Being grateful for inspections


Building a home of your own can be a challenge. 

One of the hardest parts is passing all of the inspections. There is plumbing, framing, insulation, electrical, and the list seems to go on and on. I have spent many hours poring over the different code books to make sure everything was right. But there always seems to be something I miss.

One of my friends who has retired from construction said his boss always had them leave something undone so the inspector would find it and not search for some nitty gritty item. I tried that, but the inspector found something small and missed the item I left undone.

I appreciated the inspectors, not because I enjoy knowing I have something more to fix, but because it helps me feel I am building everything right. But there was one thing that I had to redo that was strenuous to change, and I wondered if it was needed.

My new place is a shop with an apartment above. The stairs between floors are U-shaped with two landings between the three segments. Two of the three segments measured right on, but the bottom segment was a quarter inch low, both where it started from the ground level and where it connected on the first landing.

“You’re going to have to raise the whole stair segment a quarter inch,” the inspector said.

I didn’t complain. It was his job to find the errors and my job to fix them, but internally, I felt sick. I would have to cut the nails that connected the stairs to the walls on both sides of it, along with the ones tying it to the landing. He also wanted the board under the stairs at the bottom to be treated since it would rest on the cement. I didn’t know anywhere I could get a treated board that was a quarter inch thick.

After the inspector left, I got to work. I started cutting the nails with my reciprocating saw. Two friends had helped me build it, and it was solid. I went through three saw blades before it was loose from all sides. However, even when I was sure it was free, it wouldn’t move. Not only was it heavy for me to lift, but it was also binding against the two side walls. Taking the walls apart was not an option since they bore other structures.

After three days of working on it, it finally moved. Now I needed a board to slide under the lower end. I took the thinnest treated board I could find to a friend who planed it down for me. Then, while I lifted the stairs, my wife stuck the board under the lower part. I had put marks at the top to which I needed to raise it so I wouldn’t go over. I didn’t want to have to lower it again.

Once everything was in place, I put in a few screws to keep it from moving. I didn’t want to put in nails until it passed inspection. It did pass the next inspection, so I tightened everything down.

Sunday, as I talked to my two construction friends at church, I told them of the ordeal. They didn’t have the same opinion I had that inspectors were there to help me make the building better. 

“I think they actually train them on ways to annoy people,” one said.

I laughed. They both had been to Peru and visited Machu Picchu, so I asked, “Did either of you climb Machu Picchu Mountain?” They both said they did.

Machu Picchu Mountain is a tall mountain that overlooks the historic site. The path to the top is comprised of stairs carved into the rock. There is no standard for them. One stair will be 6 inches, and the next 18. I think some were even as much as 2 feet in height. Their height depended on the way the rock was on the side of the mountain.

“I’m sure those building the stairs on the mountain didn’t have inspectors telling them the stairs weren’t even,” I said.

One of my construction friends laughed. “Oh, I’m sure they had them. But when the inspectors said the stairs wouldn’t pass inspection, the builders probably just took them to the top of the mountain and sacrificed them.”

I laughed, but I’m still grateful to have someone who ensures I build it correctly.

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.