Although you do technically inspect buildings, a commercial inspector and a building inspector are in fact quite different.
There are no federal guidelines or licensing requirements to serve as a commercial building inspector, although some states and municipalities have requirements for obtaining a license or completing continuing education classes.
Inspection Training Requirements
Florida, for instance, has a requirement that inspectors must take a 120-hour course and pass a state exam to work in the state. Montana, on the other hand, has no requirements, so there is not much uniformity across the profession.
This makes it possible for commercial inspectors to not only define the parameters of their job but change them for each client if they so desire. Commercial building inspections can be on the superficial side, or they can be fairly in-depth. Some owners just want an inspector to sign off so the lender is satisfied; others wish to have a true vetting.
Although most cities and towns also do not require building inspectors to take classes or pass a test, they do not have the luxury of deciding what they will and will not include in an inspection — this is decided for them.
Building Inspection Training
Unlike commercial inspectors, who usually work for themselves or a private company, building inspectors are employed by cities or towns and are charged with enforcing local codes and regulations. This can be a monumental job, as some code books run to the hundreds of pages and legislate all manner of minutiae. Moreover, these codes change frequently — usually every year — and the building inspector has to stay abreast of any and all alterations.
For this reason, those who have had prior experience as builders, engineers, architects or similar professions have an easier time achieving success as a building inspector. However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, entry-level building inspectors typically have a high school education or the equivalent.
And it’s not just building codes that the inspectors have to make sure the construction company is adhering to; it’s zoning ordinances and the contract as well.
Any new building must pass inspection before an occupancy permit can be issued, but many types of buildings also must be inspected at designated points during the construction. For instance, studs for framing and the nails used to hold them together often must be a specific length or size. Wall insulation may be required, and a particular R-value may be specified as well. Whether these regulations have been adhered to must be confirmed before the drywall is installed.
Parameters of Commercial Inspections
Comparatively speaking, commercial inspectors have it a bit easier than building inspectors. Commercial inspectors are often their own bosses and can make their own hours, whereas building inspectors are usually full-time employees of the government.
Commercial inspectors are also not bound to the strict rules and regulations that building inspectors must enforce. Similarly, commercial inspectors do not have the power to shut a building down or refuse to issue a permit.
Commercial building inspection training is part of the ICA School curriculum for home inspectors. If you are interested in learning more about becoming a commercial building inspector, visit our online home inspector training page.