RISE Doro hired a private company to conduct building inspections. How is that different from a city inspector?

Permits for the RISE Doro show it hired a private company to do some of its inspections while the structure was being built.

News4JAX has been digging into why some contractors use private companies to make sure construction projects are up to code instead of always relying on city inspectors.

Michael Feinberg, who’s a partner at Ansbacher Law, said contractors are allowed to hire their building inspectors to make sure their construction is up to code instead of using a city or county inspector.

“One of the main reasons why contractors utilize private inspectors is to keep projects moving and keep costs down. At the same time, one of the downsides of using a private inspector is that sometimes they cut corners, sometimes they have a special relationship with a builder, and they give the stamp of approval even though the stamp of approval shouldn’t be given,” Feinberg said.

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Feinberg said if something goes wrong with the project, it’s typically the contractor who is considered liable, not the inspector.

“The inspection does get filed with the building department and the building department is supposed to obviously, oversee that, but whether an actual building official does look at each single inspection report, probably not the case, even though they probably should. And even if even if they do, they’re typically going to defer to whatever that inspector, whatever that inspector’s assessment was,” Feinberg said.

Jacksonville Fire and Rescue crews from across the city surrounded the new RISE Doro Apartments at 960 E. Adams St. late Sunday night after the first call came in around 9:30 p.m. The fire appeared contained after about 90 minutes, but then reignited around midnight and continued to burn all night.

John Shishilla is a past president of the Florida Association of Building Inspectors, though the group’s members primarily handle home inspections, some members are building inspectors who would do this type of private provider inspections.

“We see it all the time where they have their inspector sign stuff off, and you go, I don’t know that was right. And if we turn them in, usually the building official, you know, the jurisdiction will step in and straighten it out. But it does happen where things go unnoticed, because, you know, the building inspector was either A: rushed or willing to look past certain things,” Shishilla said.

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Shishilla said private inspectors are required to have licenses, and their work is only as good as they are.

There were 59,343 building inspections performed by private providers from 2019 to 2020 in Jacksonville, according to the city’s website. Over that same period, there were 24 audits conducted by the local government of private building inspections.

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