A Day in the Life of Aspen Field Inspectors Using Clariti

August 26, 2022

Before implementing Clariti (then BasicGov) in 2019, the City of Aspen, Colorado, relied on very basic legacy permit software that had run its course. There wasn’t much maintenance or follow-up, staff were swamped with admin work, and on the rare occasion there was a scheduled system update, it would turn out to be more of a downgrade than an upgrade.

Screen Shot 2022-08-26 at 11-28-03 AMAspen Field Inspectors Steve Feder (left), Brandon Cline (center), and Ric Bennett (right).

Steve Feder, a building inspector that’s been with the city for 15 years, knew there had to be a better way. The inspections team was spending at least 1.5 hours each day copying and pasting information from emails and voicemails into the scheduling software, and even the tiniest mistake in data entry could lock up the entire system. Not to mention the time staff spent trying to locate paper plans.

“We had rolls on rolls of paper plans in bins, and when we’d go to look up a permit in the system, it’d say that the plans are in bin 41. Then you’d go to that bin and they wouldn’t be there. Someone had moved it or taken it to their desk and forgotten to put it back. It was a bit of a nightmare.”

- Steve Feder, Building Inspector, City of Aspen

The reality was - the system had reached the end of its life. So, the city set out to replace it with a new do-it-all platform for community development that would dramatically reduce administrative time.

Fast forward to today using Clariti, and inspectors Brandon and Ric can’t imagine doing their job any other way.

“Listening to Steve talk about the old ways, Brandon and I wouldn’t have wanted to be here then. Not without the permitting system we have. It’s so streamlined, and it just makes everything a million times easier.”

- Ric Bennett, Electrical and Combination Inspector, City of Aspen

Essentially, the city’s Community Development Department completely transformed their processes with Clariti, and almost everything has moved online. Now, there’s more time for staff to focus on their most important tasks like inspections in the field, and overall it’s a far better day-to-day experience.

For inspectors Steve Feder, Ric Bennett, and Brandon Cline, a typical day now looks a lot different. There’s a lot less time spent on admin work, and a lot more time spent on plan reviews and inspections.

After getting into the office at around 6AM, the team signs in to the system first thing to bring up the list of inspections for the day, and then after a quick chat about who’s going to take what inspection, divide up the day’s to-do list.

“We can go in, look at the list of inspections, and change each requested inspection to scheduled with a click. Then we can each take ownership of individual inspections with just another click. What used to take 1 to 2 hours in the morning is done in 15 minutes”

- Steve Feder, Building Inspector, City of Aspen

Once that’s done, they’ll head out to start the day’s itinerary - usually 6 or so 30-minute inspections each depending on the complexity of the project.

Then, once on-site, the team can pull up permit information (including on any sub-permits attached to the master), check plans via the Clariti-Bluebeam integration, and even complete inspections right on their phone or tablet. 

“Brandon and I use tablets a lot in the field. We don’t always close out inspections because we prefer to have 2 screens in front of us and a mouse, but we use it as a research tool in the field probably 50% of the time.”

- Ric Bennett, Electrical and Combination Inspector, City of Aspen

Ric Bennett (right) explains how the team utilizes tablets in-office and in the field.

Of all the efficiency gains though, the improvement of the end-to-end inspections scheduling process and the ability to pull up plans with the click of a mouse have been the biggest game changers, according to Steve.

“Having all the plans electronically - to be able to click the project ID in Clariti and automatically gain access to the plan set in Bluebeam - is life changing I would say.”

- Steve Feder, Building Inspector

All in all, it’s a completely different - and far more efficient - end-to-end inspection process than before. 

Of the city’s roughly 4000 yearly inspections, 99% happen on the day requested by the customer (even if it was requested the night before); there’s far more time for the inspectors to do research on a project and be out in the field; and as an added bonus, the team now has the option to work from home.

Summed up as advice for other field inspections teams looking for ways to be more efficient: 

  1. Implement online inspection scheduling - it can free up hours of staff time each day.
  2. Leverage electronic plan review that staff can access with a click - it's a “game changer.”
  3. Select the right electronic permitting system that's easy to use and can automate the time-consuming admin work - it frees up more time to do essential pre-inspection research and be in the field.

“Clariti has been very, very helpful, and has created a much more relaxed environment for us as a field inspections team.”

- Steve Feder, Building Inspector, City of Aspen

To find out more about Clariti's inspection functionality for building and community development departments, check out this page or this feature sheet

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