Self Inspect vs Builder Inspect

site-inspectionTo be worth anything, work scopes require someone to verify the work was performed to specified standards. There are a different ways of accomplishing this.

Builder Inspect

With the Builder Inspect system, the builder typically requires a site supervisor or project manager complete a site-ready checklist prior to commencement of work by the subcontractor. This assures previous work is complete to standards and ready for the contractor to start work. Inspections by the builder’s rep are ongoing during the sub’s time on the site. Upon completion of the work, typically, the builder’s rep will meet with the sub to do a work scope inspection. The work scope inspection will often generate a punch list which the sub must complete before the invoice will be paid.

A Builder Inspect scopes system will require the added step of creating a work scope for each of your staff who is involved in the construction and invoicing processes.  The employee work scopes will spell out what actions that are expected of them; who does what, when, where and how. Employee work scopes create accountability among your team members.

The benefit of a Builder Inspect system is the builder has to accept the work before the sub gets paid. This can lead to a better constructed product, less material waste, fewer punch list items, higher customer satisfaction and reduced warranty costs. It also provides a means to review the efficiency of the site supervisors and project managers.

Drawbacks of a Builder Inspect system are that quality site supervisors and project managers capable of proficiency in conducting all site inspections is expensive overhead. (Likely worth every dollar, but never-the-less an expense.)

A second drawback comes to mind in a scenario where a shrewd sub meets up with a less than qualified site supervisor. Occasionally you’ll  find a sub that can talk their way around being written up. Let’s say the supervisor complies and does not write up the deficiency, almost always, one of the next trades in will notice.  The next thing you’ll hear is “Why do I have to comply when they don’t?!”

Once the system is compromised, it is hard to regain full control. Everyone on the team must be full in, 100% committed.

Self Inspect

With a Self Inspect work scopes system, the sub is asked to complete the site ready checklist by checking specific items from the previous trade’s work. The builder’s rep still inspects ongoing work, but the sub must inspect their own work and submit a completed work scope checklist with their invoice.

At first this sounds like letting the inmates run the asylum, but the reality is much different. Here’s why. Many subs like to critique (read criticize) the work of others, so they are very willing to let the builder know if the job was ready for them. Most subs are also aware they work in a “glass house” and however they judge, they also will be judged.

Benefits of a Self Inspect work scopes system is it requires less overhead for supervision while it still can lead to a better constructed product, less material waste, fewer punch list items, higher customer satisfaction and reduced warranty costs.

The drawbacks of a Self Inspect system are clear; the inmates are running the asylum! Every sub should be proud to inspect their own work before they leave the job. That’s what I tell them when I when we meet to discuss work scopes. No one  has ever disagreed.  But what you can count on happening is the checklists will be filled out when the invoice is written up and not on site as the job is finished.

Things will get out of control without qualified field inspections by the builder. This is especially true when it comes to site readiness. Subs want to make money, and they can’t do as well if the preceding work is not complete or correct. A builder can only know the readiness for the next trade by knowing the completeness of the preceding trade.


Both systems can produce the same benefits of a better constructed product, less material waste, fewer punch list items, higher customer satisfaction and reduced warranty costs.

Which system you implement will be determined by the way you are accustomed to doing business with your subs.  One of these systems will have more appeal than the other.  You can always create a hybrid system where some trades are Builder Inspect and others are Self Inspect.

The key is always going to be how the builder follows up and enforces the work scope rules.

Contact Paul

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲