Throughout the life of a construction project, building inspections are required at several different stages, ensuring code compliance is met throughout the entire process; the larger or more complex the project is, such as a hospital or a condominium, the more inspections there can be. When municipalities experience a shortage of staff or an increase in the number of projects requiring inspections, it has the potential to delay projects while waiting for the green light to proceed.
Chris Peck, Chief Building Official for the city of St. Thomas, recently found his team facing such a scenario, due to a combination of staff vacancies and increased construction activity in the municipality.
“I’d lost a staff member, our numbers were through the roof, our services levels were going down. We were struggling to keep up, and then we lost that person; then it just became untenable.”
Rather than allowing the situation to spiral too far out of control, Peck turned to RSM Building Consultants for assistance. RSM have been providing on-demand field inspectors to sites all across Ontario for the past 10 years, quickly filling in the gaps like the ones St. Thomas was experiencing. RSM president Gerald Moore had become known to Peck through their mutual involvement with Ontario Building Officials Association and was not only aware of the services they provide, but of their reputation for efficiency and excellence as well.
“Throughout the years I’ve been aware of what Gerald’s doing, and what he’s doing now really fit in with the needs that I had. He’s the guy I turned to,” says Peck. “When we can’t deal with the workload with the personnel we have on staff, we turn to Gerald, whether through helping out with plan review or building inspections; that’s the assistance that he provides.”
So how is RSM able to step in so quickly to assist when municipalities are overwhelmed? It’s due to the relationships they’ve cultivated with field inspectors all across Ontario who have retired from their full-time roles but are happy to bring their extensive inspection experience to projects on an as-needed basis. And because of their knowledge with the Ontario Building Code and the inspection process, their learning curve on the job site is minimal, keeping projects running smoothly, identifying any compliance issues that may arise before they become problematic.
“Knowing Gerald and his modus operandi of employing experienced building officials…they were the team we needed to help out. They can onboard very quickly because we’re usually dealing with an experienced inspector. We don’t have to teach them how to inspect, we just have to teach them how to do it the St. Thomas way.”
While the goal is always to maintain adequate staffing, Peck is confident in RSM’s ability to hit the ground running when experiencing gaps in staffing or when high volumes of construction hit.
“They can very quickly build a trust and rapport with the builders out there; I am comfortable with who’s coming in knowing that they’ve been doing this job for many years; they have the experience, and the onboarding is very short. I’ve had a couple calls from the builders saying how much they’ve enjoyed having the RSM inspectors there.”
One of the unexpected benefits of having an RSM inspector working directly with a municipality is that there’s an opportunity for them to act as a mentor for those still adding to their inspection experience. Peck recalls a time when RSM inspector Paul Hillenaar provided not only his inspection services, but took on a mentorship role for a new recruit.
“Paul’s been great...our recent hire just started, and he’s been helping out with shadowing my junior inspector to help train him, along with the (inspection) job he’s doing.”
Municipalities trust RSM Building Consultants to step in with experienced inspectors who can provide on-demand support whenever the need arises, knowing their inspectors are capable of working independently or as part of their existing team.
“They’re pretty much our go-to consultant,” confirms Peck. “Their can-do attitude is one of the big things.”
Learn about building and field inspection services that RSM provides.