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.



  1. Matthew Savage /Reply


    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)?

  3. Rick /Reply

    There are fire resistive requirements that are required for homes with less than 10′ separation. according to the state building code the builder, inspector, and the county are responsible to you. Sue them. your home is in jeopardy.

  4. Jack Strobel /Reply

    I have a building inspector who is “by the book” guy. My house is nearly completed and the inspector decided to tell me my Hardee board panels under the house will not pass inspection due to the fact only 5/8″ sheet rock is currently the only material approved as fireproof.
    My house is on pilings. The roof of the garage under the house is Hardee board panels. I am told Hardee does not pass the 1 hour burn through rating. When I suggested applying a fire proof paint he denied that as well. Despite the fact the paint has a 1-2 hour burn through rating. Do I have any recourse?

    1. eddie /Reply

      Unfortunately, I believe the building inspector is correct. And, if the inspector is correct, you don’t have much recourse. The Building Code is a MINIMUM Code, meaning it cannot be reduced. To do so would be gross negligence and open the inspector and the jurisdiction up to liability. It is true that 5/8″ fire code sheetrock or another fire-rated covering is required under a piling house, and post-applied fire-resistant coatings are no longer allowed by the code.

  5. Mister Owner /Reply

    I was issued a building permit then after review by current building inspector substantial changes and restrictions were made in the original permit . Can a building department substantially change a permit for no apparent reason after it’s issued

    1. eddie /Reply

      Sorry for the late response, but I wasn’t notified of your comment for some reason. Coincidentally, the same thing just happened to me. The jurisdiction realized that they had made a mistake and yanked back the permit, made the necessary adjustments. In the end, the jurisdiction cannot allow non-conformities or permit variances by virtue of issuing a permit. They are obligated to correct the situation if contrary to ordinance or code – even after permit issuance.

  6. Mark /Reply

    I was under the impression that building inspections were to be carried out no more than 72 hours after request. I noticed that ,(6) “The habitual failure to provide requested inspections in a timely manner.” As a contractor I am currently waiting 7 business days for an inspection. Who should I talk to? Catawba County

    1. eddie /Reply

      That is my understanding as well, although I am not sure that is in the Code anywhere. As busy as most jurisdictions are right now, I have also experienced delays in getting inspections. I would speak to the Chief Inspector, then the City or County Manager’s office.

  7. Lisa /Reply

    We purchased a new home from a builder recently, after moving in the home we started to notice many issues in the house that weren’t properly inspected by the building inspector. We filled a complaint with the licensing board who are currently investigating the building inspector. We were told not to wait for report which might take awhile, if we wanted to sue building inspector directly.
    Can we sue the building inspector,

    1. eddie /Reply

      That would be up to you and your attorney. The old adage applies: Anybody can sue anybody anytime (doesn’t mean you will win). Did you speak with the local jurisdiction (e.g. the city or county inspections department)? In order for the inspector to have committed misconduct, you would have to prove that it was willful misconduct, gross negligence, or gross incompetence.

  8. Ashley Wescott /Reply

    Is it written anywhere in the laws what the definition of “Timely Manner” is? We are dealing with 4+ days out on inspections and sometimes longer.

    1. eddie /Reply

      Not that I can find. The unwritten rule of 48 hours is a thing of the past as many jurisdictions are understaffed and overworked, unfortunately.

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