Residential Building Inspections Guide

This article is designed as a guide to the residential Building Inspections. The inspections included in this article based on the minimum requirements for the building codes

Each inspector will evolve their style and process when managing inspections.

The article’s approach may vary from what you’ve been instructed in your jurisdiction; each jurisdiction is distinctive to its procedures and processes.

The hope is that this article can be helpful in some way and be an additional tool to use in your development. 

An additional benefit is Permit Contractor’s, Tech’s, Vocational Trainees, Home Owners, even seasoned inspectors, and Building Officials requiring refurbishing certain inspections.

Who does Perform the building inspection ?

A building inspection is an inspection done by a building inspector, a person selected by either a township, city, or county.

 An inspector, is generally certified in one or more trade, authorized to make a professional judgment about even if a building meets the minimum building code requirements.

A building inspector verifies either as a commercial or residential building inspector, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical inspector, or another profession-focused inspector who may inspect structures at various completion stages. 

Related: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Building Permit Process.

Residential Building inspections step by step

Under-ground plumbing inspection

Residential Building-Underground plumbing
Underground plumbing prior pouring concrete

Under-ground plumbing is the first required inspection for a single-family dwelling/residence. If the house constructed on a slab on grade, the underground inspection will be required prior footing and slab inspection.

If the house on a raised floor, the underground inspection can be done after pouring the concrete footing because the plumbing will run above ground. Building inspector will verify the following,

  • Underground building drain, building sewer lines, water lines are pressurized and under water test.
  • Check pipes fitting and fittings for leaks.
  • Ensure that the main drain lines should be properly sized for house fixtures.
  • Identify locations of building cleanouts.
  • Protect piping from masonry penetrations and  corrosion at concrete.

Footing inspection

Concrete footings

This is the next inspection required after the underground inspections. All the components of footing should be in place, and plumbing and electrical trenches must be covered.

Footings are one of the premiers emphasized on concrete elements as it brings the whole building on it. Footings must inspect rigorously to ensure that the bearing surface is satisfactory to support the weight over it.

Footing inspections shall be made after all rebar steel , anchor bolts, holdowns in place and secured and before any concrete has been poured. Approved drawing shall be on the job-site for the inspector to verify the following,

  • Depth and width of the footing.
  • size and count of steel rebars.
  • Holdowns and anchor bolts locations.
  • property lines setbacks.

Slab inspection

A slab inspection can be done with footing inspection if the contractor decided to pour the concrete monolithically (Pour footing and slab at the same time) or it can be done after the footing being poured.

At the slab inspection, expect the following to be ready before calling for inspection,

  • Check the level of the prepared site and the thickness of the floor slab before laying the mesh or steel rebars
  • Setting out for the formwork and other introductory works (e.g., the vapor barrier, steel reinforcement, and the boxing, etc.)

Rough MEP inspections

The rough-in can be involved in the inspection, depending on the home and size materials.

Rough-in inspections should be made when all building framing and parts of the plumbing, electrical, fire protection, or HVAC systems that will hide from view in the finished building have a place.

Still, before any ceiling finish or wall or construction insulation installs.

Residential Building -Rough MEP

Rough plumbing inspection

A plumbing rough-in means that all drain pipes and water supply have been run over-bored holes in the studs and that all pipe links have been made. But no faucets, sinks, or other fixtures and end elements are even now installed at this phase.

  • The water supply system shall be pressure tested.
  • Drain, waste, vent shall be pressured tested.
  • Gas lines test.
  • Protect piping from nail/screws damage by using safety plates.
  • strapping vents, drain and water lines.
  • Insulate hot water lines.

Rough electrical inspection

All wiring, electric boxes, and channels settled within ceilings, walls have been installed and done before covering and along with or before Service inspection. But the outlets, light switches, lights, and other devices are not attached—inspection of that work happens during the final building inspection.

  • Location of the outlet boxes and spacing ( kitchen, bathroom , bedroom, living room, hallway, etc.)
  • Protect wires from nail/screws damage by using safety plates.
  • branch circuits requirements for different rooms and appliances.

Rough Mechanical inspection

A rough-in inspection is an inspection in which all parts of the mechanical system such as HVAC, kitchen exhaust, bathroom exhaust which eventually be concealed in the building structure.

The inspection must be made before any of the systems is closed up or hidden from view. To gain approval, the mechanical systems must pass the required rough-in tests.

  • Accurately support ducts and mechanical equipment.
  • Mechanical ducts shall be sealed with permitted sealants (UL listed tape).

Framing inspection

Rough Framing Inspection

The framing inspection is performed after all plumbing, electrical, and mechanical rough-in has been inspected, and all chimneys, ducts, shear walls, and hold-downs walls install, and framing is complete.

The framing inspection helps you make sure that there are no vital red flags with some of the soon to be “covered” components and systems installed during your home’s construction.

Exterior and Interior walls might construct conforming to the kind of material used as described in the state building code.

  • Carry on with the inspection all over each room of the home, checking the electrical, framing, fuel gas, mechanical, and plumbing.
  • Inspect that all of the framing hardware used for top plate breaks and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing holes and notches have proper protection.
  • Fix and repair the framing damage caused by plumbing, electrical, mechanical components.
  • Confirm that correct hardware is used for all applications.

Roofing inspection

roof sheathing inspection

The sheathing is installed when the roof structure is constructed. The materials used for sheathing are generally plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), or composite. Defined roof styles attribute narrow but thick tongue-and-groove boards.

When installed, the rest of the roofing follows the outer roof and accessories such as flashing and ridge caps, the waterproofing material (felts). Foam insulation can be installed on the bottom of the sheathing.

Insulation inspection

House Insulation

Every jurisdiction usually requires an insulation inspection as an element of the building inspection process. It occurs typically at rough-in before the drywall and before the city inspectors have accomplished it.

The usual suggested R-value for external walls is R-13 to R-23 and R-30 to R-38 for ceiling. R-value differs depending on the climate zone of your house. While these are the essential to insulate, you can also benefit from upgrading internal wall insulation.

Insulating the wall can help you dampen sound transfer, improve energy efficiency, and slow the fire spread.

  • Certify the installed insulation levels in a house meet the code conditions necessary before drywalling/wall covering.
  • Certify, there are no gaps or voids in the thermal parameter of the house.
  • The external wall will be insulated.
  • All the penetrations through the attic spaces and top plate should be filled.

Window inspection

Windows shall be installed after installing the roof or at least having the roof materials load on top of the house to make sure the house is settled. The building inspector will verify,

Drywall inspection

drywall screws
drywall screws inspection-code requirements

A drywall inspection is required to assess if drywall installation follows standard structural demands. Carrying out drywall inspection can help recognize and manage problems before add finishing touches to the construction or home.

Actual drywall installation can benefit fire resistance within the house as it helps restrain the spreading of fire and helps in safe departure during a misadventure.

For Drywall inspection checklist Read more.

Shower Pan/tub inspection (hot mop)

shower pan, Hot mop

There are several ways a shower pan leak is possibly the most costly. It makes coherence to find if the leak you are getting from your shower stall is your pan.

Do this shower pan test on a day when you can be there for the whole duration of the test. An easy and quick inspection, the building inspector will make sure the shower pan or tub is holding water and there are no cracks or leaks.

Exterior lath

Exterior Lath Inspection

An exterior lath is installed by a weather-resistant black paper sheet to save the wood framing from wetness. Any decors are also waterproofed, and your Contractor makes definite that every wood member is carefully protected.

The exterior lath installation might be instantly followed within 7 days with cement or other authorized building finish wall materials.

  1. WEATHER PROTECTION:  All penetrations must be clogged or waterproofed, and all paper torn or damaged shall be replaced with new or sealed as needed, including being free from holes and breaks.
  2. Lath and lath attachments shall be corrosion-resistant materials and shall be attached with 1-1/2″ long, 11 gage nails having a 7/16″ head. Alternatively, 7/8″, 16 gage staples, spaced not more than 6″ can be used.
  3. Weep screeds shall be a minimum of 0.019″ (No. 26 galvanized) and corrosion-resistant or plastic. They shall have a minimum vertical attachment flange of 3-1/2″, which shall be provided at or below the foundation plate line on external stud walls.

Final building inspection

Before the local jurisdiction issues the certificate of occupancy (allow the homeowner to move in to the new house) , a final inspection is a must.

The final inspection will occur after all mechanical equipment, Plumbing fixtures, outlets and lights fixtures installed. The building inspector at the final inspection will

  • Test all GFCI electrical outlets are working properly.
  • No trip hazards at flooring and thresholds.
  • Test smoke alarm detectors and carbon monoxide.
  • verify all door and windows hardware.
  • check egress in bedrooms.
  • Plumbing fixtures to verify leaks.
  • water heater working.
  • HVAC system working properly.

Most of the new construction will require additional final inspections which will involve other department such as Fire department, public works, and planning department.

Building inspections in summary

  • Under-ground plumbing inspection.
  • Under-ground electrical inspection.
  • Footing inspection.
  • Slab inspection.
  • Rough MEP inspection.
  • Framing inspection.
  • Roof sheathing inspection.
  • Insulation inspection.
  • Window inspection.
  • Drywall inspection.
  • Interior lath.
  • Shower pan test.
  • Exterior lath.
  • Final inspection.

2 thoughts on “Residential Building Inspections Guide”

  1. I’m trying to get a building made, but I want to make sure that it’s actually built right. It makes sense that I would want to get a professional to help me out with this. I can see how proper inspection could ensure that things work out properly.

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