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Columbus city inspectors lacking proper certification

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Columbus homeowner Chuck Handwork Columbus homeowner Chuck Handwork
A picture of the damage to Handwork's recently purchased home A picture of the damage to Handwork's recently purchased home
COLUMBUS, Ga. - City documents show that 6 of the 18 Inspection and Code employees that require certification regulated by the International Code Council (ICC), do not have the proper certification.

A Columbus homeowner says a home he recently purchased fell through the cracks as building inspectors missed damage he believes should have been caught. Chuck Handwork recently purchased a home that passed inspection and looked fine, but roof construction problems ended up causing $5,000 worth of water damage.

“In a seven-year home, to do the work that we had to do, that is unacceptable,” said Handwork.

Handwork says the problems are the builder's fault, who he won't identify because of a potential lawsuit, however, he says city inspectors should have noticed the issues.

“When I sent them the pictures that I had, their words were, 'We can't find everything, and we can't be held responsible for these. You need to go back to the builder,’” said Handwork.

The responsibility of home construction always falls on the builder because city inspectors cannot be on site for every part of a building's installation, including roof construction, a city inspector tells News 3. However, Handwork says it raises concerns about the inspection certification process.

Many inspectors in Columbus are hired from the private-sector, so they’re given a grace period of 1-year to get their ICC certifications. A few weeks ago, the city extended the certification deadline from one year to two years. City officials say this was because those six employees, who were hired within the past two years, had good performance reviews. The lack of certification has no negative effect on the quality of homes or the inspection process and all the building inspectors have their proper certification, according to city officials.

The issue was first raised by Council at a recent City Council meeting. Council brought up concerns about the extensions granted by the City Manager and the overall quality of work. The city says they are aware of the concerns and will discuss them at the next City Council work session, which is scheduled for July 10th.

Shane Wilson, the owner of Weather Shielders, specializes in roofing damage and has fixed a lot of homes that have roofing issues. When we showed him the pictures of damage to Handwork’s home, he says it looks like the builder’s fault. Wilson explains builders often hire inexperienced sub-contractors, who sometimes perform sub par work.

“We find a lot of problems where stuff's installed incorrectly,” said Wilson.

Wilson says city inspectors usually find the problems, but there are a few problems that go unnoticed. He believes the problem lies with the relaxed certifications required by the State of Georgia.

Handwork, who recently moved from California, a state with strict building restrictions, believes the process needs to be given another look at the local and state level.

"The home I just bought should have been done right the first time," says Handwork. "Something needs to change."

The International Code Council certification program is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious credentialing program for construction code administration and enforcement professionals in the United States. Click here to access the ICC Certification Search database, which contains information on individuals who may be certified with the International Code Council.

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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