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Field Inspection Section Highlight

The process of remodeling or constructing a home or commercial property can be stressful and taxing. However, Combination,

Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical and Structural Inspectors in the Development Services Department do their best to ensure that a project will meet the minimum standard of safety by performing the necessary inspections and making sure that applicable codes are adhered to.

Permitting is the primary tool used by the City to regulate construction in San Diego. Work done without permits can lead to safety standards not being met which could ultimately result in property damage or even worse, bodily injury and the threat to life.

Many people are not aware that you need a permit for all remodel construction. For example, a plumbing permit is needed if you are replacing an existing fixture such as a toilet. An electrical permit also may be required for any addition or change to a building’s existing system like adding an electrical plug-in for a computer in home office or a microwave in a kitchen. If you aren’t sure whether your project requires a permit, you can call (619) 446-5000 or go to the Development Services website at www.sandiego.gov/development-services. Field inspection is broken down into two groups- Combination Inspectors (who inspect 1 and 2 family dwellings) and Specialists Inspectors (comprised of Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical and Structural Inspectors who inspect multi-family, commercial and industrial projects).

Combination Inspectors are responsible for inspecting single family homes and duplexes. Their work is quite technical and deals with the intricate and ever-changing building codes and construction practices.

To ensure that inspectors are up to code in their understanding, they must maintain several different building certifications and attend training on environmental issues including lead paint and asbestos removal. Even with the stringent requirements for being an inspector, there is not high staff turnover. MEA member Mike Boerner has been with the division for 29 years!

Similar to Combination Inspectors, Specialists utilize the same base codes for their inspections. When inspecting projects other than 1 and 2 family dwellings, however, the construction design can get complex. For example, a high rise condominium project requires that the structural inspector not only verify code compliance, but that he or she must also manage a series of third party inspections and testing which occur throughout the duration of the project.

Plumbing and Mechanical Inspectors also inspect intricate systems that many people will later rely on to properly function with each use. The Electrical Inspector adheres to codes specific to the structure’s occupancy as well as an additional electrical system which supports the many functions of the building. For example, a high rise building requires an onsite generator to support the emergency system which would allow people to exit the building in case of an emergency.

Development Services inspectors do not just inspect a project, but really provide insight, guidance and technical code expertise throughout the process. Although we don’t necessarily think about it when we walk into a movie theater, high rise building or newly remodeled home, we have inspectors to thank for making sure that the structure is sound, the electricity is properly wired and running water comes out of the sink and toilets. Thank you field inspectors, MEA is proud to represent you!

Special thanks to Mark Chrysler for his assistance and division profile.