Construction and Building Inspectors

What Construction and Building Inspectors Do

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

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Work Environment

Construction and building inspectors examine worksites, both alone and as part of a team. Some inspectors climb ladders or crawl in tight spaces. Most work full time during regular business hours.

How to Become a Construction or Building Inspector

Construction and building inspectors usually need a high school diploma and work experience in a construction trade to enter the occupation. They typically learn on the job to attain competency. Many states and localities require some type of license or certification.

Pay

The median annual wage for construction and building inspectors was $60,710 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of construction and building inspectors is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Public interest in safety and the desire to improve the quality of construction should continue to create demand for inspectors. Certified construction and building inspectors who can perform a variety of inspections should have the best job opportunities.

Construction and building inspectors ensure that construction meets local and national building codes and ordinances, zoning regulations, and contract specifications.

Duties

Construction and building inspectors typically do the following:

  • Review building plans and approve those that meet requirements
  • Monitor construction sites periodically to ensure overall compliance
  • Use equipment and testing devices, such as moisture meters to check for plumbing leaks or flooding damage and electrical testers to ensure that electrical components are functional
  • Inspect plumbing, electrical, and other systems to ensure that they meet code
  • Use survey equipment to verify alignment, level, and elevation of structures and ensure building meets specifications
  • Issue violation notices and stop-work orders if building is not compliant
  • Keep daily logs, which may include digital images from inspections
  • Document findings in writing

Construction and building inspectors ensure safety compliance of buildings, dams, bridges, and other structures; highways and streets; and sewer and water systems. They also inspect electrical; heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration (HVACR); and plumbing systems. Inspectors typically check a project several times: for an initial check in the early construction phase, for followup inspections as the project progresses, and for a comprehensive examination after its completion. At each inspection, they may provide written or oral feedback about their findings.

The following are examples of types of construction and building inspectors:

Building inspectors check the structural quality, architectural requirements, and general safety of buildings. Some building inspectors focus on fire prevention and safety. Fire inspectors and investigators ensure that buildings meet fire codes.

Coating inspectors examine the exterior paint and coating on bridges, pipelines, and large holding tanks. In their checks throughout the painting process, inspectors ensure that protective layers are correctly applied.

Electrical inspectors examine a building’s installed electrical systems to ensure compliance and proper functioning. These systems may include new and existing sound and security systems, lighting, photovoltaic systems, generating equipment, and wiring for HVACR systems and appliances.

Elevator inspectors examine lifting and conveying devices, such as elevators, escalators, moving sidewalks, lifts and hoists, inclined railways, ski lifts, and amusement rides. They inspect both the mechanical and electrical control systems.

Home inspectors typically examine houses, condominiums, townhomes, and other dwellings to report on their structure and overall condition. Home sellers or home buyers, or both, may seek inspectors’ objective assessment of a dwelling before placing it on the market or submitting an offer.

In addition to checking structural quality, home inspectors examine home systems and features, including the roof, foundation, interior and exterior walls, and plumbing, electrical, and HVACR systems. They may identify violations of building codes but do not have the authority to enforce compliance.

Mechanical inspectors examine HVACR systems and equipment to ensure that they are installed and function properly. They also may inspect commercial kitchen equipment, gas-fired appliances, and boilers. Mechanical inspectors’ work differs from that of quality control inspectors, who inspect goods at manufacturing plants.

Plans examiners determine whether the plans for a building or other structure comply with adopted building codes, regulations, and ordinances.

Plumbing inspectors examine the installation of systems that ensure the safety of drinking water and industrial piping and the sanitary disposal of waste.

Public works inspectors ensure that the construction of federal, state, and local government water and sewer systems; roads and bridges; and dams conforms to specifications. They may specialize in projects such as highways, structural steel, or dredging operations required for bridges, dams, or harbors.

Special inspectors ensure that critical construction work, such as high-strength concrete, steel fabrication, and welding, is installed and tested according to design specifications. Special inspectors represent the owner’s interests, not those of the general public. Insurance companies and financial institutions also may use their services.

Construction and building inspectors held about 120,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of construction and building inspectors were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37%
Engineering services 16
Construction 7
Self-employed workers 7
State government, excluding education and hospitals 5

Although construction and building inspectors spend most of their time examining worksites, they also spend time in an office reviewing blueprints, writing reports, and scheduling inspections.

Some inspectors climb ladders or crawl in tight spaces as part of their work.

Inspectors typically work alone. However, inspectors may work as part of a team on large, complex projects, particularly if they specialize in one area of construction.

Work Schedules

Most inspectors work full time during regular business hours. However, some work additional hours during periods of heavy construction. Also, if an accident occurs at a construction site, inspectors must respond immediately and may work additional hours to complete their report. Some inspectors—especially those who are self-employed—work evenings and weekends. This is particularly true of home inspectors, who typically inspect homes during the day and write reports in the evening.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of construction and building inspectors.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Appraisers and Assessors of Real Estate

Appraisers and assessors of real estate provide a value estimate on land and buildings.

Bachelor’s degree $57,010

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor’s degree $80,750

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,330

Electricians

Electricians

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $56,180

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping fixtures and systems.

High school diploma or equivalent $55,160

Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop electrical and electronic equipment.

Associate’s degree $65,260

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor’s degree $101,250

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries.

Bachelor’s degree $63,420

Construction Managers

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget, and supervise construction projects from start to finish.

Bachelor’s degree $95,260

Occupational Health and Safety Specialists and Technicians

Occupational health and safety specialists and technicians collect data on and analyze many types of work environments and work procedures.

See How to Become One $70,480

For more information about building codes, certification, and a career as a construction or building inspector, visit

International Code Council

National Fire Protection Association

For more information about coating inspectors, visit

NACE International

For more information about construction inspectors, visit

Association of Construction Inspectors

For more information about electrical inspectors, visit

International Association of Electrical Inspectors

For more information about elevator inspectors, visit

National Association of Elevator Safety Authorities International

For more information about education and training for mechanical and plumbing inspectors, visit

International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials

For information about becoming a home inspector, visit

American Society of Home Inspectors

International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

O*NET

Construction and Building Inspectors


Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Construction and Building Inspectors,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/construction-and-building-inspectors.htm (visited ).