Hoping to combat a shrinking pool of certified building inspectors in Pennsylvania, a West Shore lawmaker is proposing legislation that would create a training program.
Rep. Sheryl Delozier (R-Cumberland), in a memo seeking co-sponsors, said the number of certified inspectors and plan examiners has dwindled to less than 2,500 in recent years.
Municipalities and third-party agencies are both reporting shortages in qualified, certified people to fill vacancies, she said. “Constituents call in and complain they can’t get plans approved on time. And municipalities need folks certified to approve and move the process along.”
The decline has been driven by retirements coupled with fewer construction professionals moving into careers as code officials, according to the Pennsylvania Builders Association, which is backing the legislative effort.
The current accreditation system allows people to be certified without any requirement for field experience at active construction sites, said Melanie Wise, an association spokeswoman.
“We believe both residential builders and the general public will benefit from the establishment of a trainee program,” she said.
According to the state Department of Labor and Industry, there are about 2,380 building inspectors in Pennsylvania who enforce the Uniform Construction Code. In 2007, there were 3,123.
The trainee classification system proposed by Delozier would be structured much like systems employed in architecture and engineering. A current certified code official would agree to assume “responsible supervision” of a trainee.
While under supervision, the trainee would be working in the field and performing plan reviews.
“Since participation in the trainee program will be optional, we are confident this bill places no new regulatory burdens on currently certified building code officials,” Wise said.
This is not a partisan issue, Delozier added. “This is something that is just good for jobs.”