Special Inspections Standard of Care
Special Inspections Standard of Care
What I've encountered is, the special inspection/geotechnical firms keep business coming in, or increase their volume of work, by building relationships with the contractors. They sweep deviations under the rug by not listing them in the reports. Entire projects are inspected with very few or no deviations. The contractors in a lot of cases have first contact with the owner before the special inspection firm does, and typically recommend a special inspection firm to the owner. If a special inspection firm was easy to work with (i.e. if they weren't too hard on them), the contractor will recommend them to the owner.
For example, at my previous company, I went and did a wood framing inspection for an apartment building for another project manager. There were nails missing, clips missing, blocking missing, anchor bolts missing, they used smaller nails than required, etc. As I was telling the project superintendent about this stuff, he asks me "are you going to put this in your report". I said "yes". He said "you can't do that, your going to make my company look bad". I said "well it would be unethical not to. He said, "He didn't have any issues until you came out here". I sent my report out with the deviation in it anyway then I looked at the previous inspections reports done by the special inspection project manager (who is a PE). They had no deviations in them. He had just been passing the inspections with all this stuff missing. I was later terminated by this company due to contractor complaints. There was some "head butting" between me and management because they wanted me to building relationships with contractors to increase work volume. The company's marketing strategy was built around this, this was supposedly a large reputable company.
I'm running into this same thing at my current company. There was a situation were the project manager (at PE) marked my reports as mailed because they had deviations in them and he was buddies with the contractor who was going to give him the next project. There was another situation where a contractor asked another project manager to not send me back to the project site, and the company complied with his request. The division manager called me up and asked me about the situation and I told him that contractors don't want me to list the deviations in my reports, they want me to sweep them under the rug for them. He said, "your just taking it that way, they are not asking you to do that". In response, I said "Well, if they are asking me to not list the deviations in my report, or not send my report to the owner, what else does that mean". He response was "you are too black and white, don't list the deviations in your report and just recheck them the next time your at the site". But what I'm not the inspector that goes to the site the next time?
I'm very through in my inspections and compare my observations to the project design plans and specifications. The way I see it, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I've previously filed a couple of board complaints and ended up getting blacklisted, and the board didn't issue any charges, they sent me a letter each time saying that my complaints were unfounded. That's part of the reason I got terminated from my last company, the previous company call them and told them I turned in the last two companies I worked for. I had to move to another state and start over, and now the same thing is happening again. I'm never filing another board complaint again. They won't do anything anyway and I'll just get blacklisted again.
There's a big conflict of interest going on in this business and people who cut corners are the ones who are successful. It turns out that following plans and specifications is not how it works in the real world, it just whats on paper. I've been struggling with this for years now and I'm kind of fed up. I'm looking for some advice on what I could do differently if I choose to stay in this business. I feel that if I "just pass everything", I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I have a conscience and if I didn't list a deviation in a report, I would feel like a liar. But a lot of other people don't seem to lose sleep over it and are successful.