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Thread: Switch to plans examiner/building inspector

  1. #1
    Jun 2008

    Switch to plans examiner/building inspector

    I was wondering if anyone on these boards has ever heard of an urban planner switching to a plans examiner/building inspector. I'm fairly new to the planning field (3 years) and am fairly frustrated by the lack of structure, organization, and planning from the planning department I'm working for. I was hoping this department was an anomaly, but from what I've been reading this appears to be a common problem. Building departments, on the other hand, seem much more cut and dry with a lot less b.s.

    I'm thinking of switching to a plans examiner/building inspector because one of the things I enjoy with my current position is plan review. Granted, I would be looking at the plans from a different perspective but I think I would still enjoy it. As for related knowledge and experience, I worked construction for a year, took a few drafting courses in high school, and have done development review for the 3 years I've been in planning. However, I'm thinking it might be difficult landing the first job.

    Thanks for any comments and/or suggestions.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
    Jan 2005
    Land of Confusion
    You'd probably need to be trained and licensed as a Building Inspector, I would think. States probably have different requirements in this regard. And what you learned doing development review on the planning side isn't really all that transferable because obviously you will need to know how to interpret building plans (electrical, plumbing, foundation, etc.).

    In my experience, there is quite a bit of "b.s." in Building Departments- terrible data/records management, incompetant staff, perverse permitting requirements, and more interaction with the angry/unreasonable public. As opposed to dealing with consulting engineers and architects on the planning side, you'll mostly have to deal with perpetually hung-over contractors ready to snap if they can't get their permits. Then there is code enforcement, which completely sucks in its own regard.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
    Mar 2007
    Lowering the PCI in the Hills
    From what I have seen in this aread, most municipalities require their building inspectors to have been a licensed contractor previously and in Michigan, I believe you are also required to be certified as an inspector by the state (echoing Hilldwellers comments).

    Also, it seems that there is much more of an old-boy network in the building inspectors realm and I think breaking into would be much harder than a lot of people realize - I think cities like to have an inspector who already has working relationships with most of the contractors who do business in the area.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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