City Turns Inspections Into A Growing Business

Have you ever wondered how many inspections the City of Manhattan makes? The answer is "Don't Know, but it must be plenty. The City Commissioners asked the staff to put together a report on the different inspections made by the City.

You would think the City would inspect new construction, restraunts and a few major things but they do more. How about: Inspect haunted houses, General housekeeping, Inspect temporary structures (tents), General periodic windshield inspection of areas throughout the city for problems?

Here is the Report:

Inspections conducted by or on behalf of the City of Manhattan

Fire Services

Code Services:

Standard Building Permit for a new building MAY include all of the following:

* Site Inspection (To make sure building will be built in proper location and contours are acceptable)

* Footing Inspection

* Foundation Inspection (includes steel and forms)

* Under Slab (plumbing, electrical and other utilities run under concrete)

* Sewer service

* Water service

* Framing

* Plumbing Rough In

* Electrical Rough In

* Furnace/Air Conditioner/Water Heater installation

* Gas Lines

* Sheet Rock installation (Correct thickness, number of layers, taping, etc.)

* Finish Plumbing fixtures

* Electrical service

* Roofing

* Fireplace

* Driveway and Sidewalks

* Final

* Erosion Control during construction

On remodels and small additions, many of these may not take place, only those relating to the work being performed.

Building inspections are only conducted after a thorough Plans Review to make sure that the building was designed to codes adopted by the City of Manhattan (as amended).

In addition, nuisance complaints are inspected. These include:

* Tall grass and weeds

* Snow not removed from sidewalks

* Inoperable vehicles on private property

* Trash in yards or improper trash receptacles

* Sump pump and roof drainage discharge

* Sofas on porches

* Deteriorated sidewalks

* Abandoned refrigerators

* Pool enclosures

* Trees obstructing sidewalks and alleys

* Structures in drainage easements (fences, buildings, sheds, etc)

Housing complaints that relate to the Maintenance of Buildings are investigated on a complaint basis or on the rare occasion at the owner’s request. Only one complaint is needed to initiate an inspection. Some inspections are initiated by Code Services when inspectors note exterior conditions that warrant further action.

A board of volunteers handles housing appeals with the assistance of a staff person.

Demolitions are inspected which this includes making sure the sewer was capped.

Many small jobs are inspected, such as small electrical changes, small plumbing jobs, and replacement of water heaters, furnaces, and air conditioners.

Hook-ups to utilities at mobile home parks are inspected when a mobile home is placed on a lot. Mobile home parks are inspected annually for licensing.

Applicants for Cereal Malt Beverage licenses have their properties inspected for back flow preventers, electrical and plumbing service and facilities, adequate egress, establishment of the occupant load, and general condition of the facility.

Code Services also does all of the licensing of contractors and tradespeople in the community. Tests are not administered by us, but are coordinated through our office and candidates are sponsored based upon meeting the pre-requisites. This includes applications, paying of fees, study materials, and review of test results and experience requirements.

Dangerous structures are inspected and condemned. This is a VERY lengthy process.

Fire Services

The Fire Inspectors conduct fire inspections in each business in the city annually, and inspect known apartment houses on an annual basis. The apartment houses are supposed to have half of the units inspected each year, but because of time constraints, a sampling of units is usually all that is inspected if things are looking pretty good. If problems are found in the sample units, then more and more will be checked. Commercial building plans and apartment house plans are reviewed by the Fire Marshal for compliance with the Fire Code as amended and adopted by the City of Manhattan. Fire inspections include, but are not limited to looking for the following:

* Adequate exiting facilities (Appropriate hardware, unlocked, accessible, unblocked, correct size and placement, signs and lights, etc.)

* Location and condition of fire extinguishers

* ? Location, maintenance and condition of alarm devices (smoke detectors, heat detectors, pull stations and other system devices).

* Maintenance of fire suppression systems (hood systems, sprinklers, etc).

* Electrical hazards such as overloaded circuits, extension cords, obvious faults, unapproved wiring, etc.

* Storage and use of combustibles and flammables

* Improper storage in mechanical rooms

* Maintenance of fire assemblies (walls, doors, ceilings and floor)

* Improper use of candles or other decorative devices

* Use and storage of Hazardous Materials

* Condition of mechanical equipment (installation, venting, etc.)

* Interior finish materials (flammability, installation, etc)

* General housekeeping (trash accumulation, storage, disposal, smoking, etc)

* Fire Department access to buildings and extinguishing systems

* Inspection of hazardous operations (fuel dispensing, spray finishing, welding or hot work, dust producing operations, etc.)

* Conduct and observe fire drills at fraternities/sororities and health care facilities.

* Inspect fireworks stands and displays to insure compliance with adopted codes.

* Inspect haunted houses to insure compliance with flame spread ratings, smoke detectors, emergency lighting, etc.

* Inspect day care facilities for licensing.

* Inspect temporary structures (tents) for location, flammability, exiting, extinguishers, etc.

Fire Prevention personnel investigate overcrowding complaints in assembly occupancies, and perform random inspections for overcrowding.

NOTE: One inspection service that you will not find on Code Services list that really should be there is roofing inspections on existing buildings. These projects should be inspected to ensure that not too many layers are left on the roof (danger of collapse if too many layers on), that flashing is installed correctly, that all nails are covered by shingles, that valleys are constructed properly, etc. There are so many roofing projects underway at any given time that a full time inspector would be needed for these projects. A decision was made several years ago to let roofing inspections fall by the wayside in favor of doing the water heater-furnace-air conditioning inspections.

Both Code Services and Fire Services conduct inspections for city licenses for bowling centers, and theaters.

Community Development

Zoning Inspections

* Certificate of Occupancy

* Planned Unit Development Landscaping (semi-annual)

* Planning Board & Board of Zoning Appeals conditions of approval on various types of developments

* Sign inspections

* Inspections/monitoring of construction sites, during the construction

* Bed & Breakfast Inns annual inspection

* General periodic windshield inspection of areas throughout the city for problems

* Landscaping and screening inspections as part of construction site

* Zoning Complaints

* Parking in front yard

* Too many units in a dwelling

* Building setbacks

* Too many tenants in a dwelling

* Sign installations without permit

* Business in residence

* Dumping in flood plain

* Business located in wrong district

Housing rehabilitation inspections

* Inspection of rehabilitation projects


The only inspection conducted by this department is cross-connection control/backflow prevention.

Public Works

Public Works conducts inspections on all pubic infrastructure projects constructed within the city. Vehicle Maintenance employees also conduct inspections prior to the awarding of licenses to refuse collectors.

Parks & Recreation

Forestry staff conducts hazardous tree inspections and inspects routes for the moving of houses through town. The Park Planner also conducts inspections on all CIP and in-house projects. The Animal Shelter conducts inspections as part of the license process for kennels.


Airport staff conducts quarterly inspections of aircraft fueling systems used by fuel vendors and daily inspections, which may reveal non-compliance with airport rules and regulations.

Riley County/Manhattan Health Department

The Health Department conducts the following inspections:

* Health nuisances such as infestations,

* Septic system and water well tests outside the city limits,

* Food safety, and

* Homes and centers engaged in childcare (required as per state law).

Inspections are conducted by Riley County Police Department for Airport Limo and Taxi Company licenses.