A San Diego building inspector is on the job but wearing a mask and gloves amid the pandemic. Courtesy City of San Diego

San Diego is now offering optional virtual inspections for more than 20 common projects at residential and commercial properties to limit the spread of coronavirus and speed construction.

”We’re making it easier than ever to build in San Diego by leveraging technology to help the construction industry get more shovels in the ground faster,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult to conduct in-person inspections so we’re moving to virtual inspections that will be easier to schedule and help move projects along more efficiently and effectively.”

Earlier this year, the city’s Development Services Department tested virtual inspections by allowing customers to submit photos of work conducted under mechanical, electrical and plumbing permits issued without a plan review for minor installations.

Customers may now request a virtual inspection by completing a form on the department’s website. If the inspection qualifies, it will be conducted with customers at the job site using Google Meet.

“Virtual inspections will help us conduct more inspections each day and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating the need to drive to sites while adhering to physical distancing protocols,” said Kelly Charles, interim deputy director of the department.

Inspections that may be conducted virtually for single-family residences, duplexes, as well as some commercial projects, include:

  • Electrical vehicle charging stations
  • Drywall
  • Exterior siding
  • Foundation retrofits, including mobile homes
  • Gas air tests
  • Insulation
  • Light standard footings
  • Minor framing/shear
  • Re-roofs
  • Re-inspection of minor corrections
  • Retaining wall footings
  • Rooftop and ground-mount solar photovoltaic
  • Shower pans and tubs
  • Simple heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) change-outs
  • Slab grades
  • Temporary power
  • Trash enclosures
  • Water heaters
  • Water services and re-pipes
  • Window and door replacements

Large or complex inspections, as well as virtual inspections that can’t be conducted properly, will still be inspected physically onsite.

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