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Special Inspections

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Today seems to be my day for being on a soap box.  I was glad to see Sandy
bring the issue of special inspection for masonry to the listserver.
Sometimes it seems like we are taking two steps backwards for every step
forward we take.  Quality assurance is one of the directions SEAOC is
moving in.  We lost some of the provisions in the IBC that we worked hard
to get in the UBC.  We need to work just as hard to get them back into the
IBC.

Reading the comments from many of you on this subject reminds me of the
"battles" and arguments that Bob Bossi and I fought for 6 years to get
Structural Observation into the code.  Yes, as engineers we can all require
continuous inspection of masonry.  However, without difinitive guidelines
every project becomes different.  Establishing some standard guidelines
over this listserver can be a big help.  However, the major battle will be
before the code development committees.

The big issue that Bob and I learned is that you present the information in
a very positive light.  Issues such as continuous inspection lead to many
misperceptions with industry and with building officials.  Industry claims
that additional inspections is unfair to their product and reduces their
competitveness.  Building inspectors perceive that you are telling them
that they don't know how to do their jobs.  Neither of these issues are
accurate.  With good quality control, you can increase the competitiveness
of the product.  Continuous inspection simply recognizes that building
inspectors do not have the time to do the indepth inspection that some
products require.  This is not taking work from them, it is helping them
out in the long run.

When we were pushing the structural observation issue we were hit hard with
the argument that this was "the full employment act for engineers."  Now
that it is in the code and being used, more and more jurisidictions are
getting behind the concept.  They are finding that observation simply adds
an additional pair of eyes to make sure the work is done correctly.
Special inspections are the same way.

I urge the SEAOC code committee to take this issue to the IBC and work to
get the quality control procedures back into the code.  Work with NCSEA
committees and we will eventually get the requirements back.  In the
meantime, the listserver is a good place to begin to develop standard
guidelines.  The Code Committee can use that information to develop the
requirements and make sure that industry gets behind the changes.