COVID-19 Brings Changes to the Way Building Permits are Carried Out

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COVID-19 Brings Changes to the Way Building Permits are Carried Out

COVID-19 building permits

The COVID-19 situation we've been dealt in 2020 has altered the way life is carried out. One impact is on the way the building permits are handled here in the Sacramento region.

The Process

When you go about changing out your home HVAC system, you have to get a building permit.  This is done in order to get a second set of eyes on the finished project. It serves to verify it was installed according to the California building code.  An inspector typically comes out to your house and walks through the job. He or she checks out the outdoor air conditioner, the electrical panel, the indoor furnace or air handler, and the ductwork in the attic.  I can’t say every inspector does this every time, but it is their prerogative to inspect the job the way they see fit.

But recently, with the onset of COVID-19, the building department shut down entirely during the first few months of the pandemic. They wouldn’t issue our building permits or come out to inspect them.  I can understand the change during the first few months of it all.  But now that society approaches this whole thing in a more informed way, you would think that wearing a mask, gloves, and any other form of personal protective equipment would suffice in making one feel safe in people’s homes so the inspectors can do their job.

We’re Essential Workers

I get it though. Some people aren’t the cleanest, and maintaining a safe environment for other people to come into isn’t a priority.  But, we as essential workers are coming out to homes across the Sacramento area to repair or replace heating and cooling systems.  Doesn’t it seem necessary and almost mandatory that the building inspectors come out to complete their simple 15-minute inspection, as part of completing the building permit process?

In most jurisdictions in our area, the answer is apparently, no.  Now when jobs are done, the inspector won’t come out to verify the safety of the installation for the homeowner.  The company that does the installation must send the installer back out to the house. They must carry around their cell phone to the points of inspection so the inspector can virtually carry out the inspection.  The installer puts the inspector on video phone and points the camera at the areas the inspector tells them to.

The Building Code

California Building Code addresses this in Section 110.5. It is the responsibility of the homeowner or their duly authorized agent to provide the “means and access for the inspection of the work required in the building code.” Previously, that meant as much as providing the ladder to access the attic. Some inspectors don’t even carry ladders with them these days.  So we have to provide them with one.  But that’s a whole other conversation.  This now translates to the contractor being required to return to the house to walk around the home at the direction of the inspector via video “means and access.”

Responsibility for Building Permits

Well, you gotta love it!  Being a contractor and running a business is one of the hardest things I’ve done.  Don’t get me wrong, Melissa, and I love doing it because it’s challenging and rewarding.  This is just another way we have had to adapt to the ever-changing environment that surrounds us.  Some building jurisdictions have completely shut down the permitting and inspections process altogether.  Some have rearranged the way they carry out the process.

Thanks for letting me share another aspect of what we do here at Fox Family Heating and Air.  It is a pleasure to serve you and carry out the process of improving your home comfort.  We’ll see you on the next blog.

Fox Family Heating & Air serves Sacramento, Rancho Cordova, and all of Northern California. If you’re looking to schedule HVAC service in these areas, give us a call!

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