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.

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

Additionally, SI’s and SO’s may be found online.
Online San Francisco Permit Tracker

In some cases the online database may not match those listed on the approved plans. If this happens contact Barringer Design to help resolve.

Who does the Special Inspections and Structural Observations?

You can call one of the testing agencies listed here – Full list of San Francisco DBI Approved Testing Agencies

Also, Daniel Barringer can do most of the inspections and can assist in those we can’t.

When do I schedule these Inspections?

Contact your third-party inspection agency and/or Barringer Design to create a plan prior to starting construction.

In general you need to schedule an inspection prior to covering up any work. Contact both the City and your third-party inspection agency.


  • Before adding gypsum board (which covers framing, plywood, insulation, electrical, plumbing);
  • Before adding plywood (same as gyp);
  • 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).

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 Daniel Barringer 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.