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CT third party proposal?

Discussion in 'Connecticut' started by steveray, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    CT is looking to start a program to certify third party companies to perform reviews and inspections to expedite projects when the Towns will not staff up to meet customer demands, it's going to be some kind of wierd setup where we are still issuing permits and CO's, but someone else may be doing plan reviews and inspections.....Wondering if anyone has any feedback on this type of setup? I guess it is going to be based on a Washington DC model....

    Thanks!

    AAC Certification of Independent Inspection Agencies
    Proposal:
    Section 1 authorizes DAS to establish an application program to certify independent inspection firms. The program will establish and maintain minimum qualifications, administrative guidelines and procedures to ensure that all inspections or reviews conducted by independent inspection firms are at the highest professional level, and to ensure a process for verification and auditing of the independent inspection firms.
    Section 2 of this bill will revise CGS 29-195 to allow inspections of elevators to be performed by the independent firms certified under this program.
    Need:
    • Most local building departments are both under-staffed and overloaded with projects. Limited staffing causes delays in scheduling inspections, creating delays in productivity for contractors. DAS continues to hear more and more of lengthy delays in scheduling inspections, especially in the mechanical and electrical trades.
    • Limited staffing does not allow building departments the necessary time to perform thorough inspections.
    • Smaller municipal departments do not have the volume of work necessary to justify hiring trade-specific inspectors for all trades.
    • An unregulated market already exists to provide plan review and inspection consulting services. This program would provide minimum standards, oversight and audit functions to this market, to improve its performance and insure the reliability of the independent firm’s product.
    • The majority of building inspectors nationwide have reached retirement age, threatening to further exacerbate the shortage of licensed inspectors in the next three to five years.
    Benefits:
    • Allows contractors and building owners to prosecute work more efficiently with increased schedule certainty creating cost savings and aiding the development and construction market.
    • Allows a local department to leverage limited resources with outside resources to provide more, and more timely, reviews and inspections improving overall public safety.
    • Will free local department resources to improve customer relations with homeowners and focus on problem projects/contractors improving the taxpayer’s service experience.
    Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer
    • Provides consistency and baseline quality standard for inspection firms vs. the current unregulated inspection market place.
    Implementation Process:
    DAS intends to use the District of Columbia program as a model, modifying it as needed to meet Connecticut’s unique marketplace. Similar to the current code development process, DAS intends to engage stakeholders in the development process early on to insure the program will function well for all parties.
    Proposed Language:
    Sec. 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2020):
    (a) The State Building Inspector and the Codes and Standards Committee acting jointly, with the approval of the Commissioner of Administrative Services, shall establish a program to certify independent inspection firms to perform code inspections for submission to the local building official. The program shall establish classifications of inspection firms, the duties and responsibilities of each inspection firm at each such classification level, including the insurance requirements and the minimum qualifications of inspection firms at each such classification level. It shall establish an oversight and audit program administered by the State Building Inspector to insure the consistency and quality of a certified inspection firm’s work product. The State Building Inspector may charge any person a reasonable fee for applying for certification. The commissioner may waive any such fee for any person who applies, in the form and manner prescribed by the commissioner, for a waiver of such fee and demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay such fee.
    (b) The State Building Inspector, with the approval of the Commissioner of Administrative Services, shall establish a program to certify independent inspectors to perform elevator or escalator inspections for submission to the Department of Administrative Services. The program shall establish classifications of inspectors, the duties and responsibilities of each inspectors at each such classification level, including the insurance requirements and the minimum qualifications of inspectors at each classification level. It shall establish an oversight and audit program to insure the consistency and quality of a certified inspection firm’s work product. The commissioner may charge any person a reasonable fee for applying for certification. The commissioner may waive any such fee for any person who applies, in the form and manner prescribed by the commissioner, for a waiver of such fee and demonstrates that he or she is financially unable to pay such fee.
    Sec. 2. Section 29-195 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2020):
    Each elevator or escalator shall be thoroughly inspected by a department elevator inspector or an inspector certified by the department pursuant to subsection (b) of section 1 of this act at least once each eighteen months, except elevators located in private residences shall be inspected upon the request of the owner. More frequent inspections of any elevator or escalator shall be made if the condition thereof indicates that additional inspections are necessary or desirable.
     
  2. ICE

    ICE Moderator

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    "The majority of building inspectors nationwide have reached retirement age, threatening to further exacerbate the shortage of licensed inspectors in the next three to five years."

    So where will the contract inspectors come from? Experienced senior, top level, inspectors is what this will require. At least that's the perception when a state inspector shows up.

    The inspectors must be willing to travel. They can't write too many corrections in jurisdictions that aren't much good at inspecting. If they think that things are slow now, wait until professionals get a grip on their building dept.

    Nobody from the building departments, contractors or owners will be pleased with the state coming in and showing them how it is supposed to be done.

    Who will pay for this?

    I don't know but I've been told that when third party companies do the plan checking as well as the inspections, inspectors look for reasons to send the job back through plan check or they ask for an engineer. This of course, runs up the bill.
     
    #2 ICE, Feb 13, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  3. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    Looks like the great state of Connecticut, has a state wide building code.

    I know some cities use third parties.

    Normally approved by the city.

    Contractor pays for the inspection or plan review.

    You can give Steve Thomas a call and ask questions:: get guidance:


    https://www.coloradocode.net/about/company-directory/
     
  4. e hilton

    e hilton Bronze Member

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    I have pulled several permits in the District. Seems to work ok, but it definitely is not faster. Costs more. We have to submit to the third party, pay a fee, respond to a couple of rounds of questions and resubmittals. Then we submit to the District, and wait. And wait. While they review the drawings. Apparently they don’t take the approval of the third party as anything more than quality control and spell check.

    But don’t forget this is Washington, headquarters of inefficiency and money wasting.
     
  5. cda

    cda Sawhorse

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    No say it ain’t so. I thought they worked five days a week there.

    Yep the limited third party we farm out, we check, more because we have a lot of amendments
     
  6. e hilton

    e hilton Bronze Member

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    Checking behind them is one thing. After we get third party approval, the review time in the District is 30 days minimum.
     
  7. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    These will be people certified and audited by the State, not employed by the State...At this time it is proposed to be a "pay for expedited service" situation where the contractor/ developer agrees to pay more...
     
  8. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    Guessing they are hoping to avoid that, not that anyone wants to approve a violation, but if the department has time to do the review, then they should be doing it in the first place....
     
  9. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    I think a central question is whether the third party issues an approval or whether they make a recommendation that is reviewed and possibly approved by the local jurisdiction. If the third party issues the formal approval it is likely that this will be an improper delegation of a governmental approval to a private entity.

    In addition to the state expressing a desire to establish a list of firms to provide this service they will also have to create a system of active supervision of these entities in order to avoid potential antitrust liability.

    On the other hand if these inspection firms contract directly with the enforcing agency many of these issues go away.

    Since this is perceived to be a longstanding problem it would seem that jurisdictions could just as easily hire more people and raise the permit fees to cover the costs. Two or more jurisdictions could agree to share inspectors if it was not feasible to hire one inspector for each jurisdiction.

    If the state establishes a system for licensing of inspectors then this will likely create tensions if not conflicts with the state laws regulating the practice of engineering or architecture.

    Why set up a regulatory system for inspectors when inspections are a part of the practice of engineering or architecture. This means that inspectors should be working under the supervision of a registered engineer or architect. Thus it is the responsibility of the supervising engineer or architect to make sure the inspectors are qualified.
     
  10. e hilton

    e hilton Bronze Member

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    Since this is perceived to be a longstanding problem it would seem that jurisdictions could just as easily hire more people and raise the permit fees to cover the costs.

    So do you want to be the government official who proposed to hire more people? Or would you rather say that you avoided hiring by shifting the cost and responsibility to a third party? Outsourcing is the term.
     
  11. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    Thanks for your input Mark! 99% of our Towns do not have an architect or engineer in the building department and neither of them are allowed to "inspect" in lieu of a licensed inspector in CT.

    I believe the intent is for the third party to issue approvals, not just recommendations...We suffer from an issue of the Towns using the BD as a cash cow and not delivering the service the customer deserves and staffing up could be a solution but I do not believe the State would mandate it over the Towns (unfunded mandate is the cry)....Which is part of the reason for this approach.
     
  12. Mark K

    Mark K Platinum Member

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    I believe you will find that giving a third party the right to perform the basic governmental function is in conflict with the state constitution.

    California has solved the problem of incentivizing minimal reviews by preventing local jurisdictions from charging building permit fees in excess of what the building department spends . This prevents the City from using building permit fees as a cash cow.
     
  13. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

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    If only....
     

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