PRACTICAL INSPECTION INFORMATION
The following practical information should prove useful to the certified
DSA inspector. We will try to cover a wide range of topics.
Inspector Certification and Approval
here for link to DSA IR A-7 "Inspector
Certification and Approval". It outlines certification requirements and
explains the difference between Class 1, 2, 3 and 4 inspectors.
Inspector’s Job File
DSA IR A-8. To download free copies of IR's (Interpretation of Regulations)
click here. The project inspector’s
responsibilities include: a thorough understanding of all requirements of
the construction documents. Identification, documentation, and reporting
of deviations from the contract documents. Submittal of verified reports.
The inspector must maintain approved construction documents, including DSA
approved plans and specifications, at the job site in an organized manner.
Keeping good records and maintaining ready access to building codes,
references and approved documents is not only required but is beneficial
to the inspector, the District, the State, the consultants and the
project. Here are some of the key items that should be in your job files:
Photographs showing work progress, excavations,
underground utilities, footings, framing, various attachments, HVAC rough,
electrical rough, finish substrates, fireproofing, testing, impact of
weather exposure, damage to work installed and areas of concern or dispute
are valuable to all team members. They also help the inspector to re-trace
his steps when issues come up as a result of work installed in months
There’s nothing as good as a digital camera and a computer hard drive to
perform this task. Photos can be moved to CD’s or DVD’s when disk space
becomes an issue. Copies can be distributed as needed. Digital photos can
also be emailed to the Architect or other parties to help resolve site
construction issues. When using Microsoft Word to write reports, use
‘insert photo’ to paste photographs into the file. Use arrow pointers to
highlight areas in the photograph.
Use this rule of thumb when taking photographs: take pictures of anything
that gets concealed or anything that represents a deviation from the
plans. Make sure your photos or photo files note the date they were
created. If you download your camera daily, the file creation date will
typically be entered automatically and only changed if the photo is
Every product to be incorporated into a structure
requires an approved submittal. The contractor(s) submit products to the
architect who then returns the submittal to the team members with a
stamped approval or “no exceptions taken” noted on the cover sheet. Any
submittal that says “revise and resubmit” is NOT approved.
Products submitted should reflect product information that is covered in
the approved contract specification, although there will often be some
changes or substitutions made. The District is typically made aware of
changes or substitutions in case there is a maintenance issue (e.g. the
District uses a particular sprinkler head throughout the District to
simplify maintenance issues). Submittals will contain product data,
manufacturers installation recommendations, as well as safety, fire, or
As work progresses through it’s various phases, the IOR should refer to
both the approved submittals and the contract specifications, catching any
variances prior to the actual installation. As an owner's representative,
the inspector is in an ideal situation to make sure the District gets what
it's paying for.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood elements of
school construction, contract specifications are a vital part of the
contract documents and are approved with a stamp by the consultants as
well as DSA. They are no less important than the approved plans.
The contract specifications reinforce, and in some cases augment,
information and details provided on the approved plans. Specifications cover all
elements of the construction, including testing and inspection. They
typically contain contract information specifically outlining the scope of
each contractors contract. They may also contain specific soils
recommendations, the DSA Testing and Inspection sheet
(T&I sheet link click
blank forms to be used for inspection requests, requests for information,
change order requests, etc.
When there is a discrepancy between the approved
plans and the contract specifications, the specifications may prevail,
depending on the way that the contract is written.
Where testing is required, such as nondestructive testing of welds or pull
testing, specific information may be provided in the specifications that
apply to the test requirements (e.g. method and amount of testing required, tensions,
loads, etc.). It is not uncommon for the requirements in the contract
specification to exceed minimum code requirements.
Treat the specifications with respect and read each section carefully. Are circuit
and panel identification required on all receptacle covers? Do conduits
and piping require identification? What is the depth of scarification when
preparing the site for concrete flatwork, fire lanes, parking lots? Is one
or two layers of 15 pound kraft paper required with lath? Is the lath
self-furring diamond mesh? The contract specifications will answer these
kind of questions in detail.
The first part of each section in the specifications
will note related sections that also apply. This will be followed up with
acceptable product types and descriptions. Each section will typically
provide information on submittals, mock-ups, and installation
T&I Sheet -
Structural Tests and Inspections Form
The architect or structural engineer is required
to prepare a DSA form 103, List of Structural Tests and Special Inspections sheet, and
have it approved by DSA for project start-up. When you first meet with
your architect, ask for a copy of this completed and approved form. The
minimal testing and inspections required by DSA for your project
will be itemized by category on this form. Your DSA field engineer will ask to see the form when he
visits the site.
The approved plans will typically include detailed
information on all elements of construction. There will be sheets covering
everything from grading to irrigation to structural foundation work and
finish work. “Approved” means approved by DSA. If there is no DSA stamp, or
the stamp is is there but not signed and dated by DSA, you do not have an approved set
of plans. A stamp by the architect or structural engineer is not a DSA
stamp. If there are deltas indicating changes to the drawings that are
dated after the DSA stamped approval date, you do not have a current set
of DSA approved plans unless the changes are supported by DSA approved
There may be information that is missing from the drawings or conflicting
information in the drawings. It is the obligation of the contractor or
contract management to issue a request for information (RFI) to the
Architect to provide the missing information or clarify conflicts in the
plans. The Architect will defer structural issues to the structural
engineer, civil issues to the civil engineer, electrical issues to the
electrical engineer, etc.
When the response comes in from an RFI that reflects a change in
structural detailing, handicap access, or fire and life safety, the change
must be submitted to DSA for approval. It is preferred to get preliminary
approval in writing from DSA of any such changes, since any work that gets
covered up that is later NOT approved by DSA, will create unnecessary
hardships for all parties involved.
In reviewing drawings, make sure you are always a few steps ahead of the
construction. A concrete pour is not just about the rebar and concrete. A
concrete wall, for instance, may also include plumbing and electrical
rough-in, block outs for piping or HVAC, and embeds for structural
attachment. You must have a handle on how to coordinate your review of the
drawings so that it includes all trades. It is not your job to coordinate
the work, but approval of a concrete pour implies approval of all required
elements to be incorporated in that pour.
noted above, when there is a conflict between the approved plans and the
contract specifications, check the contractual information in the
specification to see which detail information prevails.
Deferred Approval Drawings
When plans are approved by DSA, there may be certain elements of the
construction (e.g. automatic fire sprinkler systems,
window wall systems, skylights) that are considered proprietary and
require deferred approval by DSA. These drawings will be issued and
approved by DSA independently of the main set of plans and specifications.
Deferred approvals will be noted on the front pages of the approved plans.
The reason for requiring this delay in the approval process is that some
engineered products cannot be adequately detailed on the approved plans
until a specific manufacturer is identified and approved in the submittal
The deferred approval plans will typically have the
same DSA A# as the original plans. DSA is trying to phase out the use of
deferred approval process but it currently remains in place.
Shop drawings are not reviewed or approved by DSA. It is for this reason
that DSA prefers that you do not inspect solely from shop drawings but
always refer to the approved plans.
If you look in the
contract specification for each trade you may notice a requirement for
many of the trades to submit shop drawings for approval by the architect.
The shop drawings focus on a particular contract item (e.g. HVAC). The shop drawings
typically indicate details of fabrication and installation, including locations,
routing and means of attachment or burial that the contractor or
subcontractor intends to employ during construction. Review of the shop
drawings allows the architect to notify the contractor of deviations from
the plans and specifications or layout issues that may cause conflict with
other trades (e.g. where there is limited
space above a dropped ceiling and the contractor(s) need to install HVAC duct,
conduit and devices (low voltage and power), roof drains, condensate drains, water
pipe, vent pipe, fire sprinkler pipe, hanger wires, bracing wires and compression struts in
the space provided). The approved plans may be diagrammatic, allowing
flexibility in the actual layout. A conscientious architect can make
comments or corrections notes on the shop drawings that assist in
coordination issues. Review of the shop drawings may also cause the
architect to make modifications such as a change in ceiling height to
remedy conflict issues.
Copies of approved shop drawings should be maintained on site by the
inspector. Use the shop drawings as a reference, but remember the
contractor is bound to the approved plans and specifications unless there
is an DSA approved change order to support a change (e.g. structural, fire
and life safety, handicap access changes). Minor modifications that do not
represent a change in project costs or scope, such as relocation of a light
fixture or AC vent, piping or conduit runs, would not typically require an
approved change order.
The inspector must keep
an eye out for detailing on the approved shop drawings that conflicts with
the approved plans or code but was not picked up by the consultants during
Samples of glazing, plaster finish, ceramic tile, ceiling tile, finishes
and other materials are typically submitted to the architect for approval.
Duplicates with a stamped approval should be provided to the inspector for
reference and maintained on the job site.
DSA IR A-8. The inspector must maintain
detailed records of all inspections at the job site. A systematic record
of all work is required.
Click here for sample
daily inspection form. The inspector’s daily report is used to track
personnel, construction activities, visitors to the site, material
deliveries, weather, inspection and testing activities, and to highlight
issues (changes, non-conformance).
By using a laptop computer and printer, the form can be standardized as a
word or PDF file. Entries can be made and printed out each day. Over time,
a legible history of the project is created that all team members can
review and comprehend as needed.
By using ‘check-control’ you can develop a history of open and resolved
construction and inspection issues. Simply put a check to the left of any
line-entry that details an issue. Later, when the issue is resolved,
return to the check and circle it with a date. At the end of the project
all checked entries on your daily reports should be circled.
Site observations by the architect and engineer are required by code.
Tracking visits by the architect, engineer and other consultants provides
a history of interaction with the site team, including the inspector.
Notes on official site visitors, such as the architect or engineer, are
requested in DSA’s sample semi-monthly report.
Tracking material deliveries helps to create an accurate timeline of work
progress and should include notes by the inspector that he received all
necessary material certifications and, when required, sampled materials
for lab testing.
A quick overview at the top of each daily report provides an at-a-glance
window on project activities. Detailed information can be provided below
where each trades activities and work locations are noted.
Documenting the weather may not seem important, but high winds can impact
plaster cure, rain can cause leaks and damage where roofing is not
compete, intense sun may impact exposed materials that have limited
exposure time. Any damage or potential issues that result from weather
impact should be noted on the daily report. Tracking rain days also
assists the team when reviewing contractor performance issues.
It’s understood that some of these tracking items are not specifically
required by code but they are a part of good record keeping and may
benefit the inspector, the architect and the owner. They are a clear
indicator to the DSA field engineer that you are involved with the
Copies of your daily reports may be requested by the District or its
representatives. Sign and date your daily report!
DSA IR A-8. The project inspector must make
semi-monthly reports on the 1st and 15th of every month and submit copies
of the report to the architect, engineer and DSA.
DSA provides a form DSA-155 semi-monthly report on its web site.
Click here to download this and other
needed forms. This is where
you note work progress, materials testing and special inspections
performed, problems or unusual conditions, deviation notices, DSA field
trip notes, and official site visitors for a specific 15-day period.
Copies of the semi-monthly report must be sent to the design officials and
DSA. Copies should be maintained in your files.
DSA does not typically require detailed information in
the semi-monthly reports. It is more of an overview indicating project
progress. Make sure that you clearly indicate percentage of completion on
each report. DSA is also requesting that the project inspector attach a
form indicating daily hours worked for the period covered by the
Log of Testing and Special Inspections
DSA IR A-8. The inspector is responsible for
verifying that all required material sampling and special inspections have
If you maintain a simple call log, noting the date, your initials, which
testing lab you called, a brief description of type of testing, what type
of inspection or sampling is required, the area where the testing or
occur and the date and time testing is required, you will have an at-a-glance record
of all site testing activities.
The inspector can use the log as a reference to make sure all lab testing
reports have been copied to the inspector for his review.
During the project you may be asked to explain testing
and inspection cost over-runs. The log will indicate details on each call
Concrete and Grout Placement Record
In addition to the use of a log for testing and special inspections, an
excellent way to maintain a record of concrete and grout placement is to file copies
of all concrete trip tickets, stapling each days tickets together and
writing specific location information on the top of the ticket. These
tickets can be compared to your log and to field reports issued by special
inspectors for a complete history of inspection activities.
Special Inspection Field Reports
Maintain copies of all special inspection and testing field reports. The
best way to make this happen is to sign every inspector’s field report and
demand a copy at the end of each day. File the copies in sequential order
after reviewing them. These reports can be referenced back to your Log of
Testing and Special Inspections. They can also be referenced back to your
DSA requires that copies of all special inspection
reports be issued to the IOR on a daily basis. Any non-compliance issues
should be clearly noted on the reports. Corrective work and final
acceptance of previously noted non-compliance work should be clearly
noted in the daily reports.
Lab Test Records
All test records are to be created and maintained by
the approved testing lab. Copies must be distributed to all parties
including the IOR. It is the labs responsibility to promptly notify all
parties of any test failure.
The IOR should always request to be put on the lab
mailing list for test and inspection report distribution. The IOR must
review each test report to verify that the lab test was completed and
that the results were in compliance with project/code
requirements. These test records should be filed and maintained as part
of the IOR project records.
DSA IR A-8. When the inspector notices
deviations from the approved plans and specifications, the inspector must
verbally notify the contractor.
If you issue and maintain IOR transmittals and a log
of the transmittals, documenting deviations from the approved contract
documents that do not warrant an immediate notice of deviation or
non-compliance, you give the contractor the opportunity to correct the
deviation and establish a way to track issues and how they were resolved.
It’s like maintaining an open punch-list that can be updated and
referenced by the inspector, the contractor, or the architect.
At the end of the project all IOR transmittal items
should be closed out or moved onto a final punchlist.
Notice of Deviation
DSA IR A-8. When the inspector notices
deviations from the approved plans and specifications, the inspector must
verbally notify the contractor. If not immediately corrected, the
inspector is required to issue a notice of deviation to the contractor,
design professional and DSA.
It is requested in DSA’s semi-monthly
report form 155 that the inspector should include information on any ‘deviation
notices’ issued. Also called a ‘notice of non-compliance’, a notice of
deviation gives notice that work is being set in place that is not in
compliance with the contract documents and that the contractor has not
responded to a verbal request to make corrections. You will not be able to
close out the project if there are open notices of deviation. Notices of
not be issued without first communicating with the contractor in an
attempt to resolve the issue without a notice.
Remember, changes from the contract documents are allowed when the changes
are approved in writing by the responsible design professionals and DSA.
Changes do occur and are not necessarily a bad thing; if they get approved.
Contractors use the RFI (request for information) submittal process to
request detail clarifications or to note conditions that will require a
deviation from the contract documents. The RFI is submitted to the
architect for review. When the RFI is returned it will have comments,
details or sketches from the architect or consultants. If the
response represents a change to the contract documents it must be
supported by an approved change order. Work that proceeds prior to receipt
of an approved DSA change order, or preliminary change order, is done at the contractor’s own risk and
should be noted in a deviation notice.
The inspector must review and maintain all RFI responses.
Addenda, like change orders, must be approved by DSA. At bid time,
contractors are notified in the contract specifications of addenda;
changes not shown on the bid plans that may add or delete scope from their
work. Specific information on addenda content is typically found in the
front section of the contract specifications. When DSA approves the
contract specifications containing they will also stamp and approve the addenda.
Watch out for addenda slipped into the approved specifications after
DSA approval of the specifications.
Including addenda in
the contract specifications allows the architect to introduce changes not
shown on the bid set of plans.
Change Orders and
Preliminary Change Orders
DSA IR A-6.
During the project, changes to the approved plans must be submitted by the
architect to DSA for approval. Change orders typically represent changes
to the monetary assessment of the project and must include any structural,
life safety, handicap access, or energy conservation changes. Any work that proceeds without DSA approval
is done so at the contractor’s own risk, even when the change order is
approved by the architect or engineer. For structural changes the engineer
must convince the state that the change is required and support the change
with calculations and sketches.
Change orders must also be approved by the school
district. The district's concerns are typically financial.
It is not uncommon for a contractor to proceed on a
change order issued by the architect, prior to approval by DSA. You can
issue an IOR Transmittal stating that the contractor is proceeding at his
own risk without DSA approval. Sometimes a notice will cause a contractor to
think twice about proceeding without DSA approval. You can speak with the architect and
engineer to get reassurances but you should also let them know that DSA
approval should be forthright.
Take your stand in writing. If the DSA field
engineer drops by the job site and questions you on work proceeding
without DSA approval, you can present your IOR transmittal as evidence
that you have put the contractor on notice. The field engineer may select to
speak directly with the architect in response to this kind of issue.
A method of getting early approval for changes is for
the architect to submit specific changes for preliminary approval by DSA.
Preliminary change orders (known as Field Change Directives) are reviewed on
the evidence of details and calculations provided and do not address cost
or financial scope changes which will be included in the full change
order. When properly presented, preliminary change orders are usually
expedited by DSA, allowing the contractor to proceed without risk of
rejection by DSA or the DSA approved inspector. Title 24 does NOT require
all field orders to be included in a change order.
The IOR is responsible for submitting a DSA 6 form
whenever a portion of the project is to be occupied. This form must
indicate any incomplete work that may impact occupancy. The IOR must
also submit a DSA 6 final report when all work has been completed or
when the IOR is concluding his/her services. This form should only cover
the time period during which you were engaged on the project. If another
IOR was on your site before you arrived, the previous inspector is
responsible for issuing a DSA 6 form for work completed under their
Each special inspector is responsible for issuing
a completed DSA form 292 Special Inspection Verified Report to DSA or to
the approved testing lab (available at:
The approved testing lab is responsible for
issuing copies of daily reports and verified reports to DSA for all
inspections and testing (see links below).
The special inspector and the approved testing lab
share the responsibility of getting their reports and close-out forms to
DSA. Daily reports should have been issued by the lab to DSA within 14
days of being issued. You should have received daily copy of all field
reports for your review. Assuming you have reviewed all special
inspection daily reports and all lab test results and found them to be
in compliance, you need only submit your own form 6 and let the testing
lab and their inspectors handle their own verified report submittals.
DSA has a suggested format for all inspection daily reports. Daily
reports issued to DSA by the testing lab may attach a cover sheet
conforming to these formats and stamped by the lab engineer.
There are also requirements for the contractor,
design consultants, and the lab of record, to issue close-out reports.
You must verify these reports are posted on DSA Box and are noted in the
applicable lines of the Inspection Cards before you can sign off the
cards as complete.