What is so special about a special inspection?

During the construction process, many projects are required to hire a third-party engineer to perform a special inspection, but some are left wondering “why do I need to go through this process?”

Special inspections, a requirement under the International Building Code, were created in order to strengthen the safety of the public by ensuring that buildings are constructed in accordance to design plans, specifications, and approved drawings. 

Special inspection requirements were created as a result of numerous structural failures that occurred throughout the US during the 1970s and early 1980s. These events include:

  • March 2, 1973 – Skyline Plaza Apartment Building
    • During the construction of a 26-story residential tower, as workers were removing shoring from newly poured concrete between the 22nd and 23 floors, the building collapsed and killed 14 construction workers and injured 34 others. 
  • July 17, 1981 – Hyatt Regency
    • Above the lobby, two walkways collapsed, one directly above the other. They crashed onto a tea dance being held in the hotel’s lobby, killing 114 and injuring 216. 
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  •  March 27, 1981 – Harbour Cay Condominium
    • A five-story concrete building collapsed as concrete was being placed for the roof slab. There were 11 workers killed and 23 others were injured. 

The U.S. House Subcommittee investigated these accidents and determined that many of these construction failures were directly related to insufficient inspections, review, and oversight by design professionals during construction. 

Special inspections are outlined with great specificity in the International Building Code. A Special Inspection may be required for materials, installation, fabrication, erection, or placement of components. These inspections are performed by third-party engineers, directed by the relevant building official.

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This is a photo was taken during a special inspection; it was the stabilization of a foundation. The inspection was needed for the micro piles, welding, and epoxy anchorage.

Level Engineers are licensed experts in special inspections and have expertise in fulfilling on third-party independent inspections, such as:

  • Steel Construction
  • Structural steel
  • Cold-formed steel deck
  • Open-web steel joists and joist girders
  • Cold-formed steel trusses
  • Concrete construction
  • Welding of reinforcing bars
  • Masonry construction
  • Vertical masonry foundation elements
  • Wood construction
  • High-load diaphragms
  • Metal-plate-connected wood trusses 
  • Cast-in-place deep foundations
  • Helical pile foundations
  • Fabricated items
  • Special inspections for wind resistance
  • Structural wood
  • Cold-formed steel light-frame construction
  • Resisting components
  • Construction materials and systems that are alternatives
  • to materials and systems prescribed by this code.
  • Unusual design applications of materials described in the code.
  • Materials and systems required to be installed in accordance with
  • additional manufacturers instructions that prescribe requirements
  • not contained in this code or in standards referenced by the code.
  • And more…

If you are in need of a licensed engineer for a special inspection, Level Engineering can help. Call our client relations team at (720) 408-0119, and they can assist you in setting up an appointment with one of our engineers. 

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