SB Inspectors: How in depth do you go?

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Emily C

Active member
Jan 17, 2024
38
21
Hey!
I was watching a youtube video as part of my WABO class and the inspector was doing a final on a home and he was walking thru making sure everything was to the plans/code. He looked at the smoke detectors but didn't test them, just said "they're hard wired in"....I'm wondering what you all do in the field with the life safety stuff. Do you set them off? What else do you do as an inspector to ensure things are good? Where is the line drawn?
There's no wrong answer, I'm just curious. :)
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Location
United States
Hey!
I was watching a youtube video as part of my WABO class and the inspector was doing a final on a home and he was walking thru making sure everything was to the plans/code. He looked at the smoke detectors but didn't test them, just said "they're hard wired in"....I'm wondering what you all do in the field with the life safety stuff. Do you set them off? What else do you do as an inspector to ensure things are good? Where is the line drawn?
There's no wrong answer, I'm just curious. :)

Don't know how interesting or not interesting some of this cross-disciplinary perspective is for you :), but in Corps Regulatory our project management workflow is what's called "cradle to grave." That is, for a given permit application, the same project manager will review the permit application and issue the permit and then also conduct all compliance inspections associated with the permit.

As far as compliance inspections go, I'd say that my and other Corps PMs' approach mirrors our approach to application reviews. We inspect the permitted activity to verify that what was put in the ground is consistent with what was permitted but are only as rigorous as we need to be in order to feel that we've adequately documented compliance. For permit application reviews, we say that "level of review should be commensurate with level of impacts" and the same holds true for compliance inspections. For example, if I'm inspecting a mile-long riprap-lined channel and, after looking over the channel in a few locations see that the type of rock used and other details perfectly match the specs authorized in my permit, then I'll probably just extrapolate from there and not bother inspecting further.

I imagine that building inspectors, like the one you described from that YouTube video, operate in much the same way. I'd hope that for more critical life safety issues (e.g., for load-bearing structures), inspectors would always apply their highest possible level of scrutiny. However, I can appreciate that even in those situations level of scrutiny is highly discretionary on the part of the building inspector and, for better or worse, varies.
 
Yes, I've always set them off before signing off on a final inspection. It is Not only to test function but interconnectivity. According to California Residential code Section R314.4: any new building or building undergoing sufficient alteration to allow it, smoke alarms are required to be interconnected; when one goes off, they all do.

There is an exception. In my jurisdiction if then owner doesn't want us in the residence, then we have a form that an owner can sign and have notarized certifying that they have the required smoke alarms and that are functioning. However, this is only reserved for repairs that do not require entrance into the residence such as a re-roof.
 
Life safety is my main focus. I'd say 99% of the time I set them off to make sure they work and are interlinked. There is an exception I will just visually check them if there is a small child sleeping in the house. It rarely happens but as a parent I get it and I wouldn't startle the baby when I can visually check to make sure they have power and are wired together. At electric rough I already have verified that they were wired together and powered by the electric panel. But again that's rare that they would have a child sleeping while I'm there. Other life safety items I always check are GFCI outlets in the proper locations and that they are wired correctly and function properly and egress.
 
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