A building inspector is a person that is employed by a local government, state or county and is typically licensed in one or more fields to render professional judgment concerning whether a proposed building conforms to building code requirements according to the law. In most states, there are currently no federal requirements regarding building inspections.
However, many cities and counties do have local rules limiting the number of days that a building inspector may remain on-site and restrict the types of repairs that can be made. Some cities and counties also require that the building inspector is on-site for a specific amount of time. If an inspector does not adhere to the rules, they can be removed from the premises, and if they return, they must remain on-site for the full period of time allotted by the rule.
In many cases, a building inspector will inspect structures before the general public can enter them. This is often to prevent the possibility of structural damage or fire safety hazards before the general public being allowed onto the property. Structural quality inspections are most often conducted by building inspectors who focus primarily on systems with mechanical elements such as roofs and columns. Fire safety inspections are usually conducted by inspectors who specialize in fire protection.
The majority of building inspectors are required by law to acquire a specific certification to provide valid certification to build construction sites. These programs vary from state to state and generally include either an examination or written examination coupled with field experience. In addition, many states require that the building inspector successfully pass the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Examination. To meet the requirements of these state codes, the individual needs to be proficient in the codes that apply to their specific area of expertise.
To become a building inspector in either the U.S. or Canada, a person must first complete a two-year degree at an accredited university or college or a one-year associate’s degree from a vocational/trade school. Before working as a building inspector in either the U.S. or Canada, individuals must also complete a four-year degree from an accredited university or college or a one-year associate degree from a vocational/trade school. Along with becoming a certified building inspector in the U.S. or Canada, many inspectors also choose to continue their education and obtain a master’s degree in structural design or building science. Many of these individuals choose to pursue careers as managers of structural design consultants. Many building inspectors also opt to become educational and professional members of the International Society of Building Inspectors (ISBN).
To be properly trained in building inspection, individuals must also be familiar with the various types of performed inspections. Specifically, they need to know about building inspections that are commonly used by various governmental agencies such as the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (PCBP), Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Insurance Corporation of America (ICAA), Bank of America, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, American Home Mortgage Association (AMBA), Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and The Federal Reserve Board. These inspections are broken down into several categories to ensure that all individuals studying to become building inspectors are aware of the breadth and depth of their job.