Roanoke First City in Virginia to Achieve IAS Building Department Accreditation
On October 10, the city of Roanoke Planning, Building and Development Department—Building Inspections Division, became the first jurisdiction in the commonwealth of Virginia to achieve accreditation of its building department by the International Accreditation Service (IAS). Roanoke was accredited for providing its citizens with high quality permitting, plan review and inspection services.
“The IAS accreditation puts the Building Inspections Division in a strong position to be recognized as Virginia’s municipal leader in encouraging community development that is safe, attractive, environmentally responsible and economically vibrant,” said Jeffrey S. Shawver, C.B.O., Roanoke Building Commissioner. “We have been fortunate in receiving strong support from city management, the mayor and the city council, all of whom have a sincere desire to have a strong building inspections department. This all ensures the best possible service to our customers.”
“The City of Roanoke Building Inspection Division has proven its leadership in public safety and its commitment to providing the best possible service by becoming the first building department in the Commonwealth of Virginia to receive an IAS Building Department Accreditation.” said IAS President Chuck Ramani.
Roanoke covers over 42 square miles and has a population of almost 97,000, according to the 2011 US Census Bureau. The city is the center of one of Virginia's largest metropolitan regions, and a hub of transportation, finance and industry for the southwestern part of the state.
At the time of the IAS full on-site evaluation, the Division employed 10 full-time inspectors and one part-time inspector. From March 2011 to March 2012, the department conducted 11,856 inspections and issued 436 permits with plan review performed. The IAS Building Department Accreditation Program is based on the IAS Accreditation Criteria for Building Departments/Code Enforcement Agencies (AC251) and the Code Council’s International Building Code®.
Roanoke was assessed across 12 distinct categories of accreditation criteria including basic jurisdictional information, department staff, permitting, budget, construction codes, plan reviews, professional credentials/licenses, inspections, certificates of occupancy, on-site evaluations, annual reports, and complaints/appeals.
“Roanoke has demonstrated its commitment to public safety and customer service by implementing some very innovative practices,” said Ramani.
One example of the Division’s innovative practices is its program to apply Quick Response (QR) codes to permit placards for new building activity, allowing contractors and applicants to view the daily inspections calendar online via smartphones or tablets. The codes also link the customer to the Online Permit Center, where they can request inspections, view permit history and inspection results, as well as receive notification of required inspections to finalize the permit and complete the job. Roanoke’s “Technology Initiatives for Building Placards” program was recognized in September by Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation as one of the innovative government initiatives for its 2012 Bright Ideas in Government cohort.
IAS conducted a full on-site evaluation of the Building Inspections Division in May 2012. IAS evaluators assessed work activities in the department’s offices, reviewed documents and policies, and interviewed department customers, staff, and city officials. The IAS team also visited construction sites to appraise performance of the city’s inspection process. The IAS Certificate of Accreditation for the City of Roanoke, Virginia may be viewed on the IAS website.
A subsidiary of the International Code Council, IAS provides an independent assessment and verification that building departments operate at the highest legal, ethical, and technical standards. IAS accredits building departments and building department service providers, fire prevention and life safety departments, special inspection agencies, product certification agencies, inspection programs for metal building manufacturers, fabricator inspection programs, testing and calibration laboratories, inspection agencies, training agencies, curriculum developers, and field evaluation bodies. A recognized accreditation body since 1975, IAS is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation. IAS is one of the leading accreditation bodies in the United States and a signatory to several international mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs).