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4-way Building Code Inspection

Framing | Windows and Exterior doors | Rough plumbing HVAC & gas lines | Rough electrical | >>4-way inspection

   At this stage inspection of the rough framing, rough plumbing, rough HVAC, and rough electrical takes place.  Some building jurisdictions have a final 4-way inspection and others break the 4-way into separate inspections. The second option allows an expert in each area to inspect each part of the rough-in work.

     The job of the inspector is to make sure that the construction of the house follows applicable building codes.  Since the building code is not "concrete" and is open to interpretation, subcontractors and inspectors often disagree about the meaning of certain code requirements.
     However, most subcontractors know that it is in their best interest (and the owner builder) to get along well with the inspector even when they seem to be unreasonable.  If you show that you are willing to satisfy the code and follow the inspectors corrections it will help make subsequent inspections go smoothly.

Rough framing
     The rough framing is the first part of the 4-way inspection.  At this stage the house will be completely framed with exterior doors and windows installed.  
     There are literally hundreds of items that the inspector will look for during the framing inspection the most important of which are structural items.  The inspector will check bearing walls and point loads to see if they are transferred all the way to the foundation.  Fire blocking and bracing are also items that are high on the inspection list.  Inspectors will not usually check that a wall is plumb or that a room is square as that is up to the builder.

Rough plumbing
     The plumber installs the DWV and supply pipes to all fixtures, appliances and exterior hose bibs.  Tubs are installed, as are shower drains and shower pans.  It is a good idea to cover tubs and showers after installation as they are very susceptible to damage from other subs during the finishing stages of the construction.
     Part of the rough plumbing inspection will be a pressure test on the DWV and supply lines which will make sure that the pipes don't leak.  Once the inspection is scheduled, it is the plumbers responsibility to pretest the systems and have them "pressured up" when the inspector arrives

Rough HVAC
    Now the furnace and all ductwork is installed.  It is important that the furnace is in working order after the rough-in since if the weather is cold the Drywall and paint crew will need heat to complete their jobs.
    Hot water heating systems also require a pressure test to check for leaks. Again, coordinate with the HVAC sub to ensure that the system is "under test" when the inspector arrives.

Gas piping
     The gas piping is inspected by the gas company or by the building inspector by putting it under a low pressure test to check for leaks.  Check with the gas company to find out who will do the inspection.  

After the inspection
     If you have passed the inspection, you are ready to  move on with the construction schedule. If not you will have a list of deficiencies from the inspector. Contact the subcontractors and let them know which items need to be fixed. 
     Most subcontractors are anxious to pass the inspections (and get paid! ) so generally they will come the next day to fix their work.  Most fixes are minor and can be completed in less than an hour.  Before calling for a re-inspection go over the list and make sure that all the items have been fixed.  The follow-up inspection should only cover those areas that failed in the first inspection.

Notes to the owner-builder
     Make sure that the inspector understands that your goal is to comply with all building code requirements and don't be afraid to ask questions if you don't understand why an inspector asks for changes or corrections.  If you have competent subcontractors, problems will be minimal.  
     Work with your subcontractors to get their work inspected in a timely manner.  Some contractors like to call for their own inspection (where each trade is inspected by a separate inspector).  In areas where a four-way inspection is required it will be up to you to coordinate the inspection and make sure that all the work is complete.


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