Why Are Building Officials Giving My Contractor a Hard Time and Causing More Construction Problems?

When starting a commercial construction project, there’s so many things that could delay the timeline or put you over budget. From getting building supplies despite the current supply chain problem, navigating unforeseen costs, and passing inspections, you have enough to worry about. So why are building officials causing more building construction problems? Let’s explore exactly why building officials are involved in your commercial construction project and how to work with them to make your project conforms to safety and accessibility regulations.

What is a building official?

A building official is a general term for the folks responsible for upholding zoning laws and your state’s building code. Within a code compliance department, they usually have more specific roles, such as Building Commissioner, Building Inspector, and Local Inspector.

When it comes to new commercial construction projects specifically, their job is to inspect the construction sites regularly and make sure everything is upholding the building codes of the state and local area. Their primary focus is building safety, but they also administer certificates of occupancy, which determine the permitted occupancy for your building. Often, you’ll have building officials from the municipal and state levels checking your construction site and on existing buildings every couple of years.

In Virginia, there is an independent, private building department which inspects building plans and makes sure they meet building codes. This board, the Virginia Building and Code Officials Association, is up-to-date on building codes and has members across the state. Typically, the process for approval goes through zoning, public works, and then to reviewing plans by this board.

Some inspections may also go through the city governments. That means cities like Chesapeake, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach dictate their own inspection process.

Why are building officials involved in construction projects?

As you can imagine, building officials play an important role in construction projects–but they don’t design, renovate, or supervise any construction sites. Instead, their job is to give out the initial building permit and to conduct inspections once the building is done. They also conduct inspections for existing structures–and may ask you to shut down and make renovations if your commercial building isn’t up to code.

Building official and contractor at worksiteBuilding official and contractor at worksite

How to work with building officials

Navigating the world of state and local building codes, different building officials, and construction permits is best done with a trusted contractor at your side. While most contractors have experience working with building officials and ordinances, some are particularly skilled in this area. When looking for your contractor consider if they:

  • Work in one local area–and therefore are extremely familiar with local building codes and how code enforcements work
  • Stay up-to-date on any changes to building codes at the state and local gov level
  • Have passed inspections quickly in the past and how they dealt with permit delays in past projects
  • Are skilled at filling out permit applications — and get them approved quickly

Even with a skilled contractor at your side, unforeseen hiccups can arise because of building inspections and code requirement changes. When that is the case, it’s even more important to have a good contractor who is proactive and good at communicating so any issues can be solved as soon as possible.

Carlton Building Services in Hampton Roads Virginia

Carlton Building Services specializes in repairs, maintenance, renovations, remodelings and build-outs for a variety of clients in Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, and Chesapeake areas. We have years of experience handling projects in the retail, office, and healthcare space and would love to work with you on your next project!

To learn more about our services, check out past project highlights or contact Carlton Building Services to see how we can help with your next project.

JP Carlton

J.P. Carlton

J.P. Carlton is the founder of Carlton Building Services, a Hampton Roads-based construction company.