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Dennis's Forum Posts: 6
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By Dennis in Pikeville, TN on 1/27/2009

We purchased land in Bledsoe County, Tennessee to build our retirement home. We understand that the only inspections required for the home will be septic and electric. How can we be assured that the subs will build based on 'approved' methods when no structural inspections will occur?


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By Michael in Garden Grove, CA on 1/27/2009


We ran into the same situation in our county except they don't even require the electrical inspection.

There are several books available that address performance standards and code compliance. One that I have is,"Residential & Light Commercial Construction Standards", available from RS Means. also has several books on all of the trades. I purchased "Home Builder Contracts & Construction Management Forms "; this book contains a number of forms that would not apply to the owner-builder, however, it also contains a comprehensive roster of specifications and inspection checklists for home construction. All of which are included on a CD that comes with the book, so you may modify them to your specific project. This book also contains contracts, checklists, trade contractor information forms, lien waivers, change orders, purchase orders, and bid sheets.

I plan to modify many of these to my situation and include them in my bid request package. Subcontractors will know up front what is expected of them and that payment is contingent on compliance with specifications as measured by the inspection checklists.

Additionally, I would add that your greatest asset is going to be educating yourself on all aspects of your build. I would advise you to arm yourself well with at least a good library of best practices for the different trades and the code book of the governing body for your region.

You are also going to need to be available on the job site at least four hrs. every day that there are subs onsite, preferably the same time slot daily.

 Good luck,



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By DCG in Lago Vista, TX on 1/27/2009

Do the subs know the inspection requirements for where you're building? As an owner-builder, if you're worried about the quality of the work - hire an inspector.

If you're worried about subs that might not perform as well as they could because they know that there will not be an inspector, I'd tell them that there is going to be an engineer/inspector coming out... And perhaps write contractual language in their contracts that details that their final payment is pending an inspection within an X-day period.

As an owner-builder, we have no required inspections in my area. Regardless, we've had professional inspectors come in for framing, electrical, and plumbing due to an alternate requirement (but that's another story).  The issues that I had questions on were not resolved by these inspectors who didn't specialize or know much about things like foam insulation.

For one-off questions, I did a bit of posting on professional inspector forums with very good photos. Super helpful.  If contractors balk at the issues raised, then we bring in an inspector as necessary for that particular issue.  Most subs want to do a good job, especially if payment is pending... :-)

Your disadvantage is that you're an owner builder and technically a one-off.  There isn't additional work pending doing a good job on this one project...


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By Lisa in Locust Dale, VA on 2/11/2009

In my county in VA, we have certain inspections and even a requirement for a well to be drilled and water available BEFORE you get a building permit. I suggest as a minimum that you hold the last percentage of payment (10-20%) until inspected by the county or hired inspector. The key inspections I have to pass here are electrical, plumbing, septic, safety (stair risers right height, fire-delay ceiling for room over garage etc...) 

You can also pay a  percent for a certain amount of work done in an area like electrical. This is a real fluid example here:

40% parts and labor - circuit box installed and all wires pulled and then when all outlets connected. Inspector looks at it before drywall put up.

40% parts and labor - all plates on wall, lights/fans and your appliances hooked up and getting juice (all tested); make sure GFCI plugs are working.

20% when inspector gives final OK for occupancy in case something does not work (like drywall tech punches into wire and you have to sort out whose fault it is, his or the electrician's.)



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