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Re: Problems with Deputy Inspectors

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Dennis Wish sent this to me privately and gave me permission to share it
with The List folks if I thought there would be any benefit.  Well I do, so
here is his query and my response..................


<Sandy,
I wasn't able to follow this whole thread since I've been out sick for four
days and came back to over 80 messages to go through. However, I did read
your response....................................
I am interested in what recourse you or the EOR has when the specified
Inspector has been replaced, then reinstated AND the inspection reports do
not agree. In your example, the contractors inspector missed some important
items that your inspectors found. Is the contractors inspector liable in
some manner? Can disciplinary actions be taken against him because of this?
My reason is not to harm an Inspector who makes an honest mistake, but to
rid the field of Inspectors who can be bought. I know this sounds harsh, but
from your position, how can you justify your work when the client may only
be interested in approvals and not corrective measures. It seems to me that
it makes it very difficult for Inspectors in the field who call them as they
see them and then need to argue and defend their position - finally to be
placed on the bottom of the pile when it comes time to pay the bill.>


Since there is no standard municipal regulatory agency for Special/Deputy
Inspectors, I'm afraid it's "Let the buyer beware", Et caveat emptor. There
is a section of the Los Angeles Building Code that refers to "the best of
his knowledge" as relates to Special Inspector's liability which allows
quite a bit of leeway, but the truth is, quite frankly, that the Contractor
is really responsible for the quality of his work. Going after the
Inspector would require you show some real negligence and intent.  If you,
as the EOR have chosen well, your Inspection Program should proceed without
problems.  The Inspection Agency is aware of who is responsible for their
employment if you've specified them which gives additional incentive.  The
issue of selecting an Inspector or Inspection Agency is the same as
choosing an certain epoxy anchor or a particular brand of hardware.  No one
questions your right to do so and your decision is generally based upon
tried and true research reports and solid test data.  The same is true for
the Inspection issues.  If the Contractor chooses to use a different type
of anchor than specified, he does so at his own peril, risking the
possibility of having to remove them and reinstall the correct anchor.
This basic example hopefully illustrates my point.  

As a suggestion: Ross Downey, in Van Nuys, CA makes his Structural
Observation and Special Inspection Requirements a whole separate page of
his plans to keep the Contractor from saying,"Oh, I didn't see that on the
plans"  He really can't say that about a whole page!!

The only practical way to ensure accountability and responsiveness is to
deal with an insured, experienced and, most preferably, accredited
Inspection Agency. There are some Testing Labs now that have dual
accreditation both as Test Labs AND as Inspection Agencies, but there is a
real shortage of Accredited Inspection Agencies. 

Until the Engineering Community comes to their own rescue by demanding
accreditation of the Inspection firms on their jobs, the picture will not
change. Inspection Agencies will not voluntarily subject themselves to
accreditation unless there is a reason and that reason has to be money$$$
Thgey will do whatever it takes to be competative in the market place, and
if you demand that standard for your jobs, then they shall have to meet
your requirements.

Right now each Municipality sets their own standards and there are HUGE
DIFFERENCES.  The requirements for some places are literally that the
Inspector be capable of breathing with no requirements for continued
education or testing.  In fact, the Orange County requirements are the
worst in Southern California and a lot of municipalities are not very far
ahead of them.

Damn, I've run off at the mouth again.  I'll probably get in some hot water
again for some of these statements, but they are crystal clear and
accurate, and besides, I've been in hot water before, and..............

Perhaps a little verbose, but it's my pet topic and if you didn't really
care you'd not have read this far;  I'd have suffered the "Delete Key" fate
right off the top, so I guess you do care and now we'll see just how much.
Will you stand up and be counted?


R. Sandy Pringle       STRUCTURAL INSPECTION CONSULTANTS Inc. 
sandyp(--nospam--at)sic-inc.com 	 (800)598-1970    Fax(310)376-5294 
http://www.sic-inc.com	 Hermosa Beach & Redondo Beach, CA

It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, 
but also for what we do not do. -Moliere