I'm looking into a new position- Inspector for an engineering firm that deals mainly with construction management. I would be the AHJ on these projects. The position will require me to do plan review on drawings submitted for permits. I have extremely little experience in plan review - Those of you who have done this, if you could pass on any tips, information, and things that I might want know , I would be most appreciative
It should tell you something that "plan reviewer" is typically a more senior position than "inspector," and requires several years of inspection experience.
In brief, you look at the plans, reviewing them for compliance with all codes. For example, if that false facade is more than a certain size, there needs to be access into it - even if there's nothing in there. Or that there has to be so many handicapped parking spaces. And so on.
My suggestion would be to get a plan review checklist. These can be purchased from organizations such as ICC, NFPA, IAEI, ect. Or, make one of your own. While I feel checklists for inspections are not all that useful, they can be useful when "learning" or new to plan review.
The key to doing a good plan review is to be consistent and comprehensive. When in doubt, request more information or engineering for an unclear detail.
Don't be afraid to contact the architect or engineer to receive guidance or clarity on a detail or document submittal.
The plan examining is the point during the construction process where 99% of problems and non-compliant issues can be found and corrected with the least amount of cost and delay. Take your time with plans. Never rubber stamp even the simplest of installations.
Also, get yourself a good magnifying glass, calculator, architecural ruler, and make sure you have a good drafting table or large working surface so that large plan sets can be looked at comfortably and for an extended period of time.
Bryan P. Holland, ECO. Secretary - IAEI Florida Chapter
Plan reviewer is not my primary job, but is one of my responsibilities and I've reviewed a lot of plans over the years. One thing to bear in mind is that you're not the designer, and there are multiple ways of doing things you may not like, or may see a better way, but you can't really reject. Nobody likes being told to do something "just because", and it's good practice to start citing specific code violations when you do reject a drawing, or at the very least, be able to cite specific code violations for things you mark up if they question it. But there are always exceptions; if you're an AHJ, use 90.2(C) where prudent. The codes are all about minimizing risk, and if other factors adequately mitigate risk, some code violations are sometimes acceptable. And don't forget there are other codes besides NEC that must also be followed; you need to be looking out for the electrical impact for the other trades, and will have to get with the civils and MEs to review portions of their prints, too. For a lot of this stuff, if you don't catch it or force them to comply, chances are, nobody will!
In time, you'll gain a working relationship with a lot of the engineers you work with, and a quick phone call can go a long way. And I can garuntee you that you will start to recognize specific engineers/draftsmen from their work, regardless of who actually signed the title block. And you'll know who you really only have to give a quick once-over and who gets the 9th degree.
Don't be afraid to reject drawings for lack of information or to ask for clarification- it's in everyone's interest to catch problems at design time as opposed to inspection, and you can't do that if they've just thrown a few lines on paper.
And lastly, sometimes, the drawings are simply WRONG. And I don't mean poor design, I mean, they're not accurately showing the existing condition and are simply wrong. These can be very difficult to catch but can lead to all sorts of problems down the road; if you suspect an error or see a serious pre-existing problem, bring it up to the engineer. And if practical, go to the site and look first-hand.