Structural Observation vs. Special Inspection

What is the difference between structural observations and special inspections?  At times engineers use these terms interchangeably, but there are specific instances where structural observations are appropriate, or more detailed special inspections may need to be specified.

In July 2018 SE University session, Dave K. Adams, SE, from BWE, presented Project Quality and Inspection Requirements.  Dave reviewed the building department’s role in project quality standards, identified specifications for durable materials, and covered the requirements for structural observations and special inspections.  He specifically addressed the difference between the two terms in a follow up question at the end of the session.  Watch this short video to hear Dave’s explanation.

Structural observations and special inspections are required by the code and can be found in IBC 2015 Sections 1704.6 and 1704.2, respectively, and depend on the building’s design category, the risk category and design wind speed.  Observations or inspections should be delineated clearly before construction to include the requirements, responsible parties, and frequency to ensure the building is code compliant.

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