The Importance of a Well-Defined Special Inspections Program, Part 2

Key Entities for Program Success

12 January 2021

In our previous blog post, we discussed the importance of special inspections in the building and construction industry and the key roles, particularly the role of the AHJ.  In this post we will go over understanding a published special inspection program by all parties.

Once a special inspection program has been defined by the AHJ, the understanding of the program by the remaining project team members is paramount to the successful delivery of the process throughout design and construction.  The owner, or owner's agent, must have an appropriate level of understanding regarding the requirements of the local jurisdiction in which they intend to build.  They must understand that not every locale is considered equal in requirements, and many may require additional funding associated with required inspections and tests. They must understand the level of quality, ethical obligations, and responsibilities of the professionals to which they aim to hire.

The RDPiRC must be intimately familiar with the local jurisdictional requirements for their design.  They are tasked with preparing a project specific statement of special inspections.  The statement must be applicable to specific project work items and address the requirements of the AHJ.  This statement is approved by the AHJ through issuing a building permit and is a critical document for both the special inspector and contractor's use during construction, ensuring that the proper inspections are performed.

Lastly, the general contractor and special inspector must be thoroughly versed in understanding the building code, the requirements, and processes of the AHJ, the project's statement of special inspections and the approved construction plans and specifications.  The general contractor typically holds a level of responsibility for managing the day-to-day tasks during construction with ultimate contractual obligation to build the building in accordance with the approved construction documents.  As such, they are responsible for coordinating the special inspections and notifying the special inspector in a timely manner of necessary inspections at defined timeframes.

To properly coordinate these inspections, the contractor must understand the project's requirements as they relate to special inspections. A contractor's unawareness can lead to missed inspections or inspections at incorrect frequencies, open non-conformances or other items contributing to delays at project final.  The special inspection agency (or multiple agencies) understanding of special inspections is essential to the successful delivery of services on the project.  They must consider the project, AHJ and RDPiRC requirements during preparation of a budget estimate and anticipated scope of work for the project.  They must be appropriately qualified by education and experience to perform Special Inspections, and also perform the Special Inspections at the defined required intervals or frequencies. 

To summarize, the proper development, implementation, and completion of a special inspection program centers at the knowledge, understanding and actions of all key members of the project team. The importance of a well-defined special inspections program and the understanding of all parties of that well-defined program lead to a successful, timely and within budget project.  Like many tasks in business, life, and relationships, defining expectations early will lead to exceeding those expectations, and ultimately meet project objectives and measured success of the endeavor.



Bryan Sy,
Chief Engineer, Building & Construction


Bryan Sy is a chief engineer at Intertek-PSI, with 14 years of construction services consulting experience on a wide range of CS projects, including energy infrastructure, industrial facilities, commercial and retail facilities, airport, municipal and heavy civil infrastructure, multi-family, and healthcare projects. He is a licensed professional engineer in Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan, and he currently holds the position of President-Elect on the State Board of the Texas Council of Engineering Laboratories.