On-Site Inspections

Coordinate special inspections/observations PRIOR to start of construction.
Calling after the work is completed is too late.

Connor Daly
San Rafael, CA


For San Francisco Projects

What is a Special Inspection and Structural Observation?

Special Inspections (SI’s) and Structural Observations (SO’s) are in addition to the inspections done by a City Inspector.

SI’s & SO’s are associated to each project during permitting by a City Plan Checker, Engineer or Architect.

Purpose is to require a non-governmental third-party to inspect critical aspects of the construction prior to covering up the work.

What Special Inspections and Structural Observations do I need to complete for my project?

Some projects will have quite a few SI’s and SO’s while others may not have any.

The official list of SI’s and SO’s should be noted on the approved drawings or documents.

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

The SI’s and SO’s noted on the plans is 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

In those cases where the online database does not match those listed on the approved plans contact Barringer Design. Please note that if Barringer Design is hired to complete the SI’s and SO’s we will find these mistakes immediately.

Who does the Special Inspections and Structural Observations?

We highly recommend you first call Barringer Design as as our fees are less than that of most third-party testing agencies.  However, it isn’t that simple. There are some inspections Barringer Design cannot do and a third-party testing agency is required and then there are some inspections that only the Engineer of Record can do.  Each project is different – best to call Barringer Design first.

San Francisco approved third-party testing agencies – Full list of San Francisco DBI Approved Testing Agencies

When do I schedule these Inspections?

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 covers the hole and what type of epoxy was used);
  • Before adding plywood;
  • Before adding gypsum board (which covers framing, plywood, insulation, electrical, plumbing);
  • There are many more and you need to know them before you start so you have a plan…

What happens if the Special Inspections and Structural Observations aren’t or weren’t done?

After the inspections are completed your third-party testing agency and/or Barringer Design will email in their reports to the City. If this doesn’t happen….

You won’t be able to schedule a final inspection.

You won’t be able to close your permit.

Permits not closed will eventually result in the City revoking and canceling the permit.

Checking the Online Database

San Francisco Permit Tracker

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

No SI’s or SO’s are required.


12 SI’s and/or SO’s are required.


7 SI’s and/or SO’s are required and they are DONE.

Clicking on Show Site Permit Details Button

None of the SI’s or So’s are closed.

ALL of the SI’s or So’s are closed.