Special Inspection

by Don Friedman on July 25, 2011

We find ourselves explaining “Special Inspection” on a regular basis, and more specifically, why we are not currently performing that work. What is now called Special Inspection (and was formerly called Controlled Inspection in New York City) is not inspection of buildings, a service that we perform every day. It is the inspection of various portions of construction work for quality-control purposes. Some of these inspections were perviously performed by Department of Buildings personnel, others were not formally inspected in New York until the first version of Controlled Inspection went into effect in the 1970s. Structural inspections include such materials items as welding and concrete mixes and the less obvious “Structural Stability,” which is a catch-all for making sure that work on the project building (1) doesn’t damage neighboring structures and (2) is performed in a rational manner in terms of structure.

We used to perform Stability inspection as a way of being sure that construction proceeded in the way we indicated on our drawings. New rules, originally put in place with the new NYC Building Code in 2008 and finally taking full effect earlier this year made it difficult for us to continue to do so: companies performing inspection must be accredited inspection agencies, and the accreditation process is onerous for a small engineering firm that does not have Special Inspection as its main goal. For the last three years we have handed over all of the inspections to third-party agencies, which is an acceptable but less-than-ideal solution.

This situation may be changing. A new DoB rule has been proposed that would remove the need for accreditation for the small and mid-size projects that make up the bulk of our work. If this rule is put in place, we will again be able to perform stability inspection on most of our projects, and will begin doing so.

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