NC Law Now Tougher on Building Inspectors

Color_Seal_300dpiNorth Carolina Law just got tougher on Building Inspectors.  North Carolina Session Law 2015-145 (House Bill 255) became effective October 1, 2015, and effectively puts the screws to inspectors who don’t do their job, who don’t do it thoroughly or in a timely manner, and who require work in excess of the Code.  “Rolled” inspections, the delay of an inspection because they are “too busy to get to it today,” are supposedly a thing of the past.

This law has numerous changes to the permitting and inspections requirements.  The full text can be viewed at HERE.

If the law requires the work to be designed by an Architect or Engineer, then no permits shall be issued without sealed drawings.  This will eliminate many observed instances of substantial work being permitted with contractor-supplied drawings, shop drawings or napkin sketches.

There is also a raised minimum threshold for requiring permits from $5,000 to $15,000 (for residential or farm structures only, where the work doesn’t affect structural, plumbing, mechanical, electrical or energy efficient systems).

Another interesting section of this law (PART IX) includes provisions where inspection and certification by the designer-of-record (architect or engineer) shall be deemed sufficient under certain circumstances and require no further inspection by the building inspector.  Although, I doubt this provision will be taken advantage of except under extreme emergencies.

The new law also clarifies and strengthens misconduct by Building Inspectors, which now includes:  “willful misconduct, gross negligence, or gross incompetence”.  Those shall include any of the following:

(1) The enforcement of a Code requirement applicable to a certain area or set of circumstances in other areas or circumstances not specified in the requirement.

(2) For an alternative design or construction method that has been appealed under G.S. 143-140.1 and found by the Department of Insurance to comply with the Code, to refuse to accept the decision by the Department to allow that alternative design or construction method under the conditions or circumstances set forth in the Department’s decision for that appeal.

(3) For an alternative construction method currently included in the Building Code, to refuse to allow the alternative method under the conditions or circumstances set forth in the Code for that alternative method.

(4) The enforcement of a requirement that is more stringent than or otherwise exceeds the Code requirement.

(5) To refuse to implement or adhere to an interpretation of the Building Code issued by the Building Code Council or the Department of Insurance.

(6) The habitual failure to provide requested inspections in a timely manner.”

FYI – Sections of this blog post were “borrowed” from the recent edition of the NCDOI Newsletter.  We attempted to ask for permission to reference those sections here, but, per usual, calls went straight to voicemail.

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4 Comments

  1. Matthew Savage /Reply

    Hello

    I have a situation where I live in a development where a builder built a house 9 feet from mine and the county is saying that there is a 14 feet minimum distance between home. I keep questioning the county as to why they signed off on it but I’m not getting a clear answer. Is there anywhere I can report the builder and the county inspector for not following and enforcing codes? I feel it should be in number 5 on this list.

    1. eddie /Reply

      It is possible that the developer received a variance for setback reduction, but as a neighbor, you should have been informed of a variance application. In our area, foundation surveys are required to make sure the structure is NOT being built within required setbacks. If your jurisdiction does not require those, then your only recourse at this point might be a lawsuit.

  2. Matthew Savage /Reply

    Hello Eddie

    Thanks for the reply. I went to Forsyth County Inspections office. Nobody applied for a variance and they are telling me that I have the option to apply for a variance. I was also informed that they do not go by the set backs in this neighborhood just the distance between structures and the standard was 14 feet. I have repeatedly questioned them why the structures are under 10 feet apart and they keep saying they don’t know but the inspector signed off on it. Should I direct a lawsuit at the county or the home builder (true homes)?

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