Accreditation is the solution for building departments enforcing special inspections
Chapter 17 of the International Building Code (IBC) requires special inspections of materials, fabrication, installation, erection or placement of components, and connections requiring “special expertise”. Provisions for inspection of structural components were contained in the first edition of the Uniform Building Code (UBC) printed in 1927. The term “special inspections” first appeared in the 1961 edition of the UBC. The National Building Code (NBC) first introduced special inspections requirements in 1988. The IBC, first published in 2000, merged the UBC and NBC special inspections provisions into Chapter 17.
Under the IBC, final authority for recognition of special inspections rests with the building official having jurisdiction. Because most building departments do not envisage to keep onboard a team of staff members with expertise required by the building code to perform these types of inspections and attestation of results, they have the other option to authorize with a qualification and relevant experience requirement for inspectors employed by special inspection agencies. In order to safeguard the interest and remain impartial, these agencies are authorized by the building’s owner or their authorized representative to perform assigned tasks. To ensure that these agencies are continuously demonstrating adequate expertise to perform the inspections and that the quality of materials and workmanship meets the requirements in approved plans which have been vetted to comply to the provisions of the IBC, building departments have the option to ask for accreditation from the International Accreditation Service (IAS).
IAS is a nonprofit subsidiary of the International Code Council (ICC) and a globally recognized accreditation body.
How does it work?
The International Accreditation Service provides building departments with a comprehensive and trustworthy accreditation program to ensure special inspection agencies are continuously evaluated for the assigned responsibilities and attested for technical competence.
The IAS team assesses the special inspection agencies to ensure they demonstrate compliance with the requirements in Chapter 17 of the IBC with applicable local amendments, if any.
Each special inspection agency is assessed based on its specific field of expertise (structural steel, concrete, wooden structure, wall panels, etc.).
Building departments have an opportunity to verify accreditation status of special inspection agencies on a real-time basis, and initiate action for incidents of disqualification or misrepresentation.
Continual review the agency’s management system documentation and assessment of technical competence of personnel is done through periodic on-site surveillance assessments. This also includes witnessing special inspectors at site, reviewing of reports from past inspections, interviewing personnel, and verification of adequacy of resources in general.
Check qualification with the IAS Certificate of Accreditation:
Building departments can verify what areas an agency has been accredited to inspect by reviewing the agencies Scope of Accreditation on the IAS website.
Benefits of the IAS program:
There are several ways that building departments can benefit by using the IAS Special Inspection Agency Accreditation Program:
- Fulfills IBC Chapter 17 mandatory requirements
- IAS periodically assesses the competence of special inspection agency inspectors and technicians performing special inspections
- Provides the building official with evidence needed to approve special inspection agencies
- Effective utilization of the building department’s resources
- Standardizes assessments
- Minimizes the financial impact on building department budget
- IAS program is transparent and subject to code official oversight through the IAS Accreditation Committee
- Available to all building departments and ICC chapters at no cost
For more information about how your building department can begin using special inspection agency accreditation to meet building code requirements, contact IAS at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-866-427-4422.