ICC Publishes Guidelines for Virtual Building Inspections

The coronavirus pandemic has made remote virtual inspections a necessity. But are they here to stay?

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COVID-19 has altered life across the globe, changing the way people, businesses and organizations operate everywhere. This is even true in construction, an industry notoriously resistant to change.

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But change is inevitable for everyone. The International Code Council (ICC) just announced big changes to the world of construction, particularly regarding building inspections.

The council recently published a document detailing how certain inspections can be done remotely using drones or other devices, along with some best practices.

“Remote Virtual Inspection is a method of inspection that allows the needed inspections to proceed in a timely manner by the owner or contractor located on the jobsite and the inspector or inspection teams performing the inspection remotely,” reads the ICC document. “While this practice gained good acceptance and implementation during the weeks and months of COVID-19 social distancing, its advantages are so great that it will likely become a popular and routine tool for the foreseeable future.”

The ten-page document offers guidance to contractors and inspectors on how to implement these virtual inspections. It also gives examples of inspections that can be conducted virtually, including:

  • Plumbing system repairs or fixture replacements;
  • Construction trailer installations;
  • Electric utility clearances;
  • HVAC direct replacement or repair;
  • Minor residential electrical;
  • Miscellaneous repair/exterior repair or upgrades (stucco, windows, etc.);
  • Re-roofing/roof covering replacement;
  • Water heater or water softener direct replacement;
  • New residential plumbing rough-in;
  • New residential rough framing inspections;
  • Residential rooftop-mounted photovoltaic panel systems.

“This list is not all-inclusive,” the document states. “The determination of whether an inspection can be conducted remotely is at the sole discretion of the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction).”

The document also lists training considerations for AHJ’s that want to begin conducting virtual inspections. It highlights methods that the inspector and the party being inspected can follow to ensure a smooth process. Those include:

  • Ensuring that active permits are issued and certificate applications have been filed before the inspection is scheduled;
  • Fully charging any devices that will be involved in the inspection;
  • Ensuring the jobsite has access to a strong internet connection;
  • Keeping plans, permits and any other necessary documents readily accessible on the jobsite;
  • Ensuring that good lighting will be available at the time of the inspection;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and clearing out the area to be inspected.

For more information and an in-depth look at the ICC’s recommendations for remote virtual inspections, read the full document here.