IAS accredited special inspection agencies helping to protect Clark County, Nevada
Clark County, Nev., is home of the world-famous Las Vegas Strip. Clark is the nation’s 13th-largest county in the U.S. and provides extensive regional services to more than 2.3 million citizens and more than 45.6 million visitors a year. The Clark County Building Department relies on International Accreditation Service (IAS) accredited special inspection agencies to help ensure a high level of building safety for everyone that visits, lives and works in the county. “The Clark County process for approving special inspections is a very robust program. We want to make sure the agencies going out in the field to represent us are qualified. They are an extension of us,” said Sam Palmer, assistant director, Department of Building and Fire Prevention, Clark County.
Clark County uses an amended version of the International Building Code (IBC), published by the International Code Council, to ensure the construction of safe buildings. Special inspection is defined in the IBC as “the inspection of construction requiring the expertise of an approved special inspector in order to ensure compliance with the code and the approved construction documents.”
Chapter 17 of the IBC includes 16 major categories of mandatory special inspections that have critical life-safety and structural-safety roles, including:
- Inspection of fabricators
- Concrete construction
- Masonry construction
- Steel construction
- Wood construction
- Pile foundations
- Smoke control
- Wind requirements
- Pier foundations
- Vertical masonry elements
- Sprayed fire-resistant materials
- Mastic and intumescent fire-resistant coatings
- Exterior insulation and finish systems
- Special cases
- Seismic requirements
The IAS Special Inspection Agency Accreditation Program was developed to help building departments implement the special inspection requirements mandated in Chapter 17 of the IBC. “When we talk about special inspections, IAS almost mirrors the steps in the IBC Chapter 17,” said Palmer. “The program itself follows all of the main items that we need that show how the firm operates, who are the main players, what are their qualifications, what are their certifications, etc. IAS follows each step all the way down in a very precise and qualified format. That’s one of the main reasons we like the IAS program.”
Special inspectors are hired by the owner, engineer or architect of record, and not the contractor. While special inspectors are not employed by the building department, the building official is responsible to approve special inspector qualifications and verify that mandatory special inspections are being performed.
Chapter 17 of the IBC provides specific requirements for approving agencies performing special inspections. The special inspection agency must be independent of the contractor responsible for the work being inspected. The agency shall have adequate equipment to perform required tests and the equipment shall be periodically calibrated. The agency shall employ experienced personnel educated in conducting, supervising and evaluating tests and special inspections. The IBC includes additional requirements related to inspection reports, labeling, follow-up inspections, etc.
Building departments are often understaffed with many duties, both technical and administrative, making it difficult if not impossible to manage a special inspection program. The lack of staff and the absence of an administrative framework to enforce special inspection compliance are big obstacles. IAS developed the Special Inspection Agency Accreditation Program to help building departments overcome these obstacles. “The IBC basically requires you to have special inspections,” said Palmer. “The IAS special inspection program helps you as a building department to manage the process and ensure the projects being built in your community are built safe and sound.”
The IAS Special Inspection Agency Accreditation Program is a trusted method being used by building departments to document the qualifications of special inspection agencies and the special inspectors that serve their jurisdiction. IAS also provides accreditation for special inspection agencies recognizing the requirements of various local jurisdictions as adopted in the New York City Building Code, Philadelphia Building Code, Southern Nevada Building Code and others. IAS assesses special inspection agencies based on the requirements in IBC Chapter 17 as adopted by the states and other large jurisdictions. Getting accredited involves an assessment of the agency’s inspection procedures, the competence of its inspection staff, and its reporting procedures. Every accredited agency is given an Accreditation Certificate and Scope document that lists the specific inspections the agency to accredited to conduct. These documents, placed on the IAS website, serve as the basis for approvals from the building department.
For more information about the IAS Special Inspection Agency Accreditation Program, review the IAS Special Inspection Agency brochure.