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Challenges and Solutions in New Construction Inspections Post-Pandemic

Challenges and Solutions in New Construction Inspections Post-Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on nearly every industry, and new construction is no exception. As we move into the post-pandemic period, homebuilders and home inspectors alike are facing new challenges in ensuring quality and safety in new homes. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the key issues and potential solutions when it comes to new construction inspection in the current environment.

Implementing Safety Protocols on Construction Sites

One of the biggest changes for the construction industry has been the need to implement stringent safety protocols to prevent virus transmission on job sites. While many basic safety measures were already in place pre-pandemic, COVID-19 has led to enhanced requirements around sanitization, personal protective equipment (PPE), and social distancing.

For home inspectors visiting new construction sites, it’s crucial to follow all guidelines put in place by builders. This includes wearing masks, maintaining 6 feet of distance from other workers, and using hand sanitizer frequently when touching surfaces like doorknobs or railings. Some sites may require additional PPE beyond a standard mask.

Inspectors should coordinate with builders ahead of visits to understand what safety protocols they expect inspectors to comply with. This helps keep both construction teams and inspectors safe and healthy.

Adapting Inspection Practices for Social Distancing

Maintaining social distancing during inspections presents some unique challenges. Homes under construction are hands-on environments, where inspectors need to thoroughly assess finishes, systems, and more up close.

Some solutions for inspections include:

  • Scheduling inspection visits when fewer workers are on site to make distancing easier.
  • Using grabber tools to avoid touching surfaces like fuse boxes or attic hatches.
  • Asking builders to operate systems like HVAC units, garbage disposals, etc. rather than doing it directly.
  • Using photos or videos to document issues rather than gathering in groups around an area.
  • Conducting some portions of inspections virtually via video calls with builders to limit time on site.

Adaptability and open communication with builders is key to figuring out inspection approaches that allow inspectors to do their jobs fully while adhering to social distancing.

Managing Inspection Logistics with Ongoing Disruptions

The pandemic has led to many unexpected schedule changes and delays in construction. Shortages of materials and workers have impacted timelines, while periodic COVID-19 outbreaks among construction crews have brought sites to a halt.

For inspectors, this can mean greater uncertainty around inspection timelines and logistics. It’s important to maintain close contact with builders to stay on top of the most up-to-date schedules and be flexible when timelines shift. Having contingency plans is advisable as well.

Technology can help streamline logistics under unpredictable circumstances. Cloud-based scheduling apps allow inspectors and builders to efficiently manage appointments and make changes on the fly. Photo and video sharing can also help inspectors monitor progress remotely if an in-person visit gets cancelled last minute.

The post-pandemic construction environment requires enhanced adaptability, but using technology to stay linked in with builders can help smooth out inspection logistics.

Leveraging Digital Tools for Remote Viewing

Remote inspection capabilities became crucial during the peak of the pandemic and will continue offering benefits even as in-person work resumes. Digital tools allow inspectors to perform some portions of an inspection virtually when being on-site is difficult or unsafe.

For example, drone cameras can capture roof conditions, site grading issues, and exterior material defects without an inspector needing to climb ladders or traverse the entire property. Video calls allow builders to “walk through” homes with inspectors and get real-time feedback on issues. And smart home tech like WiFi-enabled cameras can give inspectors interior views during a virtual consultation.

Augmenting in-person inspections with remote capabilities provides more flexibility and safety. And over time, the data collected via digital tools can be used to enhance inspection training and improve quality assurance. This emerging technology will be an asset for home inspections both during COVID-19 recovery and beyond.

Addressing Labor Shortages With Recruitment and Training

One consequence of the pandemic has been a shortage of skilled construction workers, which slows down project timelines. When homes aren’t finished on schedule, it can limit opportunities for inspectors to check properties at key phases of the build.

Builders have been ramping up recruitment and exploring new training partnerships to boost their workforce. For inspection firms, expanding staff resources can also help meet demand under constrained labor conditions.

Inspectors should look at strategies like:

  • Offering competitive pay, benefits, and flexible policies to attract talented staff.
  • Partnering with trade schools or apprenticeship programs to recruit newcomers to the field.
  • Providing paid training and shadowing for new hires to expand skills.
  • Using technology like virtual reality simulators to enhance training around safety protocols or inspection technical skills.
  • Promoting a welcoming culture for people of all backgrounds to consider inspection careers.

A larger pool of qualified inspectors will help the industry keep up with growth in residential construction in today’s market.

Maintaining Quality Standards Under Rapid Construction

Demand for new homes has surged during the pandemic, outpacing supply in many markets. While strong demand is positive, fast-paced construction can sometimes come at the expense of quality if adequate inspections aren’t performed.

Builders need to take care to follow codes and maintain quality benchmarks, even under tight timelines. And inspectors serve an important watchdog role, helping identify any slipups that could impact homeowner safety or satisfaction.

Thorough inspections at all phases of construction are essential. Inspectors should also feel empowered to speak up if they notice a pattern of quality issues resulting from rushed timelines. Builders who want success over the long-term will recognize and appreciate this feedback.

Home inspections support accountability. Ultimately, adherence to quality is what separates reputable builders from those who cut corners. Together, the construction and inspection industries can find the right balance between speed and quality for optimal outcomes.

Adopting New Technologies to Enhance Safety and Quality

The pandemic accelerated existing trends around adopting new construction technologies. Tech innovations that enable automation, precision, and efficiency are especially valuable currently.

Some examples include:

  • Pre-fabricated components assembled offsite to minimize on-site labor needs
  • 3D printing for faster production of construction materials
  • Virtual design simulations to test project plans and identify issues early on
  • Drones that scan topography or monitor construction progress
  • Wearable devices that track worker proximity and prevent unsafe crowding
  • Sensors that monitor environmental quality and ongoing safety

For inspectors, many of these technologies offer advantages like being able to assess workmanship of pre-fab components before installation. Or getting to view digital renderings of hidden structural elements like plumbing.

The possibilities are expanding rapidly when it comes to construction tech. Curiosity and openness to new solutions can help inspectors and builders alike maximize quality and safety.

Fostering Stronger Collaboration and Communication

The complexities of operating in the pandemic period underscore the importance of alignment between builders and inspectors. Keeping projects on track and upholding standards requires excellent communication and teamwork.

Inspectors should strive for positive, collaborative relationships with builders – grounded in a shared goal of creating great homes. Raising issues early and constructively, rather than waiting for final inspections, can help builders make corrections with minimal disruption. And inspectors must also appreciate the challenges builders face like material shortages or schedule changes.

With strong partnerships, the construction and inspection process can become more efficient and less adversarial for everyone involved. Post-pandemic recovery brings an opportunity to reset relationships and improve workflows between builders and inspectors for the future.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic led to sudden disruptions that have permanently shaped many industries – new home construction among them. As we move into the post-pandemic period, both builders and inspectors continue adapting to a changing environment.

By implementing thorough safety protocols, embracing new technologies, focusing on quality, and collaborating closely, the construction inspection process can emerge stronger than ever. Though the specific challenges of this era are unprecedented, the foundation of what matters – building safe, high-quality homes – remains unchanged. The construction inspection community has what it takes to meet this moment, and build a better future.

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