By Nate Menuez, PE

Moving a project into construction can be daunting for the entire design team. Construction can start fast with many details to consider and little time to do it. Often, one important detail gets overlooked by the design team as a project moves into construction. But with the correct Structural Quality Control in place – and an understanding of what’s required during construction – design teams can avoid headaches as the building progresses.

Three Categories of Structural Quality Control

Structural Quality Control can be broken down into the following three categories:

  • Inspection by the local building official
  • Structural observations
  • Structural special inspections

These three terms are commonly used interchangeably but do not mean the same thing. All three are very important to the success of the project and non-redundant.

Let’s define each category:

  1. Inspection by the Local Building Official will be provided at various intervals during the project. These inspections are general in nature and are usually related to the foundations, floors, slabs, framing, and other non-structural components. The building official’s inspections enforce the local building code and verify the overall compliance of the completed work. They are not detailed inspections.
  1. Structural Observations performed by the Registered Design Professional (RDP) or appointed; qualified designee involves general review at appropriate intervals during construction. The objective is to periodically monitor the quality of the contractor’s work and determine if the work is proceeding in accordance with the contract documents. Structural observation does not involve detailed inspections or continuous project reviews. Structural Observations are an International Buildings Code (IBC) code-mandated requirement, although the IBC does allow exceptions when Structural Observations can be excluded. Note, Structural Observations do not include or waive the responsibility for Structural Special Inspections required by the IBC.
  2. Structural Special Inspections are an IBC code-mandated review of the project’s specific structural connections, elements, and systems. The Structural Special Inspector can be any qualified person with the knowledge, expertise, or required certification to ensure the constructed items conform with the construction documents. The project’s RDP will indicate which structural special inspections are required, using the IBC as a guideline, with a Statement of Special Inspections (the Statement of Special Inspections can be provided on the construction documents or as a separate document).

So what Structural Quality Control aspects are actually required for your next project?” Here are some guidelines that will help you understand the differences.