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The Final Inspection

Can I Occupy My Building Now?

finalbuildingPicture this, you have just invested nearly one year of your life and 5 million dollars as it has been poured in this dream of yours (at least that how your friends say it).  In front of you is the shinny new building, it seats 200 people, its contemporary, it has state of the art cooking equipment, the cash registers are in, and the staff are waiting to be trained.  Excitement and anticipation are high.  The final inspection is underway and then we find out we just failed our final inspection.

The final inspection is the last step before the building owner/occupant can get a certificate of occupancy.  Emotions tend to run high for building owners as they are preparing to start making  money out of their brand new building.

Unfortunately, many final inspections are a punch list creation for contractors and owners.  The building is simply not ready and the inspection process is used as an extension or an excuse to delay the certificate.   This approach is highly undesirable for building inspectors.  Some simple understanding and resources can help aid the occupant before the request is made for final inspection.

The final inspection is the inspector’s last chance to review a building and its associated systems.   Items such as:

  • Have all inspectors given a final inspection on the appropriate systems?
  • Have as-built or record drawings been submitted?
  • Has staff training been performed in accordance with the local fire code?
  • Did the excess construction materials, trailers, or temporary power been removed?
  • Has the community planning division signed off on requirements from their process?
  • Does the building have an address?

The list can go on and it is important for communities to help occupants identify what must be completed for final inspection.  A simple checklist or resource given by inspectors, prior to the request for final inspection can save many headaches and calls to City Hall. Checklists can help the contractor ensure that all items have been addressed or help the inspector ensure all items are completed.

Resources:

Are there any tips you use during a final inspection?  How about a temporary certificate of occupancy, will you issue them?

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Don Phillips March 10, 2009, 5:03 pm

    A skilled building official can craft a partial occupancy permit to get them in and set up while the final list of items are being address. A skilled plans examiner can ensure all of the i’s and t’s are on the plan approval letter so someone already has a checklist. A skilled project manager had been talking to the inspectors since the footing inspection so there are few surprises come building final time. And skilled inspectors point out issues in the framing stage that will need addressed at the final inspection.

    My point it is a total team effort and if everyone is looking for ways to get people in a building, it can be accomplished.

  • Mark Spoo March 11, 2009, 9:21 am

    I am in total agreement with Don Phillips.
    In this economic climate building and fire officials MUST look at the inspection process as a BUSINESS. I cannot say that strong enough. Issues on final inspections should delay opening. Gone should be the days of politics and ego’s. If building and fire officials desire to be considered professionals they must act like professionals in all aspects from plan review to final acceptance.

  • admin March 14, 2009, 9:34 am

    Great comments and that is our hope is that a joint effort of all parties doing their job pays off in the long run for the client. Everyone wants safe buildings.

    We also added a couple links in the article with some more resources!

  • Paul Sabaj April 13, 2009, 11:04 am

    I think all the above comments are great but I still like the idea of a cash bond that is held for a temporary occupancy. I have always held that once the building is occupied you don’t have the leverage to get things done and the occupant is then in no hurry to get the check list done. By having the cash bond along with a set time frame I have always seen a more rapid end to the final. It also is a great comprimise to the towns that still have to deal with the political climate and the old boy network.

  • Joseph Heimsch June 10, 2009, 1:33 pm

    I agree with paul. Regardless of the “economic climate” we all want one thing that a safe building. Unfortunately after the building is occupied sometimes our concerns as inspectors go by the wayside, and it becomes a struggle to get these few things completed. I believe the bond approach is the encouragement the owner needs to get these things done in a timely manor.

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