure before it’s bought, rented, or leased. This first means doing one important thing: inspecting the structure and grounds to make sure they comply with all regulations.

To start, the inspector inspects the exterior of the building for any structural problems. They usually check more than the structural integrity of the building outside. It also means checking outdoor handrails, stairs, or even parking areas nearby.

Going inside the building, the inspector then checks the interior walls for signs of any issues. It goes beyond checking how the walls are structured and into signs of mold or cracks. Checking for water damage is also done since this is sometimes hard to detect with the naked eye.

 

From there, the inspection starts to get more detailed:

Checking doors and windows

Inspecting windows and doors means looking for cracks or other issues that might prevent them from being opened. Emergency exits are carefully inspected to ensure employees or residents can easily open them in the event of a disaster.

The electrical system

An inspection of the electrical system in a building is absolutely essential since one missed flaw in the building’s wiring could mean a future fire hazard. Your inspector checks all the circuit breakers as starters. Also checked are the building’s lights and general security systems.

Plumbing

Making sure the building’s plumbing system is working is equally important as the electrical. Even a minor leak in a pipe could bring considerable damage to a building in the months or years to come. Inspectors look at all fixtures on the premises and check their water pressure.

Fire safety equipment

All fire alarms are checked, plus sprinkler systems to ensure they’ll operate efficiently when or if a fire occurs in the building.

Roof inspection

Next, the inspector goes on the roof to checks its condition. Leaks are checked for here, including whether the roof can hold up under specific weight from snow or ice.

Ductwork and vents

HVAC systems in buildings need very careful inspection. These often hide flaws that require extra inspection time. Thermostats are checked thoroughly to make sure they have proper filters. You’ll know whether any potential mechanical failures or fire hazards are there.

 

Other stages of building inspection

As you can see, the stages of a building inspection are very detailed and usually take a full day if not more. Much of this depends on how large the building is.

Inspecting is only one part of the job. Each inspector also has to organize numerous forms, reports, and other important paperwork. It’s all part of the job of having to physically write down what they encounter during the inspection.

Working with physical forms is slightly problematic in today’s time with so much complexity in inspecting buildings. An inspector can easily lose many of their forms in their vehicles or during the inspection process.

Many of those forms are being digitized as apps nowadays to make work easier. Using apps like this also helps with other inspection stages, which might include:

  • Filling out quality control sheets
  • Creating dilapidation reports
  • Creating good condition reports
  • Handling building permits
  • Pest/termite inspection reports
  • Building code violation checklists
  • Filling out safety and health forms
  • Asbestos testing

 

Why are building inspections so important?

Without a building inspection, a number of things can obviously go wrong. While it might seem inconvenient to have the scrutiny of a building inspection, it’s for your own (and everyone’s) safety.

As a construction company or contractor, a building’s structural integrity rests on your shoulders. Should something go wrong and cause injury or death, you might be legally responsible for any damages.

Working closely with a building inspector means being able to scope out any potential fire hazards, or other safety risks posing dangers to people. Something as simple as inspecting a wall, for instance, could scope out the soundness of the building’s structure, not including potential mold issues. Or, the wall might be hiding termites you had no idea were there.

So many building issues are hidden, something only an inspector can find. Being able to find them out means you’ll save your own professional integrity. The building’s owner might discover something wrong and expect you to fix it right away, potentially costing both of you major money.

 

The role of the building inspector

No one should consider a building inspector to be a burden. A professional inspector will always be courteous and give a fair, educated inspection to save your reputation.

Their role is to also help you avoid any kind of fines from violating regulations or specific building codes. Zoning regulations are often complex and can easily be overlooked within the chaos of construction. Inspectors alert you to any kind of violations you might have missed.

Also know that building inspectors may inspect the site before you even construct the building. With an inspector’s knowledge of construction and engineering, they may have to write up violation forms or even stop-work orders.

 

Different types of building inspections

Building inspections vary based on what type of building it is. Some inspections are done on the construction site itself. Others take place after the building is built.

In the pre-build phase, the inspector might have to:

  • Conduct a land survey prior to construction to make sure the land is safe to build on.
  • Review all your construction blueprints and building plans.
  • Check the foundation depth before the rest of the building is constructed.

During the construction phase, it might mean the inspector inspecting all your construction equipment to make sure it’s also safe. Another major aspect is inspecting the crane you’re using if building a multi-story structure.

Also during construction, the inspector verifies proper alignment and leveling of the building during the building phase.

Inspectors like this might be different from the ones who inspect the building after it’s completed. Often, inspectors are separated into specific categories. Some will focus just on electrical, plumbing, or mechanical inspections. Others are educated to inspect homes only.

Most important is to respect an inspector’s knowledge. Considering they have degrees in engineering and architecture, they’ll be able to find any flaw in your building.

 

Apps and software for building inspections

The age of building inspectors using paper for all their forms is starting to come to an end. This is a good thing because with the complexity of their job, losing inspection forms or permits could lead to confusion and more time amending errors.

Over the last five years, more building inspectors are starting to use apps and software to handle their enormous tasks. Best of all is being able to use apps the inspector can take with them to use on their mobile device.

An added bonus to working with these apps is that it allows new intuitive features to help make data entry less stressful. Plus, with the use of more advanced technology, more analytical insights are made available in real-time an inspector could never see using paper in years past.

Data is available in real-time and shared with colleagues instantly. Information is automatically saved to the cloud to avoid any risk or liability of losing paper forms. Analytic trends on apps also offer insights into field operations, something only possible before when the inspector returned to the office.

 

Create reports and checklists on a phone or tablet

Imagine how much time is saved by a building inspector being able to compile reports on something like a tablet. Even a simple smartphone can hold all the information they need, removing a major hurdle of handling paper forms when entering the building.

Building inspections are done more efficiently this way with lesser chances of making mistakes. GoCanvas digital forms have become the leader in providing these apps. As a result, it’s helping many more building inspectors be able to streamline how they work.

Working with us, inspectors can:

  • Create their own custom mobile apps.
  • Collect all the data they need right on their phones.
  • Instantly share all inspection data with co-workers or customers.

Our apps and software are proven to give a seven-month ROI, plus a 24% productivity rate. Out of all the users we’ve tested, most use GoCanvas for construction inspections, but also for checklists, work orders, safety reports, audits, and inventory.

Above all, our software can easily integrate well with other business apps like Salesforce, Dropbox, or Google Drive.

Visit us to find out more about how our GoCanvas apps and software work with a free demo.