New DCRA Platform Connects Customers and Inspectors

Tertius Connects Customers to Third-Party Inspectors

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Ernest Chrappah, Director of the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), speaks at the Nov. 9 launch of the Tertius platform. Courtesy: DCRA

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) announced they will launch an online marketplace for construction inspections.

Called Tertius, the Latin word meaning ‘third,’ the system is designed to easily connect residential and commercial property owners and managers with certified and approved third-party inspectors.

“Think of Tertius as an online marketplace for construction inspections, with oversight from the regulator. Its innovative design allows us to speed up the timeline for a project and provide transparency into third party inspection processes,” explains DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah. “As a result, residents and businesses have wider options and improved customer service, and that is our top priority.”

Tertius provides direct customers with direct access to private inspectors, but for a fee. Customers create an account, identify their projects and accept bids from inspectors that are matched to their projects. DCRA says this results in ‘competitive’ prices from commercial inspection agencies. Customers can communicate with inspectors and pay for the inspection through the site.

The system costs each private inspection agency a platfrom fee amounting to 10 percent of payments received, to be used to maintain and upgrade the platform. DCRA said the system will provide more convenient options for customers, shortening the timeline to complete inspections. It also provides a platform to conduct and report inspection activity.

Homeowners are not required to use TERTIUS or third party inspectors. They can still go directly to DCRA’s website and use an agency-approved inspector. But there are so few of those that in 2019, DCRA initiated the Resident Inspector Program, a pilot program to train on-demand inspectors in an effort to meet demand.

DCRA said the system creates a more efficient platform to conduct and report inspection activity. It can streamline and speed up the process, reducing the time and effort it takes to complete inspection reports and get that information to customers and the agency.

“DCRA continues to lead in the development of transformative platforms that deliver better and faster service to our customers,” said DCRA Director Ernest Chrappah. “We think differently, are bold and innovative in our approach, and these products create better experiences for our customers.”

DCRA said that Tertius was created to present more options for customers. A third-party inspector is sometimes more readily available. Customers who value time and convenience over cost can choose from qualified inspectors at their convenience.

The agency was transitioning from paper-based to digital services well before the pandemic pointed the direction, saying they wanted to leverage technology to improve their operations. Tertius is only one of several new technological applications introduced since Chrappah,  that will make the DCRA customer journey seamless for many agency services.

In addition to Tertius, DCRA has other new products to empower customers and improve their experience:

  • Dispatch: DCRA’s inspection-on-demand system.
  • An expanded Permit Wizard– DCRA’s innovative, faster, easier-to-use permitting application which helps users determine what permits are required for a project
  • The Pre-Approved Plans platform will allow customers to choose from a selection of plans that are pre-approved for code compliance by DCRA and shorten the plan review time.