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Contracting building inspection

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
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1,555
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22
My Building Official job has been a nightmare to fill over the past few years and I'm considering contracting out with a Building Inspector a few days a week instead of continuing the search for a full-time employee right now. Does anyone have experience with this? Pros? Cons?

I've personally only ever worked with in-house employees.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
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12,518
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40
Depends on your work load and customer service philosophy.

Anecdotally, I've heard less than stellar stories about private providers of such critical services. This revolves around overly bureaucratic thinking and more concern about repeat fees (ie revenue) and extensive CYAing to the detriment of the client community's image.

I have decent experience with public entities providing such contract services - ie Counties providing to smaller entities within the County. The County office can have 'accessible' elected officials with clear constituents if issues arise.

I prefer the Building official/permitting processing/inspections as in-house staff of the municipality. Greatest level of accountability and, if salaried and the right person in the job, more amenable to good customer service.

Maybe your situation needs to increase the starting salary/fringe benefits for the position. That often helps overcome a seeming or actual applicant pool problem.

Lastly, in Ohio we're seeing the start of a potentially catastrophic collaspe of the pool of capable and knowledgable candidates for inspectors and Bldg officials with the drop off/retirement/death the mainly oldest and middle Boomers that make up a vast majority of the pool. This is a real threat.
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
Messages
1,353
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16
Our city has a contract building staff, including the permit technicians, inspectors, and building official. I personally have a more pessimistic view of contract staff since the customer service philosophy may come second to their ability to have billable work, but our company luckily does a decent job overall... we are also a small city, so filling those roles with city-employed individuals may be a bit difficult. Some firms are also better than others.

Lastly, in Ohio we're seeing the start of a potentially catastrophic collaspe of the pool of capable and knowledgable candidates for inspectors and Bldg officials with the drop off/retirement/death the mainly oldest and middle Boomers that make up a vast majority of the pool. This is a real threat.
This seems to be a growing issue. Our contract firm has noted a shrinking pool of candidates, and other cities that have tried hiring their own staff have also struggled; why be an inspector when you can make more as a contractor. But even the contracting world around here has struggled to recover since the last recession.
 
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