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Thread: Building inspectors in rural places

  1. #1
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Building inspectors in rural places

    I need a building inspector. No more than two days a week plus occasional plan reviews. There is no skilled pool to draw from. The last inspector was 2 1/2 hours away. What do other small, isolated towns do?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    Where I live they have county offices that provide these people for all the small towns in a county. The small city first has to agree to wave jurisdiction in that area, though. Do you have a county-level government association? You could also find nearby towns and try and find a full-time workload between you and them?
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Around here we also have many communities that contract with the county. Alternatively, they use somebody without any qualifications, or do not require inspections.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    For counties without planning departments in New Mexico the State has regional building inspectors for general construction that you have to file and schedule with.

    I used to work for a county that did the inspection in a small municipality for them. You could file and pay at the county.

    Also, for larger projects (assuming this is more than a basic house or commercial building) you can get the applicant to pay for and supply building inspection certification from an engineering firm.
    @GigCityPlanner

  5. #5
    Where I work, building inspections are contracted to Middle Department Inspection Agency, a private company that serves the mid-Atlantic. They have an office about 45 miles away and serve most of the counties and towns in the area. The inspector spends about an hour every other day at our office reviewing permits and then goes out to do inspections. We collect the fees as part of the building permit and all inspections are scheduled by the company office.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Train Someone

    We trained a person from the ground up. There are wonderful classes in Las Vegas that offer an intensive one week session and guarantee a pass on the exams. They are offered in other places too, but they DO work. It prepares a person for the book answer, but they will need on the ground training also. I would have them shaddow a building inspector in a nearby City or County for a week or two, if you are starting a program from the ground up. Contract with a private inspector to be available to review pictures sent by i-phone if the new person needs help in the field. Or even have the contracted building inspector ride along twice a week for a month. It won't be cheap, but you will end up with a good inspection program.
    Skilled Adoxographer

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    All good responses, thanks. However:
    There is no county inspections program.
    There is no regional council of governments. (communism...the start towards the one world government)
    There are no state districts for construction activity. (hey, it's Kansas)
    There is no local talent to train.

    I may try to see if nearby towns could pool resources for a full time person to work amongst us. Contracting work on major projects is a last resort, and doable. Unfortunately that will not help with smaller projects and catching work done without a permit. Perhaps I should add the need includes zoning reviews/inspections. Before our post-tornado rebuilding no one cared.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Sounds like you could source this out as a code enforcement office/building inspector either part time or full time and maybe get someone.
    @GigCityPlanner

  9. #9
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    Tough problem

    I just moved from Surprise, Az to take over the Saline County, KS planning gig. It's a big learning curve for me to start learning rural planning. Here we have no county inspectors, we work with Salina to use the city nspectors to handle commercial permits - no residential permit nspections. Maybe you can contact Great Bend or Dodge City to help out when you need it? Another option might be to check if there's some private company in Wichita to do the permits.
    Good luck
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Well

    The guy we ended up training for the building inspector job just won inspector of the year in Arizona and was a warehous manager, janitor and code enforcement officer before being trained. So I'm sure you could find someone.
    Skilled Adoxographer

  11. #11
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dvdneal View post
    I just moved from Surprise, Az to take over the Saline County, KS planning gig. It's a big learning curve for me to start learning rural planning. Here we have no county inspectors, we work with Salina to use the city nspectors to handle commercial permits - no residential permit nspections. Maybe you can contact Great Bend or Dodge City to help out when you need it? Another option might be to check if there's some private company in Wichita to do the permits.
    Good luck
    Welcome to KS. Even though you are 3 hours east of me people in the Kansas City area consider Salina to be the western part of the state. Hope to see you at the APA_KS fall conference.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I'm checking to see if my budget will let me, I hope to make it over to KC.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    There is no local talent to train.
    What about experienced contractors looking for a change of pace?
    All these years the people said he’s actin’ like a kid.
    He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
    - - Guy Clark, "The Cape"

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Midori's avatar
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    Some places here in E TN simply don't require inspections for the same reasons you cite (no local talent, no one qualified, no resources to train/hire them), but I have heard builders complain that this just creates a "race to the bottom" in terms of price/quality of construction in those jurisdictions. It's not the option I like.

    These are hard times financially, especially in rural places. It's budget time in my neck of the woods, and it's getting brutal.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SGB View post
    What about experienced contractors looking for a change of pace?
    Uh, you don't understand rural KS. There are no experienced contractors. There are no inexperienced contractors.

    We had an inspector hired...didn't show up for work. Learned he took another position in another town, a one-person public works/streets/utilities maintenance person. There had been some interest in our job, but when they found out it included code enforcement they disappeared quickly. For the no-show we hired we left code enforcement out of the duties.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian dvdneal's avatar
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    I think you might be stuck doing this yourself. I still say try to pull some part time help from Great Bend or some other nearby city. That's what Assaria uses one of the Salina inspectors. Inspections seem to take place during the lunch hour or after five. It's not like the guy has too many runs down to Assaria, there aren't that many permits.
    I don't pretend to understand Brannigan's Law. I merely enforce it.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    Any chance you could contact some of your surrounding counties/towns to see if they have an inspector who retired and may be wanting something to do?

    Thats how we ended up with our part time inspector. Retired from the county over about a year ago, and he works here 3 days a week now.

  18. #18
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    I would suggest contacting the Kansas equivalent to the Building Officials Association of Texas to see if they have anybody that is either retired or close to retirement that wouldn't mind working a couple days a week.

    Otherwise, I would look at doing a 'cicuit rider' hire for a full-time position split between a few other nearby small towns using intermunicipal agreements. I think you'll have better luck if it can be a full-time position in that manner, and could perhaps attract someone from outside the region if needed.

    If you're looking for examples of intermunicipal agreements for inspection/code services, I would suggest looking toward New England--there are a number of areas up there that did such agreements before eventually rolling them into a regional service through a COG. In a quick search, I would suggest looking at the Franklin County Cooperative Inspection Program in Massachusetts as a possible template. I also found this resource in New Jersey.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

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