The Art of Kissing a Building Inspector’s Ass

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Building_InspectorSo you’ve decided to do some serious DIY projects? Roofing, framing, plumbing, electric and concrete work can all require the need for some powerful tools, intermediate construction skills and lots of long, labor intensive hours to complete these types of home improvement projects. But it doesn’t matter how badass of a DIY’er you are, with these kinds of tough construction projects, you can be sure you’re going to run into snafu’s when there is a building permit involved.

Cutting the red tape is hard enough as it is – with all the navigating through secretaries, filling out paperwork, going back and filling out more paperwork because they lost your last forms, and bringing in permission slips from your architect, builder and your mother. To make matters worse, they send in a building inspector who got up on the wrong side of the bed. That grumpaluffagus then ruins your day by telling you that you failed inspection because you forget to nail the other side of a header, or you didn’t dig the footer wide enough in two spots, or just because he doesn’t like the cut of your jib. Whatever the reason, you failed – he sucks and you’re pissed because now you have to fix your mistakes (however slight they may or may not be), get another inspection and pay a $25 red tag fine. ARRRGH!!

Take a deep breath, quit saying exclamative pirate phrases like arrrgh and use the following tips for kissing a building inspector’s ass and you’ll raise your chances of getting your building inspection passed and getting the job done without raising your blood pressure.

Be there or Be Square
In other words, show up to the damn inspection. If you’re not there to kiss his ass, how can you expect to pass inspection? Stay from 9-5 if you have to, but just meeting the guy in person is often enough to get passed.

Be Civil
Not that any HomeFixated reader would come across the wrong way. . . but if your inspector gets a bad vibe from you, it just makes things harder for everyone. Even if you’ve had a horrible day, take a moment and find your happy place. If you’re friendly, respectful, and you don’t try to rush the inspector, chances are things will go that much more smoothly.

Look Busy
These guys are just working stiffs too. If they see you working on your project, they might feel a little sympathy for you and help you hurry your project along to the next phase. Hey, it’s just like your real job!

Building inspectors work a Monday through Friday 9-5 job just like any other bureaucratic blue collar worker. They love Fridays, so be sure to schedule your building inspection for an early morning/late day Friday inspection and you’ll increase your chances of passing significantly.

Man Up (or Woman Up)
Most building inspectors thrive on finding something wrong with your project. Don’t be an idiot and say stuff like “I don’t know how that got there”, “I didn’t do that” and “who, me?” These phrases are just going to piss off an inspector even more. It’s going to set them off on a rampage, foaming at the mouth while they hunt down every last issue they might be able to task you with. If there’s a problem, simply own up to your mistake.

Ask Questions
Once you have the problem identified, step two is taking care of it. Ask your building inspector how he would fix it. This will not only give you a good answer, but it might just stroke his ego enough so you can pass the inspection.

Take Care of the Problem
Start fixing any troubles before he leaves and you’ll be sure to pass your next building inspection with flying colors.

Ultimately, one of the best strategies for a smooth inspection is to do your homework, don’t cut corners, and make sure your work is up to code. However, on all but the most simple projects, there’s always plenty of grey area that can work for or against you and the progress of your project. You definitely want your inspector in the “friend” rather than “enemy” category. If you can follow these tips and keep your pride in check, you’ve gone a long way to maximizing your chances for smooth inspections.

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About Eric

Since Eric built his first skateboard ramp in his parents driveway; he’s breathed, slept and eaten DIY construction. As a second generation master carpenter who runs two Florida-based construction firms, Eric’s had the chance to work on everything from Mcmansions to your local mall to the cat lady’s bathroom. So when it comes to dealing with construction s@#t; he’s the man—literally. There isn’t a tool or construction material that Eric hasn’t used and abused, and if there is; it’s rocking in a dark corner nervously waiting for him to show up for work.

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5 thoughts on “The Art of Kissing a Building Inspector’s Ass”

  1. “You definitely want your inspector in the “friend” rather than “enemy” category.”

    That is so true. Considering that they are enforcing minimum standards we should really be listening to what they are saying and striving to do the best job we can as builders (or DIY-ers). Sometimes they may be not updated on new building practices so you may need to make a case for why your method is better than the minimum. A couple years ago when “outsulating” wasn’t as widespread I had to educate my local inspector but I had everything neatly organized in a binder including letters from the product manufacturers stating that what I was doing was a correct use of their product.

  2. Eric, i find that if i call to ask about those grey areas and how they want it done, it really helps later. One inspector also told me “remember, code is the minimum requirement” and then proceeded to tell me what he would “like” to see. Others have been less helpful. It takes some serious flattery if you get that “Barney Fife”!!


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