5 Things You Need to Know About Special Inspections

February 23, 2016

5 Things You Need to Know About Special Inspections

1. Why Special Inspections Were Created

Special Inspections began to be widely enforced after several strings of construction-related failures occurred. In the early 1980s, U.S. House Subcommittee examined causes of construction-related failures and determined one of the primary culprits was the lack of sufficient inspections performed by design professional of record during construction.

Some of the most notable construction related failures are:

  • Hyatt Regency Skywalk Collapse (114 dead, caused by construction changes without engineered review).
  • harbor-bay-condos-special-inspections-shield-engineering.pngHarbor Bay Condos (11 dead, caused by thin slabs and improper reinforcing placement).
  • Skyline Towers (14 dead, caused by removal of shoring before adequate concrete strength was reached).

2. Items Commonly Included in Special Inspections

Special Inspections are covered by the International Building Code in Chapter 17, and are sometimes referred to as “Chapter 17 Inspections”. Special Inspections on a project may include one or several of the following items:

  • Verification of Soils
  • Excavation and Fill
  • Deep Foundations
  • Modular Retaining Walls
  • Reinforced Concrete
  • Post Tension Concrete
  • skyline-towers-special-inspections-shield-engineering.pngPre-Cast Concrete Erection
  • Pre-Stressed Concrete
  • Inspection of Pre-Cast Fabricators
  • Inspection of Structural Steel Fabricators
  • Structural Masonry
  • Welding
  • High Strength Bolting and Steel Frame Inspections
  • Sprayed Fire Resistant Materials
  • Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS)
  • Seismic Resistance
  • Smoke Control
  • Detention Basins
  • Special Cases

3. Requirements for Special Inspections

The requirements for special inspections are based on numerous factors such as occupancy class, intended use, height, seismic categories, and wind zones. The DPIRC (Design Professional in Responsible Charge) typically indicates what inspections are required based on a review of the code. However, the authority having jurisdiction may require additional inspections.

Special Inspections per North Carolina Building Code 2012, Section 1704 are required for building, building components or other structures per the following:

  • Buildings or other structures listed in Table 1604.5 in Occupancy Category II if:
    • Building height exceeds 45 feet or three stories, or
    • The building is an Underground buildings per 405.1
    • Buildings or other structures listed in table 1604.5 in categories III or IV
    • Piles, piers and special foundations
    • Retaining walls or mechanically stabilized earth walls exceeding 5 feet height with a horizontal distance of 50 feet or less per 1806.2
    • Smoke control and smoke exhaust systems
    • Sprayed fire-resistant materials, or
    • Special case described in 1704.13
    • Retaining or mechanically stabilized earth walls exceeding five feet in height on a site require permits and special inspections by the engineer of record and the owner shall reserve funds for same in the project budget or engage an independent firm at their expense

4. Special Inspections Report to Owners or the DPIRC

Special Inspections firms work for owners or for the DPIRC (Design Professional in Responsible Charge) acting as the owner’s agent. A special inspections firm does not work directly for the contractor in cases where the inspection requirements are required by code, as this could be construed as a conflict of interest.

5. Special Inspections are Performed in Conjunction with the Building Official

When required by code or by the authority having jurisdiction, Special Inspections are always performed in conjunction with the building official. The requirement for Special Inspections does not alleviate the building official from their obligation to perform required inspections.

Shield Engineering Can Complete Your Special Inspections!

shield-engineering-logo.jpgShield is a full service Civil Engineering firm based in Charlotte, NC with a strong staff of engineers, inspectors and technicians. Our team is capable of performing the required Special Inspections for numerous types of projects, and our Special Inspectors have a large experience base with multistory residential, municipal and industrial construction.

For more information on how Shield Engineering can assist with Special Inspections, please fill out the form on our website or call 800-395-5220 to speak to a Shield team member.  

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