All new and remodeled projects in California require a final CalGreen inspection. This applies to both residential and commercial projects. There can be a significant impact on the project depending on who is required to perform the inspection.
Your local building department determines who is required to perform the CalGreen inspections. There are two possible inspector requirements. The first, and most common, is that the building department’s inspector includes the CalGreen inspections as part of his final close-out inspections.
The other possibility is that your building departments requires this be performed by an ICC Certified CalGreen Special Inspector. An ICC certified inspector has been specifically trained in the California Green Building Standards Code. The certification requires on-going training in order to be able to perform the inspections. Some jurisdictions require the ICC certified CalGreen inspector be approved and specifically listed in their area as a “special inspector”.
The Role of the CalGreen Special Inspector
The role of the CalGreen inspector is to verify that the CalGreen requirements that are indicated on the permit plans, have been implemented into the project. This involves reviewing the CalGreen Checklist for the project. The checklist is the guideline for the inspection. It details the items that are supposed to be complied with – and those that aren’t required.
Unfortunately many CalGreen Checklists are filled out by those with little training in the Green Building Standards Code, also known as CalGreen. In some cases every box on the checklist ends up getting checked and submitted for permit.
It is a very rare job that requires every item on the checklist. A knowledgeable CalGreen specialist will ensure only the required items are included in the project. It is critical that all non-required items are marked on the checklist as “not applicable” when submitted for permit. Failure to do so can result in some costly issues when the inspector shows up and notes items that were required by the checklist, but not installed. It can be a tough battle to argue after the fact that the item wasn’t really required.
Your CalGreen inspection can determine whether or not you are able to occupy your new home or building. Ensuring it goes smoothly is not difficult if the process is managed properly.
Contractor Records for CalGreen Inspection
There are a number of records that the contractor is required to document or record during construction. These records must be available to the inspector at the completion of the project.
The most important records are the construction waste management records. The CalGreen Code requires that a minimum of 65% of all construction waste be recycled. The contractor must prove that this is the case at the end of the project. This requires a complex effort and coordination with the local waste hauler. All haul receipts must be retained. The receipts must show the tonnage of materials that were recycled, and the amount that was sent to landfill. In order to accomplish this the contractor will need to provide multiple roll-off boxes (dumpsters). The individual boxes must be labelled as recycled or landfill and carefully monitored.
Unfortunately many waste haulers are not set up to track construction waste and will provide little support for contractors. It becomes the contractors responsibility to set up a program that works for the local conditions.
A recent client of ours failed to track the recycled waste to the satisfaction of the building department and was fined a whopping $7000. This was for a single family residence in central California.The contractor failed to maintain the CalGreen construction waste plan documents to the satisfaction of the city. In addition to the financial penalty, the homeowner was delayed two months in occupying their new home. The unfortunate part of this was the contractor did have records of their haul receipts. However, they could not prove that the required 65% of the waste had been recycled.
Other records that need to be available to the inspector include materials containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These include paints, primers, stains, caulk, sealant, adhesives, carpet, laminate flooring, plywood, roof membrane, coatings, and concrete curing compounds. The contractor should keep purchase orders and/or used cans and tubes to demonstrate compliance. Another technique is to take pictures of the materials as they are being used to document this requirement.
Lastly the code requires the contractor document the moisture content of three framing members. This can be any wall stud, joist, or beam. They must contain less than 19% moisture to meet the code. We recommend contractors buy a $35 dollar moisture meter and take the measurements. They should photograph both the framing members and the meter readings. These records should be available to the inspector at the project close-out.
Whose Doing Your CalGreen Inspection?
If your building inspector is doing the CalGreen inspection the fee for this will likely be included in your permit fees. Check with your local plans desk or building inspections for direction on this.
If you are required to engage an ICC certified inspector, you will need to hire them separately. Depending on the project they may need to do one or two site inspections. Fees can vary widely so call around! In many cases the CalGreen specialist you hire to provide your checklist will also do your inspections. In our case we provide both services and include both fees in our proposal.
At CalGreen Energy Services we are specialists in the CalGreen Code. CalGreen is our only business. If you have need of a CalGreen inspector, please feel give us a call. We will ensure your CalGreen process is effortless.
Call us today and let us show you how we can help with your project.
Gary Welch has over 35 years experience in the field of sustainable building design. He is the CEO of CalGreen Energy Services. Gary is an ICC Certified CalGreen Special Inspector and Plans Examiner.