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What is Structural Observation?
Structural Observation (CBC 1704.6) is defined as the visual observation of the structural system by a registered design professional for the general conformance to the approved construction documents. Observations are usually performed by the Structural Engineer of Record (SER) or another licensed engineer approved by SER.

What is Special Inspection?
Special Inspection (Deputy Inspection) (CBC 1704.2) is defined as inspection of construction requiring the expertise of an approved special inspector in order to ensure compliance with the building code and all approved documents. Special Inspections are performed by third party private entities licensed in the work that they are inspecting. These inspections do not waive inspections required by local, state or federal entities.

Why does section 1704.2 of the building code say:
".. the owner or the owner's authorized agent, other than the contractor, shall employ one or more approved agencies to provide special inspections ..."
The reasoning behind this statement is to make sure that the Special Inspectors owe their allegiance to the owner and not the contractor. For example a special inspector that points out shortcomings of work already completed requiring additional time and expense to fix, might not be rehired by that contractor on their next job.

Shall I use a Special Inspector recommended by my contractor?
For reasons explained above this practice is not recommended. You can find Special Inspectors in your area by searching online with keywords "deputy special inspector". Note that most municipalities require the deputy inspector to be licensed and approved in the cities that they perform their work.

At what stages or portions of my project do I need Special Inpsection and Structural Observation?
The approved plans have all the code mandated stages, portions as well as additional requirements listed and this is where at two locations the owner or the owner’s representative sign their name. One is to declare the Structural Observer and the other one is for the owner’s recognition for his or her obligation to ensure that the construction complies with the approved permitted plans, documents and other requirements.

What are some of the deficiencies discovered during past Structural Observations? (Click on images)


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