All privatized military family housing on Fort Belvoir will be part of an Army pilot project for third-party inspections this year, according to Ms. Carla Coulson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Housing and Partnerships.
This inspection of all privatized family housing is a new requirement for all military services, which collectively includes about 200,000 privatized houses. The proposed inspections, outlined in a December letter to the Fort Belvoir RCI property owners, indicates that RER Solutions, as the independent third-party, will conduct the inspections over the next seven to nine months.
Jason Kallivokas, executive vice president, RER Solutions stated, “We are using state home inspection guidelines, so every inspector, at a minimum, will be a certified or have some higher level of qualification. Inspectors will include licensed engineers or architects. Every one of our inspectors has home inspection experience.”
“USAG Fort Belvoir is looking forward to, and fully supports, the upcoming third party inspections of all 2,053 RCI homes located on Fort Belvoir, as mandated by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act,” said John Moeller, PhD, deputy to the Garrison commander. “We realize conducting these inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic will be inconvenient, but every precaution will be taken to mitigate any risk to residents.”
RER’s COVID-19 inspection policy stated it remains committed to prioritizing the health and well-being of the Fort Belvoir community and has implemented a number of protocols to ensure all current and future residents, and valued team members are safe. “We assure you that we will always treat your health and safety with the highest concern,” Kallivokas said.
The COVID-19 guidelines include masked and gloved inspectors, who will wear shoe covers while in the house. If any inspector must remove gloves during the inspection, any surfaces or items touched by bare hands will be cleaned. If possible, residents may stay in another room while the inspection is being completed.
“We are aware of the pandemic, and RER is taking all precautions required. We realize we will have some families not comfortable having us in, and we can schedule them later in the year. We know people are home-schooling, but we need to do this so we can help people identify system and neighborhood issues, and come up with a report that helps the Army and the other services move forward,” said Scott Chamberlain, assistant for housing and chief, capital ventures, office of the deputy assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Housing and Partnerships).
RER said its inspectors will begin testing its software systems by first inspecting unoccupied houses, as a preparation for on-site inspections. Because Woodlawn Village offers unrestricted access, Kallivokas said its 340 houses will be the first community to be inspected, beginning in February.
According to the plan, the RER program manager will be in direct coordination with community managers regarding scheduling and accessibility; inspections will be scheduled at least 2 weeks in advance.
The scope of work to be performed by RER Solutions states that inspections are visual surveys of the property, HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and elements that are easily visible and readily accessible. “We aren’t invasive, and won’t be moving furniture or dishwashers. We don’t expect to be in the homes for a significant amount of time, and we will provide the least amount of disruption to residents while performing a thorough inspection,” Kallivokas said.
The assessments will also include common areas, exteriors, drainage and landscaping.
Chamberlain said the final report will include RER’s assessment of the overall physical and operational condition of the property, and identify the specific physical deficiencies and conditions of major systems and components. He said the report will be flexible enough that the results can be analyzed based on house, community or across the entire installation.
“When a team leaves a house, there’s not a report that will be available for the resident, but any life, health or safety issues observed by the inspectors will be reported immediately to Michaels and the Garrison,” Chamberlain said. “This is a strategic pilot and we intend to learn from these inspections how best to proceed with future inspections across the Army.”
A key component of the final report by RER Solutions will be to provide lessons learned at Fort Belvoir, and recommendations to be utilized as a guide for the Army and other services.
“We feel these inspections are critical to ensuring all residents of Fort Belvoir have a safe and healthy house to live in, as they will help identify systemic issues – if any – that require greater emphasis,” said Moeller.
Editor’s Note: Additional information on the inspections will be available in the Belvoir Eagle, Belvoir social media platforms and the housing portal on the Belvoir web page, as it is finalized and becomes available.