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Special Report 23: Interviews with independent inspectors - Electronic Edition

Special Report 23: Interviews with independent inspectors - Electronic Edition
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Author: Mark A. Smith
[This is the Special Report 23 in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. Our electronic products download immediately to your computer upon purchase.]

Talking to this group is like talking to reformed smokers. They are on a crusade for quality construction and savvy project management. They beat the drum for building it right the first time. Don't miss this one. Revised and updated with new reader tips, web links and comments.

Topics include:

  • Difference between municipal and independent inspector
  • Costs and fee schedules
  • What they inspect and how long it takes
  • Complexity of building codes
  • Owner-builder disasters
  • Foundations, carpentry, deck deflection
  • Insulation, sheetrock, moisture barriers, shingles
  • Successful owner-builders

Excerpt from Report:

"...Q. What areas of the building code are of particular concern for owner-builders?

A. People who are building their own house sometimes use me as a buffer. Sometimes the builder wants to punch me in the nose. I see that if a thing is wrong I ask them to correct it. I am always legally liable for my inspections and very precise. Framing, roofing, foundation. I don't do a drive-by. Some people have tried to hire me as a superintendent or owner's representative on the job site. I went from a general inspector to a forensic inspector investigating "cause and origins". You'll have a better performing dwelling if you have a knowledgeable strict person.

For instance, a wood truss. I need to inspect the quality of material, if they don't put the same species of lumber and grade, on the lower chord, there is stress that causes warpage. And you see a wavy roof.

At the beginning, I want to see the cut of the lot, see how they dig the trench. See the color of the dirt, the strata. We have hillside creep here. Laminations become lubricated in the wet season, and slip and slide. Foundation inspection is next, then a steel inspection. Rebar. I want to inspect and have them pour the same day. Stem wall. Framing inspection when the floor is down. Ballast and grading before they pour the slab. Roofing, siding, vapor barriers, veneer, then electrical, plumbing and heating, did they reinforce all cuts, structural integrity before they sheetrock, then I want to see double nail inch apart 10 inches on center, or single screws ten inches apart. Some nails pop into a knot. They will start working back out. Screws you know. Then I make sure the bedding, cement, and taping, with sanding, so that texture isn't used to hide bumps and ridges. I don't like fingerjoint trim. I like single run stuff, one piece.

If you accumulate the time, you have fully twenty hours of inspection. Invariably people add something to the design, canopy, sidewalk, and I bill by the month. My fee saves maintenance costs. Spray paint can bounce. Surface prep is crucial..."

Sample Reader Tip Excerpts:

"I also relied on the inspector a lot."
Lynn H.
Tremonton, UT

"The guy I got was $1,400 and I was able to call and ask about scuppers, for example. I was able to ask for any information I wanted. He comes out for inspections, and any information I want to ask on the phone. He doesn't seem to mind giving me lots of info, sometimes taking 45 minutes with me on the phone. He helped with some technical things on the plans. Things that people were resisting doing, but they are in the plans. He does 7-8 inspections."...
Kathi D.
Tucson, AZ

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