If you’re in the trade, you probably know that with commercial building comes a certain amount of compulsory building inspections that a project must undergo in order to be signed off. Project managers and builders know all too well that a project will come to a grinding halt if certain stages aren’t up to scratch.
It really depends on the type of project but generally, inspections will come after each major stage of a build, including footings, waterproofing and handover stages.
What you may not know is that there are also a number of non-compulsory inspections that a commercial property can undergo too. Unfortunately, so many commercial builders skip these inspections. For example, there may be cause for inspections to happen in between compulsory stage inspections. Pre-defect inspections are a prime example of this and I always love to use the pre-paint stage as an example here.
You see, between the fit-out and the final inspections, a lot of work can be done. The building is rarely inspected before it is painted. Now that’s a massive job, especially in a large commercial building. Without a pre-paint inspection, a lot of time and money could be wasted in having to go back, rectify and re-paint, when it could have just been fixed in the first place.
But that’s not where construction-stage inspections end either. The possibilities are really endless in terms of what you should be inspecting in your commercial build. This is especially true when you have a lot of parties in the mix.
Think about it – if you have client, project manager and builder all working together, there may be the need for one, or all of those parties to have their own independent inspections.
So, let’s take a closer look at why third-party compulsory and non-compulsory inspections are so important during the construction of a commercial building.
While you might feel that it’s obvious that inspections will give you peace of mind that the quality of work being conducted is to a high standard, unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. You’re likely aware that each build comes with a unique structure in terms of the involvement of different parties.
Sometimes there’s just one person involved – the builder – who may take on a project with the view to sell afterward. They can do all of the work themselves and can sometimes do their own inspections too.
Often, two parties – the builder and the client (or investor) – will be involved, with the client paying the builder to carry out works for them. Again, it is the builder’s responsibility to either do the inspections themselves or organise them.
Then, you can find situations, especially on large builds where builder, investor and project manager are all in the mix. At this point, it is really the responsibility of the project manager to make sure that the build is on track, quality assurance is really looked at and inspections are managed. Usually, this structure makes for the best outcome in terms of a high-quality final product but, again, it’s not always the case.
So, with all of the potential fingers in the pie, it’s probably becoming clearer as to why third-party inspections are so important. Here are the top 5 reasons independent inspections should ALWAYS be undertaken during construction.
The first reason you should invest in an independent inspection is so you can reduce bias.
All too often, builders sign off on their own work that may not have necessarily passed the checks of a third-party inspector. Now, obviously, not all builders are shonky, but it’s really difficult to remove the element of consequence if a construction company also employs their own inspectors.
Simply put, if an inspector’s assessment will negatively impact the company which they work for, they may be more lenient when it comes to signing off stages of the build – even if it’s subconscious.
If you’re a builder, investing in a third-party inspector, even if only for some elements of the build, will enable you to prevent speculation of sub-par workmanship or dishonest building practices.
If you’re a project manager, you’re in the firing line should anything go wrong, so being able to trust that the sign-off is legitimate gives you great peace of mind.
Reason Number 2 is that you may uncover deeper issues with more thorough checks.
It’s not uncommon in any walk of life for people to do the bare minimum, especially when time is of the essence and profit margins are tight. Unfortunately, in the building game, this can lead to oversights when it comes to inspections.
Busy project managers or in-house inspectors often have a checklist of the things that MUST be checked, and they sign off on works that meet the minimum requirements. While third-party inspections can technically sign off on the same level of work, they can and often do, dig a little deeper.
They go the extra mile too, for example, check defects in concrete before it’s lined or spend more time examining certain elements of a build which would often just be given the once over.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not saying that all inhouse inspections are subpar, it’s just that sometimes, going the extra mile is what it takes to identify a problem. And identifying a problem early is the key to rectifying it before it becomes a huge issue!
The third reason you should always get an independent inspection is that you are covered from a legal standpoint.
By doing your due diligence, you can prove that you did everything within your power to ensure the structural integrity, safety and workmanship of a build was 100% up to the standard of current building regulations and compliance legislation.
Laws change and third party inspectors are at the front of the line when it comes to brushing up on what’s what! Whilst it’s obviously still a good idea to keep up to date with what’s happening in your field, it’s easy to overlook an update…and unfortunately, ignorance isn’t a valid excuse should things go wrong later down the track.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the fourth reason you should hire an independent inspector is so you save time and money.
Generally, independent inspections pave the way for early detections. In a nutshell, by engaging in the services of a third-party inspection service, problems are more likely to be detected before work moves forward and something small becomes a major issue.
Mistakes identified after the period in which they can be easily fixed can be extremely costly, both in terms of time and money. Regardless of whether you’re an investor, project manager or builder, sticking to your timeframe and budget is paramount and a third party inspection can help you do just that.
Finally, third party inspections can actually position YOU as the expert.
If you hand over your buildings with a higher level of inspections than your competitors, you’re automatically positioning yourself as an expert who delivers projects to the highest standards.
Not only will your client be impressed, it may also just be a factor in securing new clients too. For investor-builders, being able send a property to market with a rigorous inspection history is key for a speedy sale, especially now with the myriad of issues that have been experienced in high-rise apartment buildings.
Whichever path you choose, inspections HAVE to be done. It’s up to you how much weight you put on the importance of having non-biased and potentially more thorough inspections conducted in your property.
Just ask yourself this: the worst isn’t necessarily always going to happen, but if it does, can your business survive both from a financial and reputation standpoint?