Building Inspection Department
County Building Inspection
This post is in response to an article in the Union County Weekly, based in Monroe,N.C. titled Questions surround county inspection department. The Union County building inspection department is a great asset for home owners of Union County, the men and women who work there have been over worked and under appreciated for as long as I can remember. These men and women were asked to do the impossible a few years back when construction was booming, I know personally they were expected to perform as many as 35-40 inspections per day, in an eight hour day including driving time. This is an almost impossible task considering the complexity and size of the custom homes being built in the Weddington, Marvin, and Waxhaw communities, as well as all of Union County. Then you add all the homes being constructed by the production builders, there is just no way possible to catch every little detail. This is where your builder let you down not the inspection department.
The average home in those neighborhoods ranged from 8,000-20,000 square feet, I am not trying to provide an excuse for not doing their job, I am just stating that you can not perform a comprehensive inspection on that many structures in the time allowed. The inspectors that I knew were only able to check for major code violations and point them out and check back to make sure they were corrected.
At this point I would also like to point out to home owners that it is not the responsibility of the inspection department to make sure your home is being constructed properly, but that of the building contractor. I would like you to ask yourself and your building contractor when you called for an inspection , did either one of you take the time or the responsibility to meet the inspector while they were performing your inspection. The inspector will always take the time to discuss what he/she sees whether it be code or not and make suggestions as to how to correct any mistakes . These are the types of building inspectors I know from Union County. I would also state that I worked with every building inspector in Union County, including the one mentioned in the above referenced article and never did I see him not take his responsibility for insuring the home owner get a structurally sound product.
This post could be referred back to an earlier post about choosing the right contractor. I will place the blame directly where I think it belongs, the prospective home owner and the general contractors who got into the construction industry to make a fast buck. The process of building a new home is complex with all types of variables, each of these variables can increase the cost of constructing a new home, be it the structural cost of using engineered lumber to the weather, these cost sometimes just can’t be calculated, but there must be some mechanism to pass them along to the home owner. I would offer there are a lot of excellent general contractors in Union County, but there are just about as many unqualified and inexperienced ones .
The general contractor has an obligation to the home owner to meet with the qualified sub-contractors on a daily basis to make sure that all applicable codes are being followed and that your new home meets these requirements. I will tell you that in most instances your sub-contractors , i.e. masons, framers , interior trim, and other miscellaneous subs know more about what is going on with your new home than your contractor. The sub-contractors should always be qualified and this means a company or person that has been providing this type of service for years, for example it takes a framer years to learn how to perform his task, and all of your qualified framers will know code as related to structure and will more than likely go above code to insure there will not be any issues.
I am not a general contractor, but a framer in this region and have framed in N.C., S.C., and not once have I ever had a building inspector not taken their job seriously. They have always taken the time to meet with myself whenever doing an inspection and made it a point to discuss any issues or problems and offered their advice as how to correct them. The building inspection department provides a valuable service to their communities and should be appreciated not condemned and insulted because you chose the wrong general contractor and or unqualified sub-contractors. It is time to take responsibility for your own action , not choosing for quality but for price always has a consequence.
I sympathize with your situation but don’t persecute the people who are trying to make sure your new home is a safe product, they are human and make mistakes too.