A New Normal: Virtual Inspections

iStock-925691058The current pandemic has forced many industries to develop alternative methods for their typical operations, and construction is no different. In the first of a new series we’re calling, “How Construction Will Change,” Insulation Institute takes a look at a growing trend for the building industry: virtual code inspections.


The Ultimate in Social Distancing is Virtual

Jurisdictions across the country have implemented virtual inspections as a way to protect the health of trades and ensure social distancing. Virtual inspections also preserve jobs, allowing inspectors to continue to work while avoiding potential transmission of COVID-19.

As an alternative to in-person inspections, virtual inspections enable prompt service, productive follow-up, and more specific scheduling, according to the Arlington County, Virginia website, which has transitioned most of its building inspections to this method. Inspections are conducted between the builder customer and the inspector through a video call, smartphone, or tablet. They are thought to be just as thorough and effective as in-person inspections.

In a recent survey conducted among insulation contractors, several reported an increase in virtual inspections. Some jurisdictions even halted inspections all together for a period, and when they resumed, they were virtual. The question is, will the trend remain with the building industry in the future?


The Future May Be Virtual, Too

While no one can predict the future, virtual inspections may be here to stay. The reasons include the time-saving ability for inspectors, pent-up demand in jurisdictions that shuttered construction just as some inspections were due, and the continued concern about the health and safety of workers during the pandemic.

Prior to the inspection, building inspectors typically give contractors the parameters for the inspection, which can include having access to a Wi-Fi connection, being able to conduct the virtual tour uninterrupted (so no ringing of the cell phone), and having live video (no still pictures). Contractors also must be able to answer questions about the areas undergoing inspection, and if problems are found, additional inspections may be required to ensure that they have been corrected.


Have Experience with A Virtual Inspection?

While it appears that more jurisdictions are conducting virtual inspections, it’s difficult to know how prevalent they are, whether or not they’re completely replacing in-person inspections, or what opinions there are regarding this new option. If your jurisdiction is currently conducting virtual inspections, drop a comment below to let us know how the process is working and whether you foresee virtual inspections continuing in the future.




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