Who’s at the door? Identifying City inspectors
Don’t be fooled by a door-to-door inspection scam
Are you renovating your basement? Altering the structure of your home? Changing a natural gas, electrical or plumbing system? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, City permits and inspections are required. Most inspections will be scheduled by the home owner or contractor.
But if someone knocks on your door and asks to inspect your home without an appointment, it may not be legitimate. Do not let them in. They are probably not from The City of Calgary or affiliated with us in any way.
We have received several complaints of door-to-door sellers claiming to represent government energy groups and asking to inspect your furnace or water heater to see if it’s safe and energy efficient. They will often come complete with orange vests, picture ID and clipboards of documents.
“Our Safety Codes Officer might visit without prior notice only in unique situations or when permits are nearing expiration,” says Kris Dietrich, Manager, Building Safety and Inspection Services. “We strongly advise carefully examining any identification provided by visitors to your residence. A thorough inspection of any ID from an unauthorized person would likely reveal clear inconsistences. Whenever uncertain, don’t hesitate to contact 311.”
Our Safety Codes Officers (SCO) identify themselves with a City of Calgary picture ID badge. Most of the time, they visit a home to verify that renovations, or additions, meet Alberta’s safety codes after a building or trade permit has been applied for.
“Unscrupulous scammers often use clever tactics, such as fraudulently claiming to be employed by The City or another reputable organization, to legitimize their claims while preying on the good will of seniors,” says Acting Duty Insp. Travis Juska of the Calgary Police Service. “Together, the Calgary Police Service and The City of Calgary are working to help educate seniors and those who are in regular contact with seniors about the red flags of door-to-door contractor scams. We strongly encourage seniors to ask questions of anyone who comes to their door, ask for and check identification, and know that it is perfectly ok to take extra time to verify claims by talking to trusted family members or friends.”
Occasionally SCOs will stop by a residence without an appointment to follow up on permits that are nearing expiry. In that case a SCO will identify themselves with their picture ID badge. If the SCO doesn’t identify themselves, the homeowner can ask for their identification. Other tips to ensure identification and credibility of a SCO include:
- Checking contact information: before or during the inspection a homeowner can contact 311 to confirm the SCO’s identity
- Inspect the vehicle: legitimate SCOs will drive vehicles marked with The City’s logo or department name
- Contact the Police: if you suspect the SCO is not legitimate or are behaving suspiciously you can contact the local police and report the incident
In the event of an emergency, a City SCO will visit without an appointment if:
- There is visible damage to your property
- Electrical or gas repairs are potentially required
Only a qualified, licensed contractor can make repairs before services can be restored safely.
Technical Assistance Centre
Our SCOs can provide information and technical assistance in relation to applicable Alberta Safety Codes, including building, electrical, plumbing, natural gas and propane. Many commonly asked technical questions can be found on calgary.ca/tac, along with an online inquiry form for additional questions.
Homeowners are responsible for ensuring permits are obtained and inspections are completed. To find out if you need a permit for your work or to check if any required permits and inspections have been completed at your address, contact our Planning Services Call Centre at 403-268-5311.
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