An overview to special inspections in New York City
Links to NYC DOB and other resources can be found at bottom of post
In New York City, it’s the law for owners and building managers to hire special inspectors to make sure projects are being built according to the NYC building code: A small office fire may seem like something that can be dealt with easily, but without a sprinkler system that has been installed and tested according to code, that small fire may escalate into a more dangerous situation that can harm life and damage property.
The main job of a special inspections agency is to provide quality oversight, and make sure construction work is per the Department of Buildings approved drawings, applicable codes, and manufacturer’s guidelines.
Let’s briefly go over the history of Special Inspections:
- Special Inspection first appears in the 1961 edition of the Uniform Building Code.
- In 1984 the US House Sub-Committee on Science and Technology presents a report on structural failures which calls out the need for improved communications during the construction process and need for construction inspection
- In 1988 BOCA National Building Code introduced special inspection requirements.
- The 2008 NYC Building Code replaced Controlled Inspections with 45 Special Inspections and 8 Progress Inspections, ensuring more stringent standards for inspectors and Special Inspection Agencies.
- In the 2014 NYC Building Code, 5 new inspections were added and 16 were renamed.
Now let’s go over when special inspections are needed.
Excluding these exemptions, if performing work in NYC your project will most likely require special inspections:
- Special inspections are not required for work of a minor nature as defined by the local building official or as warranted by conditions in the jurisdiction as approved by the building official.
- Special inspections are not required for building components unless the design involves the practice of professional engineering or architecture as defined by applicable state statutes and regulations governing the professional registration and certification of engineers or architects.
- Plumbing and fire alarm systems are exempt from special inspection requirements.
- Unless otherwise required by the building official, special inspections are not required for Group U occupancies that are accessory to a residential occupancy.
It’s also important to understand the structure of a special inspections agency:
- The Director signs compliance forms and supervises inspections and the inspections process.
- The Director may perform special inspections as well and is responsible for ensuring inspections are performed by personnel with the required qualifications.
- Inspectors either have Primary Inspector Qualifications or meet alternate qualifications (those required with supervision). A further description of required qualifications can be found in RCNY 101-06