Posted by: Cheryl Savit, Kevin Cradock Builders, and EM NARI PR Committee Member
Every year EM NARI hosts a panel of building inspectors for a discussion of timely topics and to answer questions posed by our members. In November, the panel featured participants Tim Fitzgerald – Mass Inspections/Mass Submittals; James Kelly – Building Commissioner, Town of Lexington; and Peter McLaughlin, CBO – Inspector of Buildings, Town of Watertown. The panel was moderated by Justin Zeller, EM NARI President and President of Red House Design Build.
The panel discussed performing their duties during Covid and observed that it seems more difficult for the contractors than for the inspectors, but that everyone involved continues to be careful going into homes. The coordination between contractors, homeowners, and inspectors has become more challenging. McLaughlin said that what he missed most was the personal interaction with contractors and homeowners. The permitting process has shifted to online so he misses developing a relationship with the people creating projects.
Ways to Keep up with Changing Code
Fitzgerald mentioned the ICC website (ICCsafe.org) as a reference source. He also mentioned that there are training sessions and meetings for inspectors, but often they are open to contractors as well. Another resource is mass.gov/BBRS. Some manufacturers also offer classes on using their products and offer CEU credits for Certified Remodelers.
“I don’t feel any joy in finding a code violation,” said McLaughlin. “It’s tough to keep up with these changes.”
Among the most confusing codes to adhere to are energy codes, and fire stopping vs. fire blocking materials. Other changes that have caused confusion are around solar energy, positioning of handrails and porch rails, and issues around groundwater. The codebook is quite extensive, but no inspector expects a contractor to memorize it, only to have the IBC on hand and use it for reference.
Another frustration for builders felt by the inspectors is the differences from town to town. It would be helpful if there was one statewide system for permitting. The goal for contractors and inspectors is to get projects completed safely, observed Zeller.
To view the entire webinar, click here.