Real estate owners and developers will finally have recourse when construction inspections are not timely performed. Governor Phil Murphy has just signed into law Senate Bill 3014/ Assembly Bill A573, which provides for expedited construction inspections under the Uniform Construction Code, N.J.S.A. 52:27D-124.
The new law provides rules for the timely inspection of construction projects and grants the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (“Commissioner”) new powers to compel compliance, order corrective action or issue penalties when an enforcing agency is unable or unwilling to meet its obligations.
N.J.S.A. 52:27D-124 revises the process for construction inspections, implementing a new expedited timeline and the right for homeowners and developers to utilize private inspectors, summarized as follows:
- The owner must provide twenty-four hours’ written notice to the enforcing agency that the work is ready for inspection. Thereafter, the enforcing agency is required to perform the inspection within three business days;
- If the enforcing agency is unable to meet the deadline, it is required to notify the owner, in writing, within 24 hours of receipt of the owner’s notice. The owner and enforcing agency may then agree to a different date;
- If the parties are unable to agree on an alternative date and time, the owner may elect to contract with an authorized private inspection agency following written notice to the enforcing agency;
- At the end of the project, the enforcing agency shall provide the owner with a fee reconciliation, if warranted, for the cost of the private inspection.
Each enforcing agency is required to establish a formal process to comply with the three-day inspection timeframe. To comply, each enforcing agency may enter into supplemental shared service agreements with other municipalities or contract with private inspection agencies that are authorized pursuant to the amendment. Municipal construction officials must also submit an annual report to the Commissioner detailing compliance with the code and listing the staff and expenses of the enforcing agency, at a minimum. The new law also grants the Commissioner the power to compel enforcing agencies to report their failure to meet deadlines.
The new law revises the process for construction inspections which has long contributed to delays and increased project costs during periods of intense construction activity. Now, private inspectors certified by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs will be available to supplement the limited supply of public inspectors. These changes should aid in keeping both homeowner construction projects and large developments on track.
The full text of the new law can be found here.