If you have a residential property that has undergone a remodel, addition, or other renovations and modifications (such as upgrades, additions, or replacement of electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, roofing, pool/ or spa), it is possible that some construction defects or violations currently exist, although concealed to you. Even if the work was performed by licensed contractors and has been inspected and approved by the local building department, this is no assurance that the property is defect-free. Although you may not even want to know every defect or flaw in your home, you certainly would want to know those that affect your health and safety. If you currently own a property fitting this description, it may benefit you to consider scheduling the building for one of our detailed, comprehensive, and independent “Construction Defect Inspections”.
It has been my experience that especially in what I refer to as the “out-of-sight- out-of-mind” area such as attics and sub floor crawlspaces, the highest number of defects will be located. Contractors and tradesmen sometimes compromise work quality in these difficult-to-access regions as they know the likelihood of their work being seen by you, much less inspected by qualified individual, in theses limited-spaces and not-often-seen areas is very low. Our inspections have revealed that the type, severity, and resulting significance of these defects can range from simple workmanship / quality issues to serious health and safety concerns for the building occupants.
You quite possibly are asking yourself the question “How can this be?” The answer to this question can be traced to three contributing sources:
1. Contractor Qualifications:
As an independent 3rd party professional inspector with over 35 years in the professions, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the knowledge, experience, qualifications, and resulting work quality will differ dramatically from various contractors. While it is always advised that you only enlist contractors and companies that are “legitimate” (i.e., licensed, bonded and insured), this by itself, is no guarantee your project will be completed in a proper workmanlike and safe manner. One typically assumes that the contractor / company they hire are professionals and know what they are doing. They further assume that the individual doing the actual work has a high degree of integrity to work with such responsibility. However we all know this is not always the case.
2. Inadequately Trained Contractor’s Workforce:
This may be the single most contributing factor to our ever-increasing situation of sub-standard construction, while the contractor you hire may be licensed and qualified, who is actually performing the work? More and more, in an attempt to cut job costs, and secure more projects, contractors are only bidding the project, signing and submitting the contract, with very minimal ( if any ) actual hands on work. The majority of the actual work is usually completed by workers often under supervised and lacking in skills for the responsibility given to them.
3. Municipal Building Department Shortcomings:
As a general contractor I have scheduled and witnessed first-hand many project “progress” and “final” inspections preformed by the various local city and county building inspectors. Much like their contractor counterparts, government inspector’s experience and knowledge will vary significantly, even within the same department. It has been my experience that: 1) Some inspectors do not know the applicable code sections exist, 2) They incorrectly interpret / apply the applicable code section to the installation, 3) Elect to waive the code completely, if they feel that the installation meets the “intent” of the code. (Which is highly subjective). Add to this the fact that nearly all building departments are understaffed and overworked / over scheduled, making many inspection stops a day. Generally, this only allows for cursory, (15-20 minutes maximum) oftentimes only random, inspection of job site conditions. Finally, I have always found it interesting that municipal inspectors, unlike private inspectors are protected by “sovereign immunity” meaning that they cannot be held liable for their negligence (i.e. missing defects or code violations) unless it is an intentional act or malice or criminal intent. In summary, city / county inspections should realistically be seen for what they are and that is a system put in place for your protection to do the best job it can with the resources it has. Unfortunately those resources in a skilled workforce, time allowed for the inspection to be done and accountability to the consumer are suffering substantially in many areas.