Local builders, electricians, plumbers and others who want to move ahead with their projects during the coronavirus crisis will be relieved to see that Wellesley has begun moving to remote building inspections. The town had temporarily banned non-emergency interior inspections.
We’d started to hear from builders who were hoping Wellesley and other communities would come up with innovative ways to allow inspections to be conducted without putting inspectors in harm’s way. After all, many of those involved in the building process are small businesses, just like restaurants, retailers and others that have rallied town and community support. While this spring real estate season might not be like any other, low interest rates and projects already near completion give hope to those in the market.
The town’s Board of Heath put the kibosh on non-emergency interior inspections on March 19, though said on March 25 that it was looking for alternative approaches in light of the state’s guidance that such work falls under essential services.
“I have never known an inspector to touch or handle anything while doing an inspection,” says one contractor I reached out to about this topic over the weekend. “There is no reason any one needs to be within six feet of anyone else.”
The new Wellesley rules (embedded below) require inspections to be held via FaceTime, Skype or via submission and review of photographs.
Among those hoping the town would find a “sensible workaround” that would ensure safety but allow work to proceed was Marc Charney, a Wellesley-based realtor and builder. As he explained, 6 to 10 inspections might be required per project, so the inability to get one could stop a project anywhere along the way, from the foundation to insulation to electrical stages. “This was going to grind things to a stop and have devastating consequences on our local housing market,” he says.
Charney hoped that a solution might at least be found for unoccupied properties, even if they had to be quarantined for a couple of weeks before an inspection.
“Housing in Wellesley is an extremely important part of our local economy and I think it is very important that the community at large support this segment and the small business owners who” take part in it, Charney says.
The town won’t mind renewing its collection of fees from contractors either…