The following is a contributed blog from VuSpex, one of Accela’s Preferred Tier Technology Alliance Partners.
This summer, the sun is shining on Florida’s new virtual inspection bill. The State is currently taking a step toward modernizing building inspections by passing a bill that officially authorizes and requires local government agencies to allow inspection requests to be submitted electronically, provide acceptable methods of electronic submission, and authorize enforcement agencies to perform virtual inspections.
Previously, there was no legislation taking a stance on electronic submissions and virtual inspections but due to the recent interest in adopting this new software technology it was time to make it official and recognize how virtual inspections can lead to great benefits for people in the sunshine State.
First, let’s get an understanding about virtual inspections, discuss the new Florida bill, and talk about existing integrated software solutions for Accela customers.
Read the full Blog post here:
The pandemic spurs change for building inspection operations
Most people think virtual inspections are a new technology, but they’ve been around for a while. VuSpex (pronounced VIEW-specks) was first to market with their Accela integrated virtual inspection app released in 2014 to help increase safety, efficiency, and reduce driving and waiting times for inspectors and contractors.
As a result of COVID-19, many building departments in Florida began performing virtual inspections in order to prevent a shut down and to protect the health and safety of building department staff, contractors, and property owners. In an April 2020 survey by the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, 20 percent of builders say their local building departments have started to allow virtual inspections recently, specifically in response to the current emergency.
How do virtual inspections work?
According to Florida’s House of Representatives Staff Final Bill Analysis for CS/CS/HB 667 Building Inspections:
Virtual inspections allow a building official or inspector to perform an inspection without having to be physically present at the jobsite. They also allow building departments to continue operating during the COVID-19 epidemic, which allows contractors to keep working.
Virtual inspections are more efficient than in-person inspections by reducing jobsite travel time, by allowing contractors to immediately request an inspection once they finish work, and by allowing the contractor to remain on the jobsite.
Virtual inspections are conducted by having the contractor or owner at the jobsite with a mobile phone or tablet equipped with a built-in camera. The building official or inspector calls the contractor or owner via video chat, and the building official or inspector directs the contractor or owner to allow them to view specific work.
VuSpex software goes a step further by allowing markups directly on the video and is fully integrated to the Accela Civic Platform.
What is Florida’s HB 667?
Current law neither specifically prohibits nor allows virtual inspections by building departments, but HB 667 is about to change that in favor of virtual inspections.
Florida’s new bill requires certain counties and enforcement agencies to allow requests for inspections to be submitted electronically; provide acceptable methods of electronic submission; authorize enforcement agencies to perform virtual inspections.
HB 667 has passed Florida’s House and Senate and is currently awaiting passage if approved by the Governor, these provisions take effect July 1, 2021. It is worth noting the bill passed with unanimous favor and is seen as a positive modernization bill for connecting, conducting, and completing inspections in a safer, more efficient way that ultimately saves time and cost for government agencies.
It’s an obvious win-win situation for Florida and cities like Miami who have seen an increase in building growth, much higher than other sectors, and whose counties such as Pasco, Polk, Brevard, and Martin have been pioneering frontrunners for adopting virtual inspections with Accela integrated solutions developed by VuSpex.
Are virtual inspections the new normal?
According to a webinar hosted by the International Code Council, it is clear, some building departments have indicated that they plan to continue using virtual inspections once the COVID-19 emergency is over. “I think we’re going to come up with some really efficient ways of doing business,” said Stephen Poposki, a building official in Cape Coral, Florida. “And this is the perfect time to do it.”
At VuSpex, our customers are telling us the answer is yes, virtual inspections are the new normal and are here to stay for many reasons, including our commitment and responsiveness to meeting our customers’ needs.
Who is using virtual inspections right now?
Use of virtual inspection software is seeing adoption in forward thinking states such as Florida, California, Oregon, and in more rural states like Montana due to the stark, efficiency related savings in vehicle costs and driving time, which more than cover the cost in getting started with a new virtual inspection program in the first year alone.
Who offers integrated virtual inspection solutions?
As an Accela Preferred Tier Technology Alliance Partner, VuSpex is fully integrated into Accela’s Civic Platform, allowing for a dedicated end-to-end workflow with VuSpex and Accela. Building officials and inspectors can launch a virtual inspection from within Accela, ensuring the best possible user-experience available on the market today.
Integration of the VuSpex AC Inspector dashboard with the VuSpex GO mobile app combined with Accela’s intuitive software provides a powerful workflow tool for inspectors and contractors to request & schedule inspections, conduct virtual inspections, create contractor field reports from any location, and result inspections while keeping everyone notified with the results.
To learn more about how Accela and VuSpex are empowering government agency efficiency, contact your Accela representative or Brad Pennington at firstname.lastname@example.org or (844) 288-7739.