What is a Building Inspector?

Building Inspectors are often called the "silent defenders," because, while they perform a service necessary for safe occupation of buildings, most people are simply not aware that they exist or what they do. Most people think that building inspectors are "home inspectors." While home inspectors evaluate homes for elements of building safety, they exist primarily to protect home buyers when they are purchasing existing homes that are for sale. On the other hand, building inspectors, who work directly indirectly for municipalities, counties, or other branches of government, are required to certify that new buildings , new structures or renovation projects are safe for human occupancy.

Building inspectors determine whether construction plans and construction work meets the minimum standards prescribed by law. The law, or adopted legislation, is a set of building codes that are adopted by a legal jurisdiction, which is typically state government. Even though they are collectively termed "building codes," building codes are comprised of a set of sub codes that are known as:

  • The building code
    • For example, the International Building Code
  • The electrical code
    • For example, the National Electrical Code, which is also known as NFPA 70
  • The energy code
  • The fire code
  • The mechanical code
  • The plumbing code

As there are various sub codes that comprise the building code, such are the inspectors that enforce them. In other words, there are building inspectors, electrical inspectors, energy inspectors, fire inspectors, mechanical inspectors, and plumbing inspectors. There are also accessibility inspectors. It is possible, and very much encouraged, that a single person serve as multi trade inspectors. With this arragnement, contractors and designers only have to interface with a single person in getting their projects approved.

The primary hazard associated with buildings, being that they create an enclosed environment, is the fire hazard. A large proportion of building code requirements are designed to enforce fire safety by passive and active means. One of the primary hazards of electricity, for instance, it overheating building materials that could lead to a fire and loss of life. Passive fire safety requirements are designed to prevent or slow the spread of fire through concealed construction spaces. Needless to say, inspectors are enforcing a myriad of code requirements that are streamlined for fire safety within buildings.

Modern inspectors often serve as multitrade inspectors. This arrangement permits several official inspection milestones to be passed with a single inspection trip.

An underground sanitary plumbing line inspection is one of the plumbing inspection milestones near the beginning of building construction.