Let’s face it, dealing with city inspectors on your rehab projects can be quite the pain in the neck. When you’re doing smaller projects, you may even try to go under the radar and not even pull permits or deal with the city.
When you’re doing large renovations, it’s a good idea to do everything with permits, because getting caught can turn out to be a nightmare…I have lots of personal experience with that!
For some reason, the inspectors usually come off as arrogant and on a power trip. This isn’t always true, but it usually is. Some people never have a problem, but I want to make sure you have the best possible experience with them so your rehab projects go as smooth as possible.
No matter what kind of inspector you run into, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to get them on your side and try to gain as much rapport with them as possible because, again, they can make your life miserable if they want.
Here are a few strategies I’ve learned over the years on how to interact with them:
1. Cater to their ego whether they have a large one or not
This really works well. You don’t have to bow down to them, but you want to let them feel really important and knowledgeable. When you show that you agree with them and present actions that confirm their “power”, you’d be shocked at how quickly they will do you favors and ease up on requirements. We want to do things right and up to code, but cranky inspectors can take things too far and make you do things that aren’t totally necessary “just because”.
2. Try to create small talk right away
This is pretty simplistic, but it works. I’m not here presenting revolutionary ideas. I’m a guy who’s dealt with inspectors hundreds of times and I’ve fought my fair share of battles with them.
So, talk about the weather right away and get them diverted from the inspection work for a minute and make friends. Some might brush it off and some will take to it. If you don’t do it at all, you’ll never know. Again, the benefit here is that they may lighten up on you a little.
3. Always over-deliver with drawings
When you are having your contractors draw out on graph paper the actual work that you are doing, you always want to be extremely detailed. Go way above and beyond what you know is expected. When you set this kind of tone up front, they are more likely to believe that the rest of the project and caliber of work will be top notch. Then they will go into the inspections with a much more lax approach because they will know they are dealing with total construction experts.
There are other things that I do as well, but I wanted to highlight 3 quick tips for you because I know they will make a difference in your experiences with inspectors and make your job sites run a little smoother.