LNN has fielded multiple complaints from contractors regarding a township inspector. Allegations range from erratic, selective and punitive enforcement of the code, to unusual ethnic remarks about Jews. Is there a connection between his errant failings and insensitive comments, or is this a case of a rookie inspector?
Building codes are defined by the state, and individual townships are tasked with enforcing them. As part of that responsibility, inspectors must cite the code for which they are failing a property, to allow the applicant to clearly identify and correct the problem, and appeal mistakes. However, on numerous occasions, inspector Dave Ferguson has not been able to provide a code reference for his citations. “I opened the codebook and showed him what it said,” one contractor reported. “The work was up to code as far as the book stated,” and he did not cite the code for which he was failing the inspection. The contractor was forced to perform what appeared to be extra work to placate the frustrated homeowner.
In another instance, Mr. Ferguson made numerous comments to a contractor about keeping up with the volume of ‘Jewish building’ in Lakewood. Apparently, he did not realize the contractor was Jewish, and he later asked this contractor directly what religion he was. Whether that is an appropriate question for an inspector to ask or not, is a separate discussion. However, the contractor notes, “He got very quiet after I answered and told him I was in fact Jewish.”
In addition, there are other documented events where Ferguson is not performing according to the accepted standards. At a first inspection, it is generally assumed that the inspector will identify all the issues which need to be corrected. This helps keep the job moving and also prevents bilking the taxpayer for additional reinspection fees or other time associated costs of construction overhead.
Ferguson has reportedly added considerably to the list of infractions in second and third inspections. The issues were not new and could have easily been identified the first time. This is unusual because it can significantly delay job progress which has the possibility of adding a lot of overhead costs.
LNN raised concerns regarding the inspector with township officials. One told LNN that Ferguson is a relatively new inspector, and that it is not uncommon for inspectors to experience a learning curve regarding the “flavor and nuances” of a township. That may not excuse all of the unusual behavior being reported, but could be a possible answer to some of it. Numerous contractors stressed that their only interest is in having a fair-minded inspector. “No one is looking to cut corners here, we just need a fair and clear minded approach, which unfortunately this inspector has not adjusted to yet,” one told LNN.