Book review: Building inspector’s memoir provides an insider look at the B.C. property industry

Building Inspector Memories

By Ron S. North (First Choice Books, Victoria, 2018)

$15.53 | 196pp

We talk a lot about the real estate bubble in B.C. these days, either lamenting the cost of housing or fretting fearfully about what will happen to the economy when the bubble bursts.

We don’t much think about the women and men who do the real work behind the metaphor. They are the carpenters, electricians, painters, labourers and plumbers, real estate agents, bankers, zoning officers and building inspectors et al, without whose work the metaphoric bubble would be nothing but an image.

Book cover of Building Inspector Memories. For 0316 book review north [PNG Merlin Archive]

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Building Inspector Memories provides a look inside the industry from the perspective of the author, Ron S. North, who worked as a building inspector, chief building inspector and manager of regulatory services in a career that spanned 1979 to 2018 on Vancouver Island.

North and his colleagues were responsible for examining construction projects to look for errors or omissions in the way plans and blueprints were being translated into concrete, rebar, foundation, frame and siding.

They were responsible for identifying contractors who cheat on basic safety regulations and substitute cheap materials for those specified in plans. Despite the hostility toward red tape that these unsung heroes and heroines have to endure, they provide vital quality assurance in construction. They also have some memorable adventures while providing this essential service.

North divides the book into short chapters and delivers his entertaining stories in a relaxed, conversational tone. We learn about the inspector who had an irate contractor remove the ladder he’d used to get on the roof and strand him there for what seemed like an eternity.

We learn about an instance when a builder wearing a hard hat, tool belt and nothing else greeted the inspector at the door, and we hear stories about inspectors who received angry notes from a building owner who signed his hate mail “The Son of God.” Other irate owners and contractors did not claim divine nature, but they did threaten the building inspector with guard dogs, shotguns and hammers.

The experience of reading Building Inspector Memories is a lot like going to the pub with a bright, voluble veteran inspector and hearing him reflect, mainly in laughter and whimsy, on the human …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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