City

Building Inspector's Duties

Just as the contractor generally seeks to make a profit, the homeowner tries to get construction and remodeling work done as inexpensively as possible.

So it's the job of the building inspector to give an unbiased opinion to both contractors and homeowners as to what is acceptable and required for all building jobs.

The inspector's primary function is to ensure everyone's safety by insisting that uniform codes and standards of the building industry are used in all construction and remodeling projects. Electrical, mechanical and building codes are put in place so that everyone knows what the expected result of a project should be. This requires the inspector to have a good knowledge of many different areas regarding building construction. And as we all know, there is no such thing as a free lunch. That's where the permit fees come in.

At the time, permit fees might seem costly, but in actuality, they only amount to 1 percent or less of the total value of the project.

It's very difficult to get an unbiased opinion at that price (especially one with your best interest and safety at heart). The permits cover the cost of the Building Department's operations. In Michigan, as in most other states, the operations of the building offices of a city are not specifically paid by taxes but rather by the generation of revenues through permit fees.

So the next time you see your friendly building inspector, don't think of him as the guy who's going to charge you all sorts of fees. Think of him as a person who may save your life and the lives of your family members by making sure the building you work or live in meets uniform code standards.

By David Swanstrom