CSG Law Alert: Self-Help For Developers When Municipal Enforcing Agency Fails To Inspect

New Amendments to the New Jersey Uniform Contruction Code Act Allow Developers to Contract with Private Inspection Agencies

On January 5, 2023, Governor Phil Murphy signed, Assembly Bill 573 (“A573”), amending the New Jersey Uniform Construction Code Act (the “Act”), to provide for expedited construction inspections and the use of private inspection agencies. Prior to the amendments, developers were forced to compete for inspection time slots issued by municipal construction and subcode officials (the “Enforcing Agency”), causing unnecessary delays in construction activity. The amendments are intended to decrease both construction delays and project costs thanks to an expedited timeframe for Enforcing Agencies to conduct inspections and the option of developers to use private inspection agencies to perform the work.

Below is an overview of the key amendments to the Act:

  • 9 to 5…and beyond: All inspections are no longer limited to the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on business days and may be conducted at another time agreed upon by the developer, and the relevant inspection agency—be that the Enforcing Agency, the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (the “Department”), or a private inspection agency.
  • Three or less: When the work is ready for inspection, the developer shall provide at least twenty-four (24) hours’ written notice to the Enforcing Agency of the date and time when the developer is requesting an inspection and, in turn, the Enforcing Agency must complete the inspection within three (3) business days of such date.
    • If the Enforcing Agency cannot complete the inspection within three (3) business days of the date requested, it must provide written notice to the developer within twenty-four (24) hours of receiving the request for inspection.
    • The developer and Enforcing Agency may agree to a different date and time for the inspection, which shall be committed to writing.
    • If the developer and Enforcing Agency are unable to agree on a date and time for inspection, then, through written notice to the Enforcing Agency, the developer may choose to contract with a private inspection agency authorized by the Department to conduct the inspection.
  • Continuing inspections: Once a private inspection agency is authorized, the developer may choose to use it to conduct all subsequent inspections for the project.
  • Reconciliation fee: The Enforcing Agency shall, if warranted, reimburse the developer for the cost of the private inspection at the end of the project, if the private inspection was conducted as a result of a missed Enforcing Agency inspection.
  • Establishing a process: Each Enforcing Agency is required to establish a process for ensuring inspections are performed within three (3) business days, which may include the use of supplemental shared services agreements with other municipalities or Enforcing Agencies, or contracting with private inspection agencies.
  • Corrective action and penalties: The Enforcement Agency shall notify the Department within fifteen (15) business days of any instance where it is unable to meet a deadline or obligation under the Act, and in turn, the Commissioner of the Department may order corrective action or issue penalties to the Enforcement Agency, as may be necessary.

This legislation is an important win for the construction industry. It sets definitive timeframes for the Enforcement Agency to conduct inspections and provides developers with a remedy to hire private inspection agencies where the Enforcement Agency fails to act. Developers have suffered unnecessary project delays and costs due to the inability to obtain prompt inspections for far too long. Thankfully, with the help of this legislation, those days are in the past.

If you have questions or concerns about the new amendment to the Uniform Construction Code Act, please contact your CSG Law attorney.