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[SEAOC] Re: [SEAOC] Special Inspection

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Over the years, the Uniform Building Code has changed to meet the
requirements for a changing world. Regarding Special Inspection, the code
progressively and consistantly has been worded and re-worded to reflect the
desire to keep the Contractor from hiring the Special Inspector. The
Ammemdments to the 1991 UBC included wording that read "but not the
Contractor or any other person responsible for the work" when regarding who
was to hire the Special Inspector.
The 1994 UBC addresses Special Inspection in at least two places, Chapter 1
and Chapter 17.  Chapter 1, under the Inspection Program, the Engineer is
required to specify the names of the individuals or firm that is to provide
Special Inspection and the areas they will be inspecting BEFORE THE ISSUANCE
OF THE PERMIT. This is being enforced in some municipalities already and
others are slowly following suit.  In fact, the majority of our business is
from referral by the Engineer.  Chapter 17 specifies that the Special
Inspector shall be in the employ of the owner or the owner's representative.
All references in the UBC to Special Inspection (called Deputy Inspection in
some locales) make clear the need to keep the "fox out of the hen house".
DSA and OSHD Inspectors are not hired by the Contractor, are specifically
approved by the Architect or Engineer for the project,  are monitored by DSA
or OSHPD and have to pass testing in addition to the usual ICBO testing.  As
with all programs, there are drawbacks with each of these programs, but
efforts are being made to change them, for instance the frequency of
testing.  Currently these Inspectors are only tested once per discipline,
but expected changes will begin a 3 years testing cycle as with ICBO exams.
DSA and OSHPD are state wide programs, however, and not subject to the
vagaries and inconsistancies in qualifications of each municipality as are
Special/Deputy Inspectors.
The issue of qualified personnel inspecting your projects is something you
and only you, as Engineers, do control.  If you leave the issue alone, the
Contractor ends up hiring the Inspector and that makes him the Boss, making
the Special/Deputy Inspector's job more difficult.
I strongly suggest that Design Engineers adhere to the UBC regarding this
specification.  The other two Building Codes within the USA have similar
provisions and the upcoming unification to one code in the near future also
address this issue in a like fashion.  
Specify individuals or firms with which you are familiar and are comfortable
with; become involved in the selection and, I can assure you, the quality of
your projects and the of the reports to your office will show a marked
positive change.  
I serve on a committee for ASTM, meeting twice a year, which develops the
criteria, using ISO 9000 Guidelines, for Inspection Agencies. The next
meeting is in Orlando next week for 4 days. Currently we are modifying an
existing document to better embrace the construction field specifically, so
shortly you will be able to specify either individuals or agencies that
conform to the Inspection Body Criteria as delineated in ASTM for
construction.  This should be published this year, we've been working on it
for two years and are in what I hope is the final draft.
In the meantime, however, please continue to get more involved.  Frequently,
the Engineer is hired by the Architect, who takes your design and then makes
decisions, as you well know, that may adversely effect the spirit of your
design.  Special Inspection is clearly an engineering issue.  You really
want to know that we, as Special Inspectors, are YOUR EYES and have the
spririt of YOUR DESIGN in mind.  You want to know about problems and how
they have been handled or, if necessary, your office should be brought into
the solution.  We are not designers and will not make design decisions, but
rather will work to expedite the project's completion within you design.
Special Inspection on a project can save a lot of money..... 
Help us to help you, specify your Inspectors or firms.
R. Sandy Pringle MM
sandyp(--nospam--at)beachnet.com 
Sandy Pringle & Associates
Structural Inspection Consultants              "He has achieved success who 
Hermosa Beach, California                   has lived well and laughed often."

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