Canopy Special Inspections Made Clear

Posted by John Millet on December 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Canopy Special Inspections demanded by local codes officials are new and can be an expensive, time-consuming issue, delaying store openings. Special Inspections have been part of the International Building Code (IBC), the nation's building code, for years, but they have only become a growing issue for Canopies in the last few years, in more and more communities. 

This is the clearest definition of Special Inspections and their function within a construction project:

  1. The Building Permit is based a review of a project's plans. 
  2. Special Inspections are the quality control during construction, and
  3. The C of O (Certificate of Occupancy) affirms the project was completed per plan and properly inspected during construction. 

So, why is the AHJ now applying "Special Inspections" to Canopies, which they didn't before? There are likely several answers. 

  1. Code enforcement, generally speaking, is getting stricter across the country. 
  2. Recent weather extremes are focusing more attention to the design of all structures. 
  3. Each year we see pictures of Canopies that have had structural failures, usually during extreme weather. 

The decision to require "Special Inspections" is up to the entity that issues the Building Permit. A Canopy may require 1 or more of the following "Special Inspections."

  • Rebar/anchor rod placement - has to be performed before Canopy structural steel is being set.
  • Structural steel inspections - this involves inspection of structural bolt tightness. This should be inspected before decking and fascia are installed but may be inspected as Canopy is further along (depending on specific inspector requirements), but before a C of O is issued. 
  • Final "As-Built" Inspection - when a Canopy is finished but before a C of O is issued.
  • Fire suppression system. 

What is involved in each of these inspections?

  • Rebar/anchor bolts inspection is performed by 3rd Party inspector who confirms they match the P.E. stamped footing detail.
  • Structural bolt tightness is fairly easy "turn of the nut test" performed by 3rd Party inspector; many also check splice plate connections and welds.
  • Final "As-Built" Inspection is being required in more and more communities. This inspection typically is done by a 3rd Party inspection agency that turns in a report to the P.E. of Record for the final affidavit to receive C of O. 
  • Fire suppression testing - you know about this from experience over the years. 

How do you know if one of these tests is required? It is the responsibility of the person who requests the building permit to ask and determine what - if any - special inspections will be required of the project to obtain a C.O.O.  Special Inspection Requirements:

  • Owner's role - to provide and pay for the inspections. 
  • Contractor's role - project quality control and inspection notification when components needing to be inspected are ready. 
  • Inspector's role - implements inspection for contractor and reviews and submits reports to building official and P.E. of Record. 

If faced with Special Inspections that you did not anticipate, are there face-saving, time-saving or cost-saving ways to short-circuit these requirements? Not really! It is best to determine from the person who drew the building permit early on in the project what inspection needs will be required so no one will be surprised in the end.

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