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City and County Building Inspections

As new property is developed and the remodeling of existing property takes place, it is common for a Public Inspector to inspect the work performed. This process is commonly misunderstood and can raise a few questions.

What Are They Looking For?

The Building Codes are the minimum requirements for life and safety. They are looking for violations of this minimum standard as they perform their inspection.

Does This Process Ensure Compliance?

An inspection by a Public Entity is not intended to ensure complete code compliance. This process is a form of checks and balances. The Contractor is liable for their action and should know the building codes and understand any manufacturer’s requirements. The job of the City or County Inspector is to perform a spot check of the work performed to ensure a reasonable level of compliance.

What Percentage Does the Inspector Cover?

The truth is that the Public Inspector may have an opportunity to inspect five to ten percent of the entire project. It is not possible for the Inspector to sit at the job and observe all work performed. The inspector may have anywhere from ten to eighteen inspections a day. A certain percentage of the work is likely to be correct based on the Contractors knowledge. However, the Public Inspector is also likely to find a few items that need correction. This process does not guarantee 100% compliance. There will be violations missed that may be out of view or outside the Inspectors specific knowledge.

Then Why Do We Pay For Permits?

This process assists in the detection of code violation but is not an assurance of proper installation or construction. The Public Inspector will attempt to detect as many violations as possible but does not have the time to catch them all. This process helps to police the construction industry and ensure some form of quality.

Is The Public Inspector Liable?

It is not likely that your local Public Inspector or any Public Entity is liable based on the typical Government Codes. Most Government Codes indicate that “a public entity is not liable for inadequate inspections” and that they are “immune from intentional misrepresentation”. However please note that there is a good reason for this. If they were liable, then you the consumer would be paying for their defense with your tax dollars. There is no way that any insurance carrier would supply coverage for an inspector that only looks at five to ten percent of the entire job. It is truly unreasonable.

How Can We Ensure Compliance?

The only true way to ensure compliance is to have a private inspection of all aspect of construction. If you decide that this is the direction for you, then you should be sure that the inspector(s) you choose have specific knowledge of the separate systems within your dwelling. Be sure to ask for the inspector’s experience, C.V. and the proper professional liability insurance for inspections. Remember that it is not the number of years in business that ensures quality. It is the time they spend achieving professional education that defines a Professional Inspector. For Professional Fireplace & Chimney Inspectors visit Conclusion: Although the Public Inspection process serves an important roll in quality assurance, the reality is that the public inspectors are not liable. The private inspectors are liable for their action and in most cases will provide a professional consulting service for a reasonable fee. Be sure that any inspector you choose has professional inspection training and understands the building codes, their intent and all manufacturers’ requirements. A professionally trained Inspector can assist you in this process to provide a greater level of comfort. Contact your local Fireplace & Chimney Inspector today at For a list of industry links refer to “Industry Links” on this website.

City and County Building Inspections City Inspector, County Inspector, Public Inspector, Building Codes, Minimum Standards, Contractor, Compliance, Detection, Violations, Inadequate Inspections, Professional, Education, Permits, Life & Safety, Manufacturer’s Requirements

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