Building inspectors are your friends, and if they find something wrong with a project you are working on, it is because they are doing their jobs, and it is nothing personal. Not only are they there to help you when you are working on your DIY home building or remodeling, but they point out things that you are doing wrong, to keep structures sound, and make sure that everything is safe. They know much more about codes and zoning laws than you do, and without their expertise, problems are more likely to occur.
While a building inspector and a home inspector have similar jobs and qualifications, they are two very different people. For building inspectors, they are in charge of making sure that buildings and home additions are done properly (ie. built to code). They are involved in all aspects of construction, from electrical, to structural and everything in between.
For example, if you are wiring your addition or new home, they will make sure that the wiring is of proper gauge for the electrical load. They will make sure there are enough breakers installed, and you aren’t trying to hook up 100 amp service when it should be 200, or maybe 400 (make sure to check out Basic Electrical Safety). They will also insist that you have everything tied into the existing power grid right, so there isn’t a short or electrical fire hazard.
This is also where a building inspector and a home inspector differ. A home inspector makes sure that your existing wiring is up to current standards and codes. They make sure that your existing home is all right, has no mold problems, insulation violations, or any structural defects. They will also identify any roofing problems, leaks, water damage, foundation defects, and excessive wear and tear that needs to be replaced.
A home inspector will make sure your house is in good condition, and ready to sell to the next person. Very often a certified home inspection is required for a buyer to qualify for a home loan; the bank or credit union wants to know that the home is of reasonable quality.
A building inspector will help you make sure that any building projects you do are correct the very first time, so there are no worries later. A building inspector can teach you how to do your DIY projects right the first time (although your really need to be educated ahead of time and make your best effort to build to code from the start).
When you apply for your building permit a building inspector will automatically be assigned to your project. This is a person that is generally certified to inspect homes and has a deep knowledge base as to modern building codes. Even though they’re not there to teach you how to build your house to code, most are more than willing to give you some slack in re-doing a portion of your project before they sign it off.
And, in my experience, if you bake them cookies a time or 2 they’re very agreeable to slowing down a bit and answering your questions. The building inspector is there to help you do it right, not to catch you doing wrong so a fine can be slapped on at a moment’s notice. They really are your friend in building a safe and sound dwelling that you and your family (or others) will live in for decades to come.