5 On Your Side

Raleigh goes virtual with construction inspections

Posted April 27, 2020 11:17 a.m. EDT
Updated April 27, 2020 6:08 p.m. EDT

— Whether you're building a new home or remodeling, if work suddenly stopped, you'd be dealing with a mess.

Coronavirus forced Raleigh and other local municipalities to rethink the building-inspection process.

5 On Your Side was there as contractor Zach Fox used his phone and FaceTime to show an inspector the electrical and plumbing work done on a home renovation underway in Raleigh.

Inspecting homes virtually

At one point while checking electrical, the inspector told Fox he couldn't clearly see something in the ceiling, and asked if Fox could see if it was bonded.

Fox said, yes, it was.

Initially Fox, of 2SL Design Build, was a little concerned with the virtual inspection, but after finishing his first one, he's a fan.

"With them being able to do this virtual stuff, really changes the game and we can keep working, which is, I think, good for obviously us, the homeowners and the rest of the economy that we're trying to support," Fox said.

He added that if they couldn't do inspections, "we're stuck at this phase and you know, the homeowners just have a hole in the back of their house."

We also spoke with Joe Durham, Raleigh's Interim Director of Planning and Development.

"We can't do all of them that way, and ones (inspections) that are more complicated or ones that are involving significant health or safety issues, we don't do those," Durham said.

He says with limits in place, the risk of missing something is minimal.

Monica Laliberte asked about contractors who may not always follow the rules.

Durham said "that's always going to be an issue that's out there. But again, we think that the limited application provides the convenience, but also maintains the integrity of our inspection system."

About 100 virtual inspections happen each day, that's about 20 percent of those that are happening.

Durham says virtual inspections, in some instances, could become permanent.

Fox would like that.

"We obviously knocked it out a lot faster than the normal inspection would. So that was, that was good for just my time, for the day," Fox said.

The inspector told him everything looked good, and thanked Fox for running the camera.

"This was great, glad it worked out," said Fox.

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