Anyone who has watched a building under construction can appreciate its complexity and sophistication. Occasionally, inspection and testing requirements occur that the local code official may not be qualified or experienced to address, so third-party assistance is needed.
The model building codes address this need through a specific requirement for structural tests and “special” inspections. A special inspection can be required for materials, installation, fabrication, erection or placement of components and connections where special expertise is needed. The cost of the special inspection is covered by the project owner or the registered design professional.
The following table identifies some of the special inspections required by the codes. It is not an exhaustive list, so be certain to check your locally adopted code for required special inspections.
|Inspection||Inspection function (examples)|
|Steel construction||Verify integrity of framing welds, joints and high-strength bolts, locations of bracing and stiffening materials.|
|Concrete construction||Check reinforcing steel, connecting bolts, application technique, strength, required design mix and curing maintenance.|
|Masonry construction||Assess mortar joint construction, grout placement, reinforcement welding and prestressing techniques.|
|Wood construction||Check high-load diaphragms, framing members at panel edges, nail or staple diameters and length.|
|Pile and pier foundations||Evaluate materials, sizes, lengths, placement, plumbness, diameters and embeddedness.|
|Soils||Test soil classification, bearing capacity, fill quality and density.|
|Sprayed fire-resistant materials||Measure thickness; density; and bond strength to floors, walls and structural elements.|
|Mastics and intumescent coatings||Establish compliance with Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries standards.|
|Smoke control||Verify performance, operation and interaction with other systems and controls.|
|Special cases||Validate unusual designs, materials that must be installed to manufacturer’s specifications, alternate methods and materials.|
May is Building Safety Month
|Week 1 May 1-5|
Partnering with code officials to build stronger, safer communities
|Week 2 May 6-12|
Advancing Resilient Communities Through Science and Technology
|Week 3 May 13-19|
Protecting Communities from Disasters
|Week 4 May 20-26|
Safeguarding Our Water
|Week 5 May 27-31|
Improving Education and Training Standards for a Safer Tomorrow
Action step to learn more about special inspections
Enroll in these National Fire Academy (NFA) courses: Fire Inspection Principles I (R0390) and Plans Review for Fire and Life Safety (R0393). The courses are available at the NFA in Emmitsburg, Maryland, or through your state fire service training agency.