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
The Planning Department this week launched a new internet service
-- 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,”
Inspectors also come in an hour early to set the schedules, McCormick
“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."