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Code Enforcement announces limit to H1 inspections

For the past three years Mecklenburg County residents who completed upgrades or repairs to their property could qualify for a faster, more convenient and free home inspection. But the county’s Code Enforcement department announced last week there are some changes coming to the program – known as H1 inspections.

H1 inspections are used when home repairs or upgrades have been made, and the inspector needs access to the interior of the home to complete the inspection. In an effort to minimize the impact on the homeowner’s schedule, the contractor who did the work is able to schedule the inspection on a day that will fit in well with the schedule of the homeowner, according to a press release about the program from Code Enforcement.

On the day of the inspection, the inspector gives the homeowner two hours’ notice before arriving to perform the inspection. This means that the homeowner does not have to wait the entire day for the inspector.

The H1 program has been a big success for the county, but in some cases it has become a little too popular. As a result, the county is now going to limit each building inspector to five slots for an H1 inspection per day.

“The only difference (between a regular inspection and an H1 inspection) is that access to the residential property has to be coordinated with a homeowner who will meet the inspector to allow entry, so this would only be on existing residences,” said the county’s Residential Inspections Team Manager Jeff Griffin.

Griffin emphasize that the county is pleased that H1 inspections are helpful to customers, but they are only appropriate under certain circumstances. They should not be used when the inspector does not need access to the interior of the home to complete the inspection, nor should they be used if the homeowner would normally be home during regular business hours.

They should not be used when the inspector will be meeting the contractor, instead of the homeowner. In all of the above circumstances, the contractor should schedule a “regular” inspection.

“If it’s not an H1 inspection we take the inspections in the order they come in and during peak periods some request could take 1-3 days to respond to,” Griffin said. “With an H1 you know when the inspector is coming to your home and we have worked with the homeowner directly to setup a time that is convenient for them. This prevents a homeowner from taking off work to sit all day waiting on an inspector to find out that their inspection will not happened that day.”

Griffin said the reduction in slots for H1 inspections are a control measure to make more efficient scheduling.

“It’s not possible for our inspectors to do 20-30 H1 appointment inspections a day or even make that many calls to setup appointments so with the limit of five the hope is they will get all five the day of the request or at least they will be able to make the calls to schedule all five with the homeowners on dates and times that are convenient for access,” he said. “This will also help with contractors who still setup the inspection as an H1 and tell the owner to that they have scheduled an appointment for that date and they need to take off and wait for the inspections, now that will be limited to five potential events a day rather than having an unlimited number of H1 request that come in for any single inspector.”

To cut down on misunderstandings with contractors and homeowners, the county has instituted a warning note in the online inspection scheduling software.

“The contractor should read and acknowledge that note,” Griffin said. “However, occasionally, this is overlooked and someone is sitting home waiting which is something we don’t want to happen without an appointment.”

Griffin said the county’s goal in reducing the number of slots per inspector is to make better use of timeslots. Also, if all slots for a certain day are taken, contractors can simply schedule for a slot the next day.

“We believe that nobody will be left waiting on an inspector longer than 1-2 hour window they are typically given,” he said.

And with the reduction in H1 slots, inspectors may be able to better react to demand for “regular” inspections, too, Griffin said.

“One of the issues we face is there are no cap on inspections, when a contractor is ready they can put in their request without limitation. The residential team handles about 1,000 inspection requests a day in Mecklenburg County,” Griffin said. “However, during peak times this can increase almost overnight by 20-30 percent. Since there is no limit on the number of inspections we manage the workloads through overtime, shifting resources daily and when we are not able to get to all of the requests in a day we manage by sorting some inspection requests higher on a priority list such as concrete work or (final inspections) where individuals are waiting on certificates of occupancy to move into their new home or business. The H1 inspection request takes a lot of coordination and multiple phone calls to make sure a property owner is taken care of, with the volume that we deal with it is extremely important that we control that volume and expectation.”

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