Common Questions about Special Inspections

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Are you currently building or have plans to build a commercial structure? If so, there’s a strong likelihood that it will require a special inspection, as set forth by the International Building Code (IBC). If this is news to you, chances are, you’ll have some questions.

Today, we’ll address the more common ones.

What Are Special Inspections?

For any project that involves structural components—like masonry, foundation, concrete, steel welding, etc—special inspections are typically required to ensure that such tasks are done safely, sustainably, and according to building codes. The NYC Building Code defines these as, “the inspection of selected materials, equipment, installation, fabrication, erection or placement of components and connections, to ensure compliance with approved construction documents and referenced standards as required...”

The codes and standards governing these inspections are outlined in Chapter 17 of the IBC Code.

Who Is Subject to Special Inspections?

Certain construction projects are subject to special inspections, but which and what they will entail depends on your local or state regulations. For instance, in New Jersey, when applying for the new construction of a Class 1 building or any building containing a smoke control system as specified in the Uniform Construction Code (N.J.A.C. 5:23), you may be subject to special inspections. The following categories of construction work that necessitate such actions in NJ include:

  • Steel, concrete, or masonry construction

  • Deep driven, cast-in-place, and helical pile foundations

  • Fabricated Items

  • Seismic resistance

  • Sprayed fire-resistant materials

  • Mastic and intumescent fire-resistant coatings

  • Exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS)

  • Fire-resistant penetrations and joints

  • Smoke control

Who Is Exempt?

There are some exceptions noted in Section 1704, including:

  • Construction of a minor nature

  • Construction that has conditions of the jurisdiction that have been approved by the Chief Building Official

  • Accessory buildings or structures, commonly linked to one- or two-family housing

  • Portions of buildings designed in compliance with cold-formed steel, light-frame construction, or conventional light-frame construction

Who Must Hire the Special Inspector?

If you are the owner of the project, the onus is on you to make sure that a special inspection is performed. Therefore, hiring is your obligation. That is unless you have hired a Registered Design Professional to act as your agent. In that case, it would be their duty to schedule and hire an inspector.

How Much Do Special Inspections Cost?

Every municipality will have its own specific special inspection requirements. Some construction processes require more frequent inspections to occur. That said, you should plan that special inspections will cost approximately 1%–5% of your construction budget.

Can I Receive an Occupancy Permit without a Special Inspection?

No. To receive an occupancy permit, you must have a completed and approved final report for special inspections. Should you skip or forget any special inspections, they must be done after the fact. That could be costly, requiring the underlying materials to be exposed or demolished to enable access.

Work with MFS and Have All Your Questions Answered

Special inspections ensure that construction projects are done the right way. It’s important that designers keep them at the forefront during both the planning and construction process. In doing so, you can ensure that it's done as quickly, economically, and safely as possible.

Do you need a designer or construction manager to help with the planning of your project? Or are you looking for a special inspections agent?

The team at MFS Engineers can handle either of these tasks. We are an Approved Special Inspections Agency in New York City.

Do you have other questions? Reach out today to see what a partnership would look like!