Inspection Cooperation

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Harry Williams knows codes, and he uses that to his company''''s advantage

July 17, 2000

Building inspectors make sure remodeling projects unfold as planned and meet local building codes. Harry Williams, owner of Williams-Builders in Robbinsville, N.J., holds a license in building inspection, he does not practice. Instead, he transforms his knowledge into power--as a remodeler.

"My knowledge helps us to adhere to the codes and to interpret them," Williams says. "It's all about being as smart as your adversary. When you talk to someone in authority, you either accept what is being said verbatim, or you show that you are informed so the authority treats you with respect and doesn't try to push a procedure which isn't right."

When an inspector cites a code violation, Williams does not always accept the initial interpretation. He asks from which section and paragraph the code is being read, and then either decides if the interpretation is correct or suggests an alternate method. "In remodeling, you can implement cost-saving procedures if you need other ways to do something," Williams says.

For example, in New Jersey there are two sets of codes--one dealing with single-family residences and another covering most everything else. Knowing the different applications of both codes allows for more alternatives and flexibility. Besides being able to resolve existing code problems, Williams also averts future construction holdups.

"If you expand an area a certain amount, according to the code, you need to add a certain amount of fire alarms," Williams says. "If you know this, and anticipate the requirements, then you can add the fire alarms beforehand and build that into your cost."

Williams' employees attend construction code training, which results in the company saving money by knowing what they can and cannot do. "It reinforces our credibility," Williams says. "The client recognizes that the remodeler knows how to build a house that is safe and meets the codes of the municipality."

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