Brunswick County Code Administration became the first county in North Carolina to offer Remote Video Inspections (RVIs) in late 2018.
Initially, the RVIs were offered for residential mechanical change-out inspections, such as replacing an HVAC heating and air conditioning unit. The service has since been expanded to include other simple types of inspections, such as gas or water piping outside the home. As the service is used more and officials continue to assess and evaluate the program, it has the potential to continue to expand, Code Administration Director Michael Slate said.
Using video conferencing/video messaging technology, a contractor on a job site is able to call an inspector in the Brunswick County Code Administration office and walk the inspector through the job site. The inspection starts at the front of the house so the inspector can verify the house and address numbers, and then the inspection proceeds like it would if the inspector were there in person. Periodic quality control checks will help ensure the program is running as expected and help county officials evaluate its expansion to other types of inspections.
The technology allows inspectors to provide a better and faster service to contractors and homeowners, Slate added, while using taxpayer funding more efficiently.
A contractor replacing an air conditioning unit, for example, could use the video conferencing technology to have the unit inspected as soon as the unit is installed, instead of having to wait for staff to come back out at a later date for an inspection. If the work does not pass the inspection, the contractor has the chance to correct the work then and call back for another video inspection – work that, without the RVI technology, would many times require two or three additional trips for the initial inspection, fixing items that didn’t pass an inspection, and a second inspection.
It also aids contractors working on pipes outside the home with weather concerns, added Plans Examiner Kevin Somersett, who does many of the remote video inspections. For example, a contractor repairing a pipe outside the home in the winter can call for an inspection once the repair is finished, and then fill in the dirt around the pipe, without leaving the pipe exposed to freezing temperatures or other weather until an in-person inspection can be performed.
Doing remote inspections from a central location also allows Brunswick County inspectors to spend less time driving to different areas of Brunswick County, meaning more inspections can be done in a day while fewer County resources are spent on gas and travel expenses.
“This is going to be a huge cost savings, not only for the County but also for the public and contractors,” Slate said. “We’re starting small, with just change-out inspections, and as we grow into this we hope to move toward other inspections that we can safely do from a remote standpoint.”
“I am pleased and proud that with Michael Slate’s and Code Administration’s creativity and forward thinking, and with the support of the Board of Commissioners, Brunswick County continues to find ways to better serve the public while being good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” added County Manager Ann Hardy.