Developing Solid Professional Relationships are Key To Success
Over the years I’ve been very fortunate to work on some amazing projects. I’ve found over time that one of the keys to most of my successful projects has been my ability to develop strong, respectful relationships with building inspectors and code enforcement officials. Let’s face the facts here folks: If you can’t satisfy the building inspector and/or the fire chief, you’re not going to be successful. I too often see and hear other contractors fighting with building code officials instead of trying to work together toward a common goal. In every one of those situations the relationship sours and progress quickly stalls.
Do Your Homework: First let me start off by saying I’m not suggesting that you kiss up to an inspector. What I’m suggesting is that you learn as much as you can about the technical issues involved in your project ahead of time. Then as issues come up on the job you’ll be able to answer them or at least argue intelligently about the issue. If you’re not familiar with the code then I highly suggest you take some classes occasionally. The quickest way to get respect from building code officials is to show knowledge and understanding of the code issues. NEVER try to pretend you know the answer if in fact you have no idea. If you have questions I encourage you to ask a building code official as they are often more than happy to help explain the issue.
Not In Front Of The Owner: During inspections I highly recommend that you keep arguments to yourself unless you are alone with the building code official. If the owner or architect are present I recommend you wait until after the meeting to present an argument in defense of a violation. Code officials don’t really appreciate having you question them in front of owners.
Give and Take: My last piece of advice is likely the best: If you want to develop a good relationship with a building inspector you need to be willing to give and take. You can’t…..no….you won’t win every battle with the building inspector. The key is to learn to give and take with the inspector, give him something he wants and you’ll likely get relief on an issue that’s bothering you. Ultimately if you take the time to develop a strong relationship with your building inspectors they will make your life much easier. They will help you succeed and shine for your clients. Without their support you’ll be climbing one hill after the other while the competition passes you by.