Elizabeth Boozer installed a set of security cameras outside her Largo town house because she worried about crime creeping into her Tall Pines neighborhood.
What her cameras captured worries her more.
Boozer's video shows that Largo building inspector Glenn Hall, who was to conduct a final inspection of her new roof, signed off on the inspection without climbing a ladder to check out the work.
"He cannot make an accurate analysis of what's going on with the roof, whether it's a good roof or a bad roof, from the sidewalk. There's no way," Boozer said.
The video shows Hall spent a total of eight minutes on site — five minutes in his vehicle and only three minutes in the side yard — before approving the final inspection on Sept. 26.
"There are other homes in Largo. I mean how many times has this happened over and over again?" Boozer asked.
The inspector violated city procedure, said Carol Stricklin, Largo's community development director.
"You cannot inspect a roof from the sidewalk; our procedure would require that the inspector go on the roof and perform that inspection," Stricklin said.
Inspectors conducting roof inspections from the sidewalk or even their cars is an ongoing problem in Florida, said Mark Zehnal, director of technical services for the Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association.
"You can't make an inspection from the ground," said Zehnal, whose association helps write Florida building codes.
In a state like Florida, where hurricane Andrew taught building officials costly lessons about making roofing safer, contractors have a responsibility to follow building codes, and inspectors are a line of defense for homeowners, Zehnal said.
"That's what the inspector's there for — the health, safety and welfare of the public. So if there's an inspection that's required, that inspection really needs to be done, that's what the service is being paid for," Zehnal said.
As soon as Boozer informed the city that Hall didn't climb the roof, the chief building inspector went out to check the work, Stricklin said.
"We're very disappointed in what happened, and when we learned of it, we did sit down with that individual and counsel him, as well as provide a refresher and additional training to the team to ensure that our procedures are being followed at all times," Stricklin said.
A review of Hall's evaluations, shows he meets or exceeds the city's standards. There is no disciplinary note in Hall's file. The city's disciplinary process starts with counseling, Stricklin said.
Largo's chief building inspector approved the final inspection of Boozer's roof but admits there are no written records or notes that document whether he even went out to see Boozer's roof.
Largo has no proof its inspectors actually climb onto roofs and follow city procedures during their inspections.
"We have trained personnel, and we have to have faith in our inspectors, so we do monitor them and follow up in the field," Stricklin said. "We expect them to do their job, and we hold them accountable when we find that that has not occurred."
None of this is sitting well with Boozer.
"I was incredulous that someone would come out and sign off on something without ever having taken a visual, a look at it," Boozer said.
Three weeks earlier, another Largo inspector postponed the final inspection because the contractor did not leave a ladder for him to gain access.
"In my opinion, if you're going to get a roof inspection, I think you would have to go on a roof," Boozer said. "I mean, that only makes sense to me."