(1) - Is this a tool for plan check only? How will it impact the building industry?
Yes. Commercial Building Inspector will have a direct impact on the period in which construction plans are reviewed by plan reviewers. Thus, as a result, CBI will be a huge factor in freeing up some current plan review resources for the administrative aspect of the submitted application.
Several days of typical review time (manual review) have been reduced to a few hours. The process can be utilized in the design stage by engineers and architects to determine acceptable design elements prior to completion and submission of plans for review by the permit issuing authority. The automation of this process achieves a significant improvement in productivity and consistency in the planning and review process for the building industry.
(2) - How does this impact the role of the code official? Do we still need to check anything? Will a computer eliminate the need for plan reviewers?
The code official will still have authority for
code compliance checking. As long as the building information
are included in the software modules, or that designers submit
Commercial Building Inspector original file with their permit
applications that have been checked by CBI's Intelligent Review
Engine's then the code official is more likely to get complete
code compliance design documentation that complies with the code.
In one sense the code official may not have to spend as much time addressing designer questions related to applying the code, as submittals will have a higher probability of compliance and designers can interact with the project CBI file. This will save time, but the code official will still have to run the submitted file or check the output submitted by the designer and in the near term there will continue to be a number of code issues that will still have to be checked by hand.
Commercial Building Inspector should eliminate some of the more routine checking associated with prescriptive provisions in the codes. There will always be a need for plan reviewers and as construction volume increases then it may be possible for government agencies to handle increased workload without having to add more staff. Whatever resources are saved in plan review could be transitioned over time to conducting field inspections, which would further enhance building safety, or applied to addressing performance based designs, which can be superior in terms of cost and performance to designs following more prescriptive criteria.
(3) - This tool is most valuable when widely used by design professionals. How does OptaSoft make it available to them, at a cost, which both small (especially) and large Architectural & Engineering firms can justify in their project budgets?
The ramification of plan review delays can't be
ignored. Commercial Building Inspector cost is negligible considering
the detrimental financial impact due to delays in the proposed
construction starting date. As an owner, not meeting such date
will increase the project's overall cost and will increase the
ROI period in which will be a source of frustration for all concerned.
OptaSoft provides several options tailored to
meet the design profession community needs; One scenario is to
charge designers a nominal fee for access and use of CBI each
time a code check is done on a project (CBI on Demand). Another
is to allow unlimited use of CBI during a project or over a set
time period for a set fee (Subscription). Yet another option is
to purchase a site license that yields a minimum of 5 simultaneous
users without any restrictions.
(4) - How will OptaSoft address the local code requirements for different states and smaller jurisdictions?
The caveat to this question is that one must understand
the International Building Codes; cbi unique flexibility allows
the creation of a hyperlink to any section of the jurisdiction's
adopted code that has been amended on Local/State level to be
displayed in the Code Compliance Result Screen. This will force
the user not to over-see such code amendment and makes the management
of thousands of jurisdictions code amendments much easier to handle.
(5) - Will OptaSoft generate reports from the data that is entered in the system? If so will they make it available for others? Somehow - the information about building trends would be very useful.
No, OptaSoft business model is not to recommend
or suggest as other available systems. OptaSoft's plan review
application is not a database that collects information to be
shared among industry users for a subscription fee. Keep in mind
that our innovative solution is not a basic database driven solution
that stores and then prints!
Commercial Building Inspector generates a compliance status report which is a result of a smart building codes interpretation process that contains all user's entry. To track physical building information, you need to consider an Electronic Content Management System. This enables you to run analysis, generate reports, share and grant access to building trends information.
In order to share the compliance status report
(by email, project management system or any other electronic systems),
you can convert the report into a pdf format using a 3rd party
component. We have used AdobePDF for the past few years, and it
is proven to be a stable and reliable component.
(6) - Do you anticipate entering local amendments into the (Intelligent Review Engine) being
done by a computer programmer, code official, or clerical staff?
No, OptaSoft will do this task for a fixed fee and will store all code amendments on a remote server for accessibility.
(7) - What skill level would be necessary to use the software?
From a computer standpoint the skill level should be no different than using any standard Microsoft Office program. However, one will need knowledge of the building code usage and application and be able to understand plan review protocols that covers how to perform a plan review. The software does the work and the code official would review the output, make notes directly in the output file, etc. The level of computer knowledge should be comparable to using any Windows based application.
(8) - What level of computer knowledge will a code official need to incorporate and use Commercial
Building Inspectors? in their municipality?
The straightforwardness of the software leaves
little necessity for training. However, OptaSoft provides a
Freeware Edition that enables
users becoming familiar with the software, protocol and process
for creating code compliance status report.
(9) - How long will it take a municipality to fully incorporate Commercial Building Inspector
into their existing workflow?
The jurisdiction's amendments and number of users will drive the time to incorporate. On an average, this will probably take about a day including training and guidance.
(10) - Will OptaSoft continue to update the building code checking software as new codes are promulgated by a jurisdiction and/or when the national model codes change?
Yes. As long as being notified by the changes,
OptaSoft will continuously support and maintain any code updates
approximately 75% of the codes do not change from edition to
edition, and OptaSoft will simply need to identify and update
the remainder that does change.
(11) - How long will OptaSoft continue to support previous software editions of building codes? Will government agencies be forced to adopt newer versions of the software in order to be able to use Commercial Building Inspector?
Everything is accessible at any point in time;
OptaSoft software provides a simple mechanism to switch between
previously incorporated codes with a support strategy that combines
software subscription "upgrade protection" and remote technical
support in a single feature called Annual Software Support. Such
subscription ensures our customers always have access to the latest
version of their software and to remote technical support. Annual
Software Support can be purchased with any license acquisition
for all distributed software products.
OptaSoft corporate policy doesn't include or encourage
any practices to force any current/potential clients to use any
of our products. Our Annual Software Support package is strictly
optional and it is the sole discursion of the client to decide
whether to purchase or renew such maintenance package.
(12) - How fast can Commercial Building Inspector display the code compliance status report?
It depends on the computer's CPU speed and the amount of RAM included. The healthier the computer's specifications are, the faster the code compliance report is generated and displayed.
(13) - I lost my Internet connection shortly after I launched the software. Do I still display
the code compliance status report?
No, unfortunately, the software will terminate your session.
(14) - What are the technical requirements (i.e. internet bandwidth, Windows version, internet
browser, etc.) needed to use Commercial Building Inspector?
At all time, you need an Internet connection for license authentication only. This does not require high quality broadband to perform. But for best results in displaying actual code text and amendments, a high quality broadband dedicated T1 connection is recommended.
OS: Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000, XP, Vista and Windows 7, 8, 10.
Internet browser: IE 5.5 or higher.
(15) - Is there a special price when a new code software edition is released?
No, if you are an existing client with uninterrupted annual software support coverage, you'll be provided with unbroken access to all new releases, versions of your covered OptaSoft software and the newly released edition, as well as to OptaSoft's technical support staff.
(16) - I did not obtain software support coverage when I initially purchased the software, can I still obtain the newly published code software edition?
Yes. We strongly recommend that customers continuously renew their Software Maintenance coverage because it will provide them with unbroken access to all new releases and versions of their covered OptaSoft software and the newly released edition, as well as to OptaSoft's technical support staff. The cost of renewing Software Maintenance after it has lapsed is greater than keeping current.
A renewal order must be placed by the customer and received by OptaSoft before the anniversary date. This will ensure that Software Maintenance coverage is not interrupted and the customer will avoid the additional cost of having to buy a Software Maintenance Reinstatement, which is required if Software Support coverage lapses and needs to be re-established.
(17) - What do I get with the software maintenance coverage?
OptaSoft's software support strategy combines software subscription (upgrade protection) and remote technical support in a single feature called Annual Maintenance. To ensure our customers always have access to the latest version of their software and to remote technical support. Annual Maintenance can be purchased with any license acquisition for all distributed software products.
(a) - Authorization to use all new product releases (fixes, patches).
(b) - Authorization to use the newly product versions.
(c) - Access to unlimited email software support (excluding building code related issues).
(d) - Two phone calls for additional support (excluding review related issues).
(e) - Two-hour target for response time, contingent upon the severity of the issue.
(18) - Can I be notified before software maintenance coverage expires?
Customers will be notified of any pending Software Maintenance renewals approximately 90 days before the anniversary date and a quote will be sent to them by email. Software Maintenance renewals can then be purchased either directly from OptaSoft or through the customer's preferred OptaSoft reseller. Customers also have a choice in how to place their renewal order - it can be easily placed the "traditional" way (phone).
(19) - I am a small government agency and would like to purchase CBI, but I don?t have enough money allocated in this year budget. Can I obtain the software?
Yes, Purchase orders are welcomed to obtain short-term business credit line from OptaSoft. A payment arrangement must be structured first to process such request.
(20) - I finished using the trial software and I would like to purchase it. Do I have to wait till I pay
and then, receive a CD?
No, our innovative software license authentication technology allows us to convert the trial software edition into a full-working edition within seconds to prevent any business interruption. All what you have to do is to either email or call us with your purchase decision.
(21) - I am in a busy governmental agency and receives a lot phone calls with questions such as "Can I build?" How would CBI help me?
CBI's point and click application is user friendly, allowing you to enable or disable modules and their contents to be displayed in your code compliance status screen. Each module in the software is independent from others. On the other hand, at any giving point, you can obtain the compliance status only for the module that you're working with by clicking on the "Code Compliance Review" button.
Based on the subject matter that its being discussed, you can select the module that relates to your
discussion while you're on the phone and obtain the answer (multi-tasking).