<$BlogRSDURL$> < link rel="DCTERMS.replaces" href="http://agirlfromhome.blogspot.com" /> < meta name="DC.Identifier" content="http://agfh.blogspot.com">

The life of a porn addicted housewife.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Inspection - Not All It's Cracked Up To Be 

I received a very nice note from redder this morning. He asks that I recount some of the “adventures” that I had while I was a construction inspector. Starting today I will try to do that once a week.

For those of you who may be new, you may not know that I spent many years as a construction inspector on small to very large new projects. It may sound like an odd job for a woman, but actually the number of female inspectors is growing rapidly. I have worked on projects as small as a house, as large as an NFL stadium, and everything in between.

The reason I don’t do this anymore is due to a couple things which I will try to describe in a reasonable manner.

In the past companies that supplied construction testing and inspection worked mainly for the owners of the projects. The inspectors had final say-so over most everything. This was true even when I first started in this field around 1994. Over the years it gradually changed to where now most inspection companies work for the contractors instead of the owners. This diminished the inspector’s power to correct problems dramatically. Because of this, the engineers who oversee and sign-off on an inspectors work were also pretty much brought to their knees. It was very discouraging to me to know for a fact that there were structural flaws in a building and to not be able to do anything about it. I worked for the same company two different times. At the end of approx. 7 years I began to feel like my job had little or no real meaning. I took 18 months off before going back, hoping that things had changed for the better. Unfortunately they had not. As long as the contractors are the clients there is no real way to perform an inspector’s job correctly. Yes, there are some clients who are the actual owners, but those are few and far between.

The problems with contractors being the client can be overwhelming. For instance, several years ago there was one contractor (who will remain nameless of course!) who was notorious for placing his hurricane clips properly, then removing them after the county inspector has signed off on them. I saw him do this more than once. I told my department manager who said there was nothing he could do about it because the county inspector had already okayed it. I was also told that if I wanted to keep my job I would not contact the county about it because our corporate office frowned on things like that. Where this was true or not I have no idea. I just went with what my manager told me. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and I wish I HAD said something!
In some cases I was not an inspector on a particular job. Sometimes I performed materials testing instead. Materials testing includes concrete testing, density testing, etc. In most cases the materials testing and the visual inspection are performed by two separate companies to avoid conflicts and to “spread the wealth.” While doing materials testing I saw many instances of contractors placing garbage in walls to take up space so that they would need less grout. Again, there was nothing I could do about this. As a structural inspector I saw contractors place garbage including construction material in the ground to save on backfill material. Recently we were told to write things like this down in our reports so we had a record of them. In the past we were told to ignore them completely.
Once you have been an inspector it is very difficult to go back to doing strictly materials testing. When you see something that is obviously wrong and you try to point it out to either the contractor or the actual inspector you are told to mind your own business. I have literally had nightmares over things like that. Schools falling down, buildings collapsing, things like that do not make for a good night’s sleep!

Until Florida’s building codes are strengthened, and owners become the clients more often, I really don’t see any of this changing. And that is sad.

Even though nothing exciting happens anymore, I am much happier just being a housewife. I guess in the end I just wasn’t cut out for the politics involved in construction.
<< Home