Municipalities adopt new building inspection rules during COVID-19 pandemic
'We wipe down our vehicles after each inspection, I've never had such a clean car'
Municipalities across Nova Scotia have adopted new protocols for building inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Construction is still allowed under the province's state of emergency and most projects need five to seven inspections. On-site visits are still taking place, but under very different conditions.
"We only do inspections with one person in the building at any given time," said Mike MacKenzie, senior building official for the Municipality of the County of Pictou. "Before, there could have been multiple people on site, so that's a big change."
MacKenzie said his office is only doing inspections on Tuesdays and Thursday and each one has to be booked two days in advance.
Any site that is already occupied cannot be inspected. Inspections will also be deferred if anyone on the construction site has travelled out of the province in the previous 14 days, or if anyone who has been on the site is currently in isolation.
"We also don't travel together and we wear rubber gloves," said MacKenzie. "We wipe down our vehicles after each inspection. I've never had such a clean car."
According to MacKenzie, his office has done about a dozen inspections under the new protocols. One inspection had to be cancelled because the building was already occupied.
Building official can refuse to do inspection
The Halifax region has also been working under new protocols since March 20.
According to a Halifax spokesperson, all building officials are working from home. The inspector is the only person allowed on site during an inspection, with the exception of one representative if they are deemed acceptable.
"The building official will have the right to refuse another person being present, or to refuse to conduct the inspection," spokesperson Brynn Budden said in an email.
Since the protocol was adopted, Halifax building officials have completed 616 inspections.
Some municipalities, such as the towns of Lockeport and Shelburne, have posted that "urgent building inspections" will be prioritized and completed during the pandemic.
In Kings County, no on-site inspections will be conducted "due to emergency measures in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19."
According to the municipality's website, builders should call about "new alternative inspection requirements."