Dive Brief:

  • A new law in New Jersey allows developers to contract with private onsite inspection agencies if local construction officials cannot complete an inspection within three days of the requested date.
  • The ultimate approval and final sign-off on a certificate of occupancy will still come from local construction officials, said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in a press release. The law applies to both commercial and residential projects.
  • This brings New Jersey in line with several other states, such as Florida, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia, among others, where third-party inspections supplement government inspections. The law will go into effect immediately upon the adoption of the rules and regulations by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs.

Dive Insight:

The move provides local governments with several avenues to speed up the construction permitting process, according to the release. For instance, the law also includes a more streamlined bidding process to contract with private inspection agencies or enter into shared services agreements to consolidate work among multiple municipalities, according to the release.

The Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey, a statewide trade association representing union general building contractors, construction managers and utility contractors in New Jersey, heavily advocated for the allowable use of private construction inspections for the past decade, said Michael Travostino, government affairs director at the ACCNJ.

“The pandemic taught us lessons about the effectiveness and expediency, or lack thereof, within local governments,” said Travostino. “If a local inspection department cannot conduct a construction inspection within 72 hours of a formal request, then a third-party option in a post-pandemic world is more than fair.”

In New York City, nearly 90% of active construction sites visited by the state comptroller’s office in the summer of 2022 had safety issues, according to a September report from the NYC Department of Buildings.

The law still requires a potential third-party construction inspection firm to keep local enforcement agencies informed throughout every step of the private inspection process, said Travostino.

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