View Full Version : Certified Building Official Exams

September 29th, 2010, 13:24
I was wondering who took the CBO exams out there and how they studied for the exams. I have not been able to find any study guides online and was wondering what sort of questions were asked on the exams.

September 29th, 2010, 13:45
I don't think the internet existed when I took and passed mine in 1991

September 29th, 2010, 14:14
I had my combo cert so I only needed to get the legal module. Didn't have any prep guides, just familiarized myself with unfamiliar reference material as best possible, no way to really "study" the material, just needed to know the layouts and what basic info was in each reference. Worked for me.........

Bryan Holland
September 29th, 2010, 14:16
I just followed the exam content outline provided by ICC and got really, really, really familiar with all the references.

I know of a few others that took CBO prep courses from England Enterprises, but I am not too sure that is really necessary.

To be blunt, if youy can't pass thoses tests, then you haven't properly prepared and don't deserve the certification. Your inquiry here is a good indication that you are on the right path by trying to learn all you can about the exams...

Chad Pasquini
September 29th, 2010, 14:39
I also followed the exam content outline and passed the technology portion, now studing for the legal part. and dont forget to bring all of your books with you.

September 29th, 2010, 15:12
Back when I took it it in '94ish. It was three parts in one day; pass or fail it all. I didn't have time to reference the books.

Get comfortable with the codes and other reference books. Limber up your fingers so you can flip pages RRREEEEAAALLLLY fast. Answer the ones you know and then go back for the rest.

If you know your job it should be easy peasy, as the Brits say. Good luck.

September 29th, 2010, 17:08
Chad, I'm in the same boat. just passed the tech module last month. Now have to study for the legal / management. If you have an extra $1,000 plus travel and meals I would highly recommend: http://www.constructionexam.com/

September 29th, 2010, 18:44
I think the best way to pass is to look up every issue possible that passes over your desk, "bang heads" with your office mates and counterparts over the meaning and interpretation whenever possible, spend time inside of the code book in the context of real applications and issues in the field, and do that for several years or how ever many are needed for you to pass the exam. Take the exam every now and then to see how your body of knowledge and dexterity with the pages is measuring up.

September 29th, 2010, 19:15
Yankee, have to disagree to a small extent. Real don't mean jack. The people who write the exams to a large extent have never gotton mud on their boots.

September 29th, 2010, 20:25
Yankee, have to disagree to a small extent. Real don't mean jack. The people who write the exams to a large extent have never gotton mud on their boots.And I'd disagree with your post 98% . . . taking a study course to pass these exams does not an inspector/code officer/building official make.

September 29th, 2010, 21:02
The best way to pass an exam is read the code and get the turbo tabs.

The certs look pretty on a wall.. but isn't the true measure of being able to apply what's in the books. Good for plan reviewers and admin types.. less for field folk.

I know a dozen MCP's who couldn't inspect their way out of a paperbag with a code book and scissors. But they can do a good plan review, and run a department effectively.

September 29th, 2010, 23:18
And I'd disagree with your post 98% . . . taking a study course to pass these exams does not an inspector/code officer/building official make.

Well, at least we agree on 2%. I do agree 100% with "taking a study course to pass these exams does not an inspector/code officer/building official make." Just you can pass gas dosen't make one a proctologist. Had a "supervisor" not to long ago that was a icc (cow) certified plans examiner. Passed the exam. No more a plans examiner than a road apple drying in the sun.

peach, good post and right in line with what yankee posted.

September 30th, 2010, 00:37
Anyone smart enough to take a college entrance exam(ACT) and get a high enough score to enter college, could pass these tests without much effort. Having the ICC alphabet soup after your name is hardly anything to brag about.

September 30th, 2010, 05:47
incognito: I have to agree with you on that point.

September 30th, 2010, 07:25
Peach, I have to agree with you. I know a fellow that brags that his certs just mean that he passed the test. He knows nothing about real world inspections.

incognito: I have to agree with you on that point too.

<<Rant deleted after thinking about it.>>

vegas paul
September 30th, 2010, 08:12
A new cert is simply a license to start learning. Go ahead and get the CBO or whatever other cert you long for, by whatever means is easiest for you. But then, keep your eyes and ears open, ask questions, and start learning!

Chad Pasquini
September 30th, 2010, 11:26
jpranch, i wish i had an extra 1,000. It has been in my experiance to study the reference material and go from there, its amazing how many questions one gets at the counter, and to be able to flip to the correct sections takes away from the panic when you have an upset contractor or home owner breathing down your neck. I have several friends who have paid to go to test centers and have spoken highly of them, i just feel a little better knowing that i new where to look for the answeres, I may not have completly understood the correct answere but i new where to find it.

September 30th, 2010, 15:24
Like Pyrguy, mine was in three parts, so I don't know how this relates to the current exam. But back then, the best route was to gain some experience, critically study the suggested references, gain some more experience, ask questions, then study some more. Then haul your 100 pound load of books to the test center and take the exams. (This last part took some doing to convince the exam center proctors that I really was entitled to bring in all those books, as they had not seen an exam that allowed/required so many.)

September 30th, 2010, 15:34
Yep that Blacks Law Dictionary was pretty big. :D

October 5th, 2010, 20:45
Thanks for all your replies everyone, it's sounds like experience is the best preparation for the CBO exams. If I can afford it I'll look into that construction exam place (thanks jpranch).

Glennman CBO
October 7th, 2010, 20:40
I took a practice exam on line (International Code Campus). It was around $60.00. It has a timed practice test, as well as other benefits.

I also read every book that is referenced all the way through, and even read Robert E. Obannon's book twice.

That way, you become familiar with which book will have the answer.

The only question that I really got stuck on had to do with different types of budgets. It was like the 2nd question in the exam, and I was really flustered the rest of the way through because of it. I spent way too much time on it, and thought for sure I wouldn't pass. To this day I haven't figured it out.

I remove the table of contents and indexes from all the loose leaf code books at all tests. I staple them togetherand have them handy so that I'm not wasting time going to the front and back of the book all the time. Works for me.

If you pass, it feels good, but it is only a step. Like others have said, it doesn't make you a BO. However, I might be in the line up for a BO/FM position in the jurisdiction I am currently working for because of it. I'm the only one who is certified, and they only have an "acting" BO right now. My cert has generated alot of discussion among the powers that be, so it has definately been to my advantage.

Take the test, pass it, then take advantage of the opportunities.

texas transplant
October 8th, 2010, 10:05

I took my CBO back in 1985 when it was still a 3 part test. And most of us didn't know what the internet was. I simply got the books that BOCA and CABO suggested for study guides, read them, familiarize myself with the indexes and took the test. They were not bad at all. I spent about 3 months reading the books.

Now my senior inspector just took her CBO about 4 months ago. It was kind of funny in the sense, the only thing that had changed about the recommended books was the edition numbers. She found the books at a bargain on Amazon, where I had to pay full price (yes I am old enough to remember before Amazon was anything other than a river in South America or really tall, strong and beautiful women in movies LOL). She studied about three months and passed both modules the first try.

As long as you read and can comprehend the suggested study guides and are familiar with the indexes, you will not find the tests hard at all. The hard part is going to be reading a couple of the very dry books without falling asleep.

Good luck and happy reading. And what the others said about the certs, they don't make the inspector, you need to get your boots and hands dirty and you need the right mentality also.

I wish you well.

October 9th, 2010, 13:16
None of it is rocket science.. it's being able to cull out the real question and forget the extraneous information sometimes provided. (Like what you will get from the customer/contractor/client). The rest is finding the answer in the book.