To schedule an on-site inspection text or call….

Connor Daly
San Rafael, CA

Preferred times
San Francisco – Monday & Wednesday 10am to 2pm and usually Fri 10am to noon
Marin County – Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday 10am to 2pm and usually Fri 10am to noon


If calling to schedule Special Inspections or Structural Observations (SI’s)

  • Coordinate and schedule special inspections/observations (SI’s) with Barringer PRIOR to start of construction.
  • Calling after the work is completed is too late.



If you don’t know what a special inspection or structural observation is, then continue reading.

When do I schedule SI’s?

  • Contact your third-party testing agencies and/or Barringer Design to create a plan prior to starting construction.
  • In general, you need to schedule an inspection with the City AND your third-party testing agency prior to covering up any work.


  • Before pouring concrete (which covers the rebar and size/depth of footing);
  • Before installing epoxy anchor bolts (which both covers the hole and prevents verification of what type of epoxy was used);
  • Before adding plywood;
  • Before adding gypsum board (which covers framing, plywood, insulation, electrical, plumbing);
  • There could be more, so have a plan before you start construction.

What are Special Inspections or Structural Observations (SI’s)?

  • Purpose of SI’s is to require a third-party testing agency or engineer of record to inspect critical aspects of the construction prior to covering up the work.
  • City inspections do not qualify as SI’s.
  • SI’s are associated to each project during permitting by a City Plan Checker, Engineer or Architect.

Why do we need to complete the SI’s?

  • All SI’s must be completed in order to close the permit and obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.
  • The intended purpose is to provide an additional layer of safety by ensuring that the work was done according to the plans and to Code. A brief history can be found here.

What happens if the SI’s aren’t done?

  • You won’t be able to schedule a final inspection. You won’t be able to close your permit. Permits not closed will eventually (usually takes many years) result in the City revoking and canceling the permit.

The City did a lot of inspections so doesn’t that mean we are good?

  • NO. Your local building department will never do an SI. SI’s must be completed by a third party testing agency and/or the engineer of record.  SI’s are in addition to the City inspections.

Why can’t the SI’s be completed after construction is completed?

  • Many of these inspections are time critical in that they are costly, if not impossible, to inspect after the work is completed and covered up.
  • Verify what SI’s need to be completed and who is doing them prior to starting construction.

What SI’s do I need to do?

  • SI’s should be indicated on the approved plans, however, the format for presenting this information varies between jurisdictions.
  • Some projects will have quite a few SI’s while others may not have any.
  • In San Francisco, the standard practice is to embed the City’s 11×17 form onto the full size structural plans (though it can also be stapled to the plans). The Special Inspection form lists ~25 discrete inspections with a check box next to each one.
    11×17 Special Inspection Form
  • In San Francisco, the SI’s noted on the plans are supposed to match those indicated in their online database. However, SFDBI only cares about what is noted in their database and occasionally mistakes are made inputting the data.
    Online San Francisco Permit Tracker
  • If unsure, contact your local building department.

Who can do the SI’s?

  • We highly recommend you call Barringer Design first and we will guide you through this process.
    • Some of Barringer’s clients that called third-party testing agencies instead of Barringer have had issues.  While the third party agency did many of the inspections they failed to mention to the client that they don’t do all of them leaving the client understandably gobsmacked at this failure when trying to close the permit and get on with their life.
    • Every project is different so it isn’t possible to write an answer for who can inspect your specific SI’s. Best I can do is provide a high level view of possibilities…
      • Maybe you just need the the engineer of record. They can do many of the special inspections and most of the structural observations.
      • Maybe you just need to hire a third party testing agency. They should be able to do all of the special inspections but usually don’t do any structural observations.
      • Maybe you need three different people: the third party testing agency to do some lab tests, the engineer of record to do a few structural observations and your soils engineer to do the other structural observations.
  • Full list of San Francisco DBI Approved Testing Agencies

How much does it cost?

  • Barringer’s fees are here.
  • Third party agencies can be anywhere from $500 to $2000 per inspection or item.
  • Soils engineers can charge even more. I recommend getting their fees in writing for any potential soils inspections before hiring them to do the soils report.
  • Your inspector, whoever it is, should tell you before they start.

I did everything right, why hasn’t the City closed my SI’s?

  • Usually one of three things.
    • Some third party agencies do not send their reports to the City. Forward their reports to Barringer and we will file them.
    • There was a misprint on the form, typically the address or permit application number. Check the paperwork and resend if any errors are found.
    • Building departments are slow. Call them and find out what is taking so long.


Checking the San Francisco Online Database

Click here and search for your property. San Francisco Permit Tracker


Below are some examples of what you see and what they mean.

No SI’s are required.


12 SI’s are required and none are completed.


7 SI’s are required and they are all completed

If you click on “Show Site Permit Details” button you get detailed information on each SI.

None of the SI’s are completed.

ALL of the SI’s are completed.