From the time remodeler John Tabor began working on projects in Washington, D.C., he heard horror stories about long waits for inspections, failed inspections, and expectations of bribery. After one bad encounter 15 years ago when an inspector misinterpreted plans, shut down the jobsite, and threatened to call the police if the Tabor crew tried to unload a truck, the remodeler decided to find a solution.

The owner of Tabor Design Build, in Darnestown, Md., now preempts such delays by hiring a private inspection company to complete inspections. “How can you pay someone to stand around for two weeks and wait for inspectors?” he asks. The wait can be longer, Tabor says, if the inspector fails the company and the crew must wait another two weeks before the inspector returns for a follow-up inspection.

Tabor has to use an inspection company approved by the city, fill out a form, and pay a fee for using a private company. He says the city fee is less than $200, and the private inspection company charges $400 per inspection. Most jobs require three to four inspections. “It’s well worth it,” he says, noting that he includes the inspection fees as a line item in his estimates.

The private inspection company usually responds within a day and Tabor can set a time for the inspection. The city still requires that its inspectors review the soil and erosion control aspects of the job. Tabor says he has also used the private inspection company in Montgomery County, when that jurisdiction has a backlog of inspections.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.