The Best Jobs in the Construction Industry as an Independent Contractor – Becoming a Building Inspector

The construction industry can be competitive. Everyone is either trying to be an electrician, plumber, crane operator, project manager, or a host of other roles. However, most folks seem to disregard the position of “building inspector.”

The U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook stated that the 2019 median pay of the building inspector role was $60,710 per annum (about $29.19/hour). 

What Is a Building Inspector? 

Construction or building inspectors are the individuals who check and ensure that any construction meets safety standards and structural quality standards. They do this by checking if the building is compliant with contract specifications, building codes, and zoning regulations. 

Before erecting a structure, a builder has to apply for a building permit from the city authorities. Once the building permit is issued, an inspector or a set of inspectors is detailed to monitor the construction’s progress from the foundation laying, soil strength, drainage, plumbing, electrical installations, the roofing, and every other feature of the structure. These inspectors will usually come over to inspect the construction site intermittently or at the end of each construction phase. 

Each phase is monitored to ensure that the builders are keeping to the agreed building standards, and in case of any discrepancy, they must inform the building supervisor. 

Suppose the inspectors ascertain that the building supervisor is deliberately ignoring building codes or refuses to fix the issues they have pointed out. In that case, they can order for a halt in construction till all concerns are resolved. 

Builders looking to remodel or renovate an older building also need a building permit. An inspector will also monitor the progress of the remodeling to ensure no building codes are broken. 

Some inspectors end up specializing in one field. They either become general building inspectors or focus on one phase of the construction process, such as electrical inspectors or plumbing inspectors. 

What are the Educational and Training Requirements for a Building Inspector? 

A building and construction inspector needs to have a high school diploma. They also need some years of experience and an apprenticeship in construction. Most local councils, states, and federal governments will ask that the inspector have a license or certification before they are allowed to practice in the country. They might also require the inspectors to pass a civil service exam. One needs at least three years of active construction experience before attempting these exams. 

The International Code Council’s (ICC) exams are one of those exams that can help get a job as a building inspector. To pass these exams in one try, you will likely need an ICC prep course detailed and expansive enough to cover all the topics.  

A college course in architecture or civil engineering can also be an advantage. These courses cover physics, stress analysis, project management, and construction technology that can come in handy while you’re on the field. 

However, the truth is that nothing beats experience. The best training an inspector can get is by racking as many inspections under her or his belt. Through working alongside an experienced inspector and inspecting different types of buildings, the inspector learns about regulations, codes, record keeping, inspection techniques, managing pressure from clients and colleagues, and how to report the results of their work. 

Final Thoughts

Safety is always an essential consideration during construction, so the demand for construction and building inspectors will probably remain stable for a long time. While the salaries might vary depending on the location, the average pay per annum is still way better than most other occupations.