Introduction to Blueprint Reading for Inspectors.

Introduction to Blueprint Reading for Inspectors

Falls under the Category of a Code Inspection if you ask me. :smiley:

Better be charging a hefty price if this the road you choose to go down, and check with your Insurance carrier/Attorney. :wink:

Quite a few are already “down that road,” especially some in the crowd, the new-construction inspectors, and the commercial property inspectors. We’re just trying to catch up with them and give them the training that will help them do it better.

I do agree with Brian’s advice though:

… also… InterNACHI is attracting many code officials. Many are joining.

How can an inspector be a generalist when he doesn’t even understand what he is looking at…for those who have not been around the construction industry or are mostly familiar with just a few of the trades, they would benefit greatly in having a basic understanding in blueprint reading.

Most of the time an inspector will not see a set of blueprints however if a question arises about the construction of a home and you are presented with a set of blueprint, one should know what you are looking at lest they look incompetent.

The more we as inspectors can bring a great degree of knowledge (if even perceived) to our field, the great likelihood we can charge more for our services and knowledge. The problem with the inspection industry in general is that too many inspectors are flying by the seat of their pants all the while charging low ball prices while filling up their reports with “further evaluation warranted by licensed GC, etc.” Many states do not have licensing requirements for GC’s and those that do often are a joke; add to the fact that during the business boom most code officials were not at the jobsite more than 5 minutes and even then many are only looking at the most common deficiencies they see day in and day out. Even though most inspectors will disclose that the inspection is not technically exhaustive, that in itself does not prevent us from exceeding what our SOP’s outline, especially when bring pertinent information to the client which 1.) is value to them and 2.) makes us look more professional and knowledgeable compared to that of the average GC or BI.

I personally would love to see the average fee for an inspection at $1500.00… the more knowledge one has, the more they can charge accordingly.

Good job Nick…

I have. It’s called Phased Construction Inspections. You just gotta be able to read the plans.

  1. To determine where the Architect messed up.
  2. To determine where the builder messed up, by changing the Architect’s plans (at least, in execution).
  3. To determine if the builder is not properly supervising the project and the subs (and the subs workers) are following the plans.

The Architect, ultimitly, has responsibilty (i.e. Liablilty) for his plans. If he messed up (it happens. Architects are, primarily, concerned with “design”, not functionality. See Frank Lyod Wright.) he takes the hit. If the builder dod not folow the plans, they he has the liability. If the builder (GC) does not make sure that EACH AND EVERY detail of the plan is executed, ACCORDING TO PLANS, then he has the liability. BUT, there are always the lowest worker, most probalbly hired from the local Home Depot parking lot for the day, by the sub, who never gets the message, has training or has read the plans.

It is all about passing the buck.

Serve your client. Learn more. Be trained to be able to read the plans and find differences.

If you don’t, it is YOU who will be taking the liability upon yourself.

Hope this helps;

Many phased inspections are not covered by E&O, so be careful. Our inspections are typically contingent on the property being a dwelling, meaning it has a CO.

As to plan review (because that is what we are speaking of), most plans are absent of plumbing layouts. Also, I have to disagree with my friend from Chicago when he says:

We aint qualified to determine that…

Exactly Joe. :smiley:

Inspectors verify that the plans and specs were followed, period.

I don’t see how you can offer project oversight services without being able to read blueprints. And confirming that the contractors are doing what the plans call for is pretty simple, and so much fun to catch a mistake :D.

Knowledge is Power !!!

Just a couple of clarifications, based upon the conditions in my area.

  1. Most residential property and, pretty much all, houses around here never get COs. Not required by the municipalities and only done in Chicago for large condo buildings.
  2. I have read many plans where the Archiects has “messed up”. Cutting and pasting notes for the wrong municiaplity (house in Chicago with notes calling for complience with Northbrook electrical codes, for example). Also, details wrong (no drainage planes behind EIFS or thin stone veneer, 4" DWV pipes in 2 x 4 walls, etc).

Hope this helps;

When I went through my initial HI training course (one that McGraw-Hill) helped set up, blueprinting reading was part of the curriculum. From some of the questions we see in here and on other sites, it is apparent some HI do not have even a rudimentary understanding of how a home is constructed. Being able to read a blueprint package helps the beginner understand how it all fits together. I have never been compelled or felt the need to tell a customer “Btw, I know how to read a blueprint.” It is just knowledge for me, comes in handy occasionally and if it does nothing else at all, perhaps it might make the inspector a little more confident in their own assessments when they run across some fanged up piece of crap a contractor threw together and called it carpentry, or some wiring that makes no sense whatsoever. It is only one piece in a much bigger puzzle. Every little bit of corporate and professional knowledge helps the inspector. Anyone considered that using an IR camera (or other specialty tools) would fall under the same area of concerns regarding E & O coverage?

I agree with what Doug said. I received a Diploma in Architectural Drafting and Blueprint reading back 37 years ago.
I have to say that it helped tremendously as a Builder and continues to help as an HI.
Blueprint reading can get pretty intense as I have outlined below.

Blueprints (prints) are copies of mechanical or other types of technical drawings.
The term blueprint reading, means interpreting ideas expressed by others on drawings, whether or not the drawings are actually blueprints.
Drawing or sketching is the universal language used by engineers, technicians, and skilled craftsmen.
Drawings need to convey all the necessary information to the person who will make or assemble the object in the drawing.
Blueprints show the construction details of parts, machines, ships, aircraft, buildings, bridges, roads, and so forth.
The term blueprint is used loosely to describe copies of original drawings or tracings.
One of the first processes developed to duplicate tracings produced white lines on a blue background; hence the term blueprint.
Today, however, other methods produce prints of different colors.
The colors may be brown, black, gray, or maroon. The differences are in the types of paper and developing processes used.
The ability to make quick, accurate sketches is a valuable advantage that helps you convey technical information or ideas to others.
A sketch may be of an object, an idea of something you are thinking about, or a combination of both.
Most of us think of a sketch as a freehand drawing, which is not always the case.
You may sketch on graph paper to take advantage of the lined squares, or you may sketch on plain paper with or without the help of drawing instruments.

I believe that a course as Nick is proposing will create an awareness of the complexity of modern construction and its related technologies.
HI’s will learn the skills needed to read and understand construction drawings, as well as an understanding of manufacturers’ literature of component parts used in buildings. Both commercial and residential construction materials.
Problems encountered in design development such as site limitations, zoning restrictions, utility availability, coordination of product specifications, adherence to building codes and life safety might be explored.

It should also help to understand and interpret the relationships of the various systems within a structure. Systems include structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing. Blueprint symbols, design parameters, material usage and drawing references are examined from their architectural, engineering and construction perspectives.
HI’s should learn to visualize the building by integrating and coordinating the different drawings and help get a general survey of materials and methods currently used in the construction industry.
History and developments, advantages and disadvantages and the intrinsic nature of each material are understood better.
Appropriate uses and limitations of materials should be discussed so as to integrate these materials and techniques with other aspects of construction.

Hope this helps.


We have to look at InterNACHI as an army and the better equipped each soldier is the stronger we all are.