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Inspections Now Just a Click Away

By Jorge Casuso

January 5 -- Homeowners and contractors can now schedule building inspections on-line, the latest in a series of technological advances that will soon allow the City to issue permits over the net.

The Planning Department this week launched a new internet service -- http://www.smgov.net/planning/buildingsafety/einspections/ -- that allows inspections for permitted construction and remodel projects to be requested online.

“It’ a new computer age,” said Tim McCormick, head of the Building and Safety Division. “People want to do things on line.”

Online users can request an inspection and choose from a list of available dates after providing a valid contruction permit number and the address of the site, planning officials said.

They can also view a history of past inspections and verify that a requested inspection has been scheduled, officials said.

In the past, homeowners and contractors could apply for an inspection via email, McCormick said. But although they were given a date, they were not given a set time for the inspection.

With an inspection required for everything from repairing plumbing and replacing a water heater to laying a major new foundation and erecting steel frames, staff was inundated in the morning with calls on the scheduled day.

“We got about a hundred calls every morning wanting to know when the inspector was coming,” McCormick said. “Although they could schedule oline, they didn’t have a time.”

As a result, support staff would have to spend several hours sorting through the estimated 100 to 120 inspectuion orders scheduled each day, he said. “It’s been quite an operation.”

Under the new service, “the computer calls (the homeowners and contractors) back automatically and gives them the time,” McCormick said.

Inspectors also come in an hour early to set the schedules, McCormick said.

“It allows a contractor to talk to an inspector about what needs to be fixed,” he said.

As a result, the window of time an inspector can show up has narrowed from four to three hours, McCormick said.

The department has also been testing a system to issue permits online that is expected to go into efect February 1, McCormick said. The goal is to issue half of the approximately 2,500 permits issued each year online.

“We expect to do more than other cities on the internet,” he said. “It’s sustainable. It avoids having to travel to City Hall."




“It’s sustainable. It avoids having to travel to City Hall." Tim McCormick




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