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Existing Foundations

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I was wondering what everyone's standard of practice was in reference to
verifying the integrity of existing footings.  If you are to design a building
on existing footings, is it always necessary to "investigate" the existing?
How is the reinforcing and the strength of concrete verified?  If I'm
enclosing my patio and using engineered design, do I need to have a special
inspector or the like check my existing footing?  

My question is due to a building department's requirement for me to core
drill, test, and x-ray the existing footings of a building.  I have inspected
the footings visually for size and checked some footings for rebar size and
feel that this is adequate.  Normally for this type of work, I haven't heard
of anyone "checking" the existing footings unless the loading is higher than
before.  In this case the footings have been there for several decades and the
old building is masonry as opposed to wood and stucco now.  What would you
think is reasonable for me to do at this point?