An Overview of Philadelphia’s Special Inspections Program

An Overview of Philadelphia’s Special Inspections Program

Philadelphia Zoning has been guiding clients and projects through the Special Inspections Program required as per the Building Code.  Sometimes there is pushback, confusion, and questions regarding this program and how it affects a project, or wy and when it is needed.


What is the Philadelphia Special Inspections Program?


The special Inspections Program is a program designed to promote quality assurance in construction projects. It is designed to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of the public and uphold structural integrity.  After all, the buildings we build and the projects we develop are housing, entertaining, and feeding our citizens. The safety of the public is extremely important, and no corners should be cut when it comes to construction and demolition. This special inspection program acts as an additional barrier to entry for quality work and project standards.


Do I Need to Hire a Special Inspections Agency for my Project?


Not all projects and developments require special inspections.  You generally won’t need a special inspection if you are changing the use or conducting minor renovations.  It’s safe to assume that you will need a special inspector if your project contains demolition, structural and load-bearing work. However, the only way to confirm 100% if your project qualifies is to submit your application to Licenses and Inspections and see if it is required once it is reviewed.


How Do I Find a Special Inspections Agency or Special Inspector?


The City keeps a record of all approved special inspectors and special inspection agencies. You can search for them here.


What Exactly do I need to Submit with my Application for Special Inspections?


There are multiple forms that need to be submitted for the application to be complete.  The forms that you 100% need to submit to provide complete information for the special inspections information are:


The Philadelphia licensed General Contractor, the owner of the project, and the design professional in charge of the special inspections must all sign the duties and responsibilities form. Read below for logistical FAQs regarding this.


Other FAQs about the Philadelphia Special Inspections Program:


Q: Does the owner of the property or owner of the project need to sign the Special Inspections form?

A: The project owner needs to sign: So this may be the architect, property owner or tenant depending on the situation.


Q: I don’t have a GC on-board for this project yet. Will this hold back my permit being issued?

A: Technically, yes. The permit will not be issued until the GC is chosen and signs the agreement. However, you can submit the application to L&I without the GC’s signature so L&I can complete your review. Once the permit is ready for issuance, L&I will request the GC is confirmed and signs the form. It is not a reason to not apply and get the process moving.


Q: I do not have a Special Inspections Agency chosen yet. Will this hold back my permit being issued?

A: This answer is similar to the above question about the General Contractor.  You can submit the application and the review can be conducted without it. However, L&I will require the Special Inspectors information before they will issue the permit for pickup.


Here is a link to the City’s information about this program.


If you have more questions about this program and how it relates to your project, or if you need help ushering your project through the special inspections process, please reach out to us here!



Philadelphia Zoning is a private company whose mission is to:
EDUCATE about the esoteric and complex systems of permitting that affect us all;
EMPOWER the business owner, homeowner, and investor to make educated choices about their project;
EXECUTE dynamic permitting processes with ease, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Philly Zoning Team
  • Posted at 1:10 am, May 29, 2020

    What special inspections are required for single family construction?

    • Alexa Ahrem
      Posted at 8:17 pm, August 13, 2020

      That would have to be assessed case-by-case as it is a broad question! You can also check out the city’s special inspections website for more info.

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