How Green is Your Inspector?

Dealing with a wet-behind-the-ears building official

Working with building inspectors presents all kinds of challenges: Ideally, they’re looking out for the owner and the builder, making sure things are done correctly, safely and to code. Of course, there are exceptions: Someone overly bureaucratic can make life a living hell, while someone sloppy and careless might overlook an issue that becomes a bigger problem down the road.

So what to do when your assigned official is a greenhorn? Dan takes a Zen approach. “Our guy is really nice, hard-working and committed, but he’s brand new, so things can take a little longer," he says. "Sure, it’s frustrating at times, but what can you do? I could get mad and pushy, but that won’t help anything—on this job, or others down the road. I know I’ll be working with him on future projects, so it’s better to be patient and let him get up to speed. If I can help him out with that learning curve, we’ll have a better relationship in the future.”

It’s tough to have such an unflappable attitude when time and money are at stake and stressed clients are breathing down your back. But in the end, as Dan explains, the building department has the final say anyway, so you might as well do whatever you can to keep them on your side.

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