What Commercial Inspectors Should Know about Code

Inspection training

As a commercial inspector, you should be familiar with building codes.

Inspection training prepares home and commercial inspectors to assess many systems and structures for adequacy, but it does not render them experts on the many and varied building codes.

Building inspectors are employed by a city or town to ensure that buildings are constructed according to code. Only these inspectors can issue code violations — commercial inspectors only write reports and recommendations.

Many municipalities have regulations in place that call for each stage of a building’s construction to undergo a separate inspection before the next phase can begin.

Building codes call for specifics like using particular size nails for framing. Not only would it be impossible to tell the size of a nail that is already in the frame, but it also would not be possible to see once the walls are finished. This is why the inspection is done in stages, and it’s also why a commercial inspector is not responsible for noticing such violations, should any exist.

Inspection Training Code Basics

Not only are building codes lengthy and complex, but builders must follow not just federal code, but separate codes for cities, towns, states and sometimes counties. Some municipalities have checklists available online that commercial inspectors can use as a rough guideline for specifics to look out for when performing inspections.

These commercial building codes may include regulations for drywall, foundations, exterior lath, insulation, roofing and masonry as well as electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems.

Beyond these, inspectors should also be familiar with National Fire Protection Association codes. This code sets forth rules for fire extinguishing systems, sprinklers and alarms; storage of hazardous materials such as gasoline; and incorporates some regulations on electrical systems with the goal of minimizing fire risk.

Inspection Training for Violations

Some of the most common code violations are easy to spot. Some possible examples include exterior doors that open out onto sidewalks, handrails that are at the wrong height or are inadequately secured, bulging or leaning retaining walls, inadequate drainage, evidence of leaks and missing or improper fire-blocking materials.

A commercial inspection also might reveal shifts in grade, which manifest as sloped areas on floors. Sinking or shifting concrete can threaten the structural integrity of a building as well as compromise the plumbing or electrical systems. Sloped floors can sometimes be corrected by raising the sinking section, but corrective measures — usually in the form of drainage improvements — must be implemented in order for the repair to last.

Home inspection

The ADA mandates aspects of construction such as the width of doors and the manner in which they open and close.

Other codes commercial inspectors should familiarize themselves with include Americans with Disabilities Act codes. These can include regulations for access to buildings, width of doorways, height of sinks in restrooms, installation of grab bars in restrooms, number and dimensions of handicapped parking spaces, proper display of signage and more.

Protecting Yourself as an Inspector

Your contract for a commercial inspection should differ from the contract you use for home inspections, should you perform both. It should spell out what you customarily do and do not inspect and outline your responsibilities and guarantees. It’s best to have your lawyer check over this document before you start using it.

Beyond this, as there are no set rules for commercial inspections and they can vary widely, discuss ahead of time with your client what they expect from the inspection. You can tailor your services and adjust your prices based on the depth and scope of the work you will do.

Your inspection training through ICA School prepares you thoroughly for home and commercial inspections, and we provide a wealth of information in our online library for those interested in conducting further research. For more information, check out our website today

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