Special Inspections

Click here to open a PDF version of this tip sheet.

Special inspections, as defined in the International Building Codes chapter 17 are inspections of construction requiring the expertise of an approved special inspector in order to ensure compliance with the code and approved construction documents.  Special inspections can be either continuous, where the special inspector is present when and where the work is being performed, or periodic, where the special inspector is only intermittently present.

When are special inspections required?

Special inspections are required either as designated by the building code, architect, engineer, geotechnical professional, or other design professional in the approved construction documents.  In addition, the Building Official may require special inspections for particular materials and systems he/she feels is necessary to show conformance with the codes.

How do I submit my special inspection report?

The special inspection report shall include the following information so that City staff can properly identify the project it is associated with and the type of inspection work performed:

  • Name of special inspection agency and/or special inspector.
  • Name of project – i.e. “XXX Warehouse”
  • Address of project.
  • City of Tacoma permit number. Note that this is the permit for which the construction documents have identified the special inspection.
  • Description of special inspection work – i.e. “Proprietary Anchors”.
  • Identification of whether the work “passed” or “failed” the inspection.

All special inspection reports are required to be submitted directly to your Building Inspector via email.  You should receive email contact information for your Building Inspector at your Preconstruction Meeting.  If not, you can contact us at (253) 591-5030 to let you know the inspector on your project.

The final special inspection report should also be uploaded into the ACA permit record.  To do this, follow the instructions below:

  1. Log into your ACA account. This login account must be tied to the ACA permit record as a contact person, owner, Architect, etc.. If it is not, please contact the permit center.
  2. Once you are logged in, locate the ACA permit record. Under “Record Info” click on “Attachments”.


3. Click on “Add Attachments”.

“Add Attachments”

4. Provide a description of the report using the following naming convention: “Final Special Inspection – (Agency Name)”. In place of the “Agency Name”, indicate the special inspection agency the report is from.

“Final Inspection”

5. Click on “Save Attachment”. Repeat these steps for each Final Inspection Report from different agencies.

Who can be a special inspector?

A special inspector, as defined in the International Codes is a qualified person employed or retained by an approved agency and approved by the Building Official as having the competence necessary to inspect a particular type of construction requiring special inspection. An approved agency shall be objective, competent and independent from the contractor responsible for the work being inspected.  The agency shall also disclose to the Building Official and the registered design professional in responsible charge possible conflicts of interest so that objectivity can be confirmed.

Washington Association of Building Officials (WABO) special inspection agency registration program provides building departments with a means for special inspection agencies and/or special inspectors to demonstrate competency to a consistent set of criteria as specified in the IBC, and establishes a roster that Building Officials in Washington can refer to determine if an agency or individual has met recognized criteria to perform special inspection the areas required.  The program provides registration in the following categories:

  • Reinforced Concrete
  • Pre-stressed concrete
  • Shotcrete
  • Structural Masonry
  • Structural Steel and Bolting
  • Structural Welding
  • Spray-applied Fire-resistive Materials
  • Lateral Wood
  • Code-Formed Steel Framing
  • Placement Inspector
  • Proprietary Anchors
  • Fire-resistant Penetrations and Joints

Individuals or agencies providing special inspection for categories not included in the WABO Registration Program, or for some other reason cannot meet the program requirements, must provide information as required to obtain approval from the Building Official to perform special inspections.  Other categories may include geotechnical inspection of soils or special retaining walls, construction materials and systems that are code alternatives, or unusual design applications of materials.


TacomaPermits.org: Resource Library

Translate »