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  1. #1
    James Potter's Avatar
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    Default Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Good Morning Members,
    I have been reading over the recent and not so recent posts today. There is one thing that keeps coming up that in my mind is problematic. When does the Home Inspector cross the line into interrepting Code and is it his position to do so? Does this practice not put the Home Inspector in a positon for litigation? I am sure some will jump on this thinking this is meant to be threating however, that is not my intention. I have been hearing from Code Enforcement people that Home Inspectors are present in new construction during the C of O inspection by the CEO. I would like to receive some feedback on the general thoughts and practices from you. Thanks for reading this post.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Everything home inspectors do is based in the building code.
    The big differences are we, as Home Inspectors, don't have enforcement powers and we are not limited by the minimum code. There is no crossing the line if you keep in mind the different purposes of the two inspections.
    The AHJ is inspecting for the protection of the community at large and bears virtually no liability to the individual whereas the HI is there to protect his client and owes virtually nothing to the community at large but bears virtually unlimited liability to his client (unless limited by his inspection agreement.)
    Different inspections and different purposes.
    Unless the government has limited the ability of the inspector to quote the code, there is no problem with quoting code per se, just make sure the quote is correct and pertinent.
    If there is a prohibition against quoting code (typically instituted by the Realtor boards to limit HI influence) it is easy enough to say what is needed without using the "code" word.
    I personally don't quote code as a general rule since I work in over 50 jurisdictions and don't want to go to the trouble keeping abreast of that many different codes and amendments but will if I feel a particular need.
    In my opinion, quoting or reporting on a defect in any manner has much less liability attached than NOT reporting on that defect.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by James Potter View Post
    Good Morning Members,I have been reading over the recent and not so recent posts today. There is one thing that keeps coming up that in my mind is problematic. When does the Home Inspector cross the line into interrepting Code and is it his position to do so? Does this practice not put the Home Inspector in a positon for litigation? I am sure some will jump on this thinking this is meant to be threating however, that is not my intention. I have been hearing from Code Enforcement people that Home Inspectors are present in new construction during the C of O inspection by the CEO. I would like to receive some feedback on the general thoughts and practices from you. Thanks for reading this post.
    James,

    One thing to consider is whether or not the insurance carrier will provide coverage for this service. I am pretty sure that some will not. I could be wrong though.

    As inspectors, we obviously use code as one of the tools of the trade. How else would we be able to comment on incorrect wire size and/or stair rise/run, etc? However, some of the codes are rather esoteric and beyond the scope of a home inspection. Specific training and knowledge would be necessary to accurately cite many of the codes (derating of electrical, for instance). I believe that a general knowledge of the codes is important; however, it is easy to cite an improper code if we have incomplete knowledge of a building. For instance, stairway codes have changed over the years that I have been in the building and inspection trades. If citing code on an existing stairway, it would be necessary to know when the stairway was built and compare it to the code that was enforced at that time.

    I believe that a working knowledge of the various codes puts the inspector into a better position to inspect a building. However, citing specific codes may not be a good practice. Interpreting code, in my opinion, is beyond the scope of a standard home inspection. The home inspection also goes into different directions than code. For instance, we will comment on whether or not a roof or appliance is at/beyond its expected life. This would be something not specifically addressed by a code inspector.

    Some HIs will provide a service to owners of homes (or commercial buildings) that are being constructed or remodeled. In this case, they will need to be knowledgeable about current codes and be able to cite specifics. But that is not a home inspection.

    Last edited by Gunnar Alquist; 12-28-2010 at 01:04 PM. Reason: too corect speling ;)
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I think Jim and Gunnar covered pretty darn well.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    You've crossed the line when someone starts yelling about it or you get a phone call from a lawyer. Realistically though, its irrelevant unless there are specific prohibitions by your State, SOP, licensing or insurance provider.
    When I remember the specifics of a particular Code section, the report states X is not Code compliant. When I don't remember the specifics of a Code section, but the basics to know X is wrong, the report states, X may not be Code compliant. I just can't remember everything.
    I've had realtors yell at me during an inspection when I've told the client the smoke detectors are installed in non-compliant locations. How stupid is that? They are so worried about their commission they don't even care about a life safety issue.
    I probably reference local Code more than many. I've done a lot of Code related inspections and spent a lot of time in Housing Court. People also call me when they get written up by the City for violations. I like to call it interpreter services. One of the first things potential clients usually say is "I don't understand what this means, I can barely read it". This tends to be due to the jargon and odd phrasing style. You can use the C word or not. If you don't actually own copies of your local Code books I would suggest not using the C word ever. Just state non-compliant, let them figure out what its not compliant with.
    As far as CI, it is important to remember that the Muni inspectors are doing an inspection based on plans and permit. Depending on Muni that may be a thorough inspection or a driveby. YOU as an independent CI are inspecting based on what your client wants; built per plan, quality of workmanship, best practices, installation of components per contract specifications, installation per manufacturer specs, etc. There is a wide range of concerns and goals the client may have. You won't necessarily be inspecting for the same purposes or systems for every CI.
    Write what you see, protect your client and don't sweat the semantics too much.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    As stated in the IBC: :......ICC and its founding members do not have the power or authority to police or enforce compliance with the contents of this code. Only the governmental body that enacts the code into law has such authority."

    It's my opinion that to remain relevant in my reporting, I should avoid citing (policing) code violations since I have no such authority to do so. My approach is to present my opinions which are based upon experience and education which in turn may be based upon industry and manufacturer standards, practices and specifications.

    In my reports I do not provide any references for my comments. If after the inspection someone questions my remarks, I can dig up some supporting information but honestly that's seldom requested of me. If someone wanted to know what was required by code I'd go to the guy who enforces it and see what HE wants.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Sorry Eric, I have to disagree. The 'I have no authority to enforce therefore I don't mention it', is a standard HI cop out that I think is way overblown.
    When one cites/mentions/reports a 'potential' Code violation, such as a smoke detector in the middle of the ceiling, instead of 4"-12" within the wall/ceiling intersection (simplified) as required by Code, one isn't enforcing squat. Just because you are reporting it doesn't mean you are attempting to enforce it.
    It is true that the AHJ is the only one (or the buyer in negotiations) that can enforce the Code. I'm not looking to enforce anything, parties to the deal can do whatever they want.
    The Code does NOT exist for saturday afternoon, in your lounge chair reading Shakespeare, sipping tea and nibbling crumpets and life is beautiful. The Code exists so that when all hell breaks loose at 2AM, your home is constructed sufficiently so that you have a chance of getting out alive.

    www.aic-chicago.com
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Sorry Eric, I have to disagree. The 'I have no authority to enforce therefore I don't mention it', is a standard HI cop out that I think is way overblown.
    When one cites/mentions/reports a 'potential' Code violation, such as a smoke detector in the middle of the ceiling, instead of 4"-12" within the wall/ceiling intersection (simplified) as required by Code, one isn't enforcing squat. Just because you are reporting it doesn't mean you are attempting to enforce it.
    It is true that the AHJ is the only one (or the buyer in negotiations) that can enforce the Code. I'm not looking to enforce anything, parties to the deal can do whatever they want.
    The Code does NOT exist for saturday afternoon, in your lounge chair reading Shakespeare, sipping tea and nibbling crumpets and life is beautiful. The Code exists so that when all hell breaks loose at 2AM, your home is constructed sufficiently so that you have a chance of getting out alive.
    Well said!


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Hi Markus, My beef is not with using the codes as a reference but rather with actually citing violations in inspection reports. I just can't see where home inspectors have the authority to do that. Let's go a step further and say that an inspector was code certified. Most likely when performing an inspection you wouldn't be working as an agent for the municipality and, as has been drilled into my head, would not have the authority to cite code in your home inspection reports. One final consideration - if you did do an inspection as a code official from the municipality you'd be restricted to the minimalistic requirements of the code(s) that the village had adopted.

    All of this may be technicalities but people get badly burned on these. My personal goal is to avoid such potential situations and I believe that I can do so by not including code references in my reports.

    BTW - want to join the ASHI group in Elmhurst next Monday? 7:00 PM at Mack's Golden Pheasant at 83 & North Ave. Would be glad to have you.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    A really common defect I see in my area is when the cut end of the rafter does not fully cover the ridge board. When I call it out I also give the code section number.

    Home inspectors in Knoxville were calling it out so often, that the Building Dept. finally got their guys to start checking it.

    I don't give the code section out on everything thing I see, just some. As far as the "quote once, you better quote them all" argument goes, I had my report gone over pretty good in an expert witness case (my client suing a builder).

    While the other atty wanted to pick on some other things I said, there wasn't one mention of my citing a code reference on only some items.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    You've crossed the line when someone starts yelling about it ...
    Too much else to respond to, but I disagree with that statement - when that happens ... you may have finally started doing what needs to be done in your area. Seriously.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Eric, I remember you mentioning the Golden Pheasant dinner during our regular City dinner. Haven't been out there in a while. I'll probably make but can't guarantee at this point. Good clarification on your position Eric.
    I don't cite Code in reports as much as I used to. Mainly because it just takes too much time, lengthens the report too much, and clients don't really care. If there is a challenge, I can present the section. For some stuff though I'll put the Code section in for various reasons.
    I understand your position Jerry and completely agree. When the other side is pissed you are likely doing a good job. The statement was made from the viewpoint of the other side.
    Thanks, HG

    www.aic-chicago.com
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Can anyone please cite a written source where a home inspector got in trouble or got sued because he cited a code in his report?

    Please, show me where this ever happened.

    I think the problem goes back to all the 'inspection factory schools' that were taught by people who really couldn't conduct an inspection that's why they were teachers.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    NAR and HBA were kind enough to lobby to have the home inspector law changed last year to include this little cavet limiting the mentioning of code in North Carolina Reports. Notice it only deals with reporting "State Building Code". Someone has suggested that is a nice loophole to allow mention of IRC or other codes besides "State Building Code". I use the phrase "commonly accepted building practices"


    (a2) State Building Code. – If a licensee includes a deficiency in the written report of a home inspection that is stated as a violation of the North Carolina State Residential Building Code, the licensee must do all of the following: October 1, 2010 NC Home Inspector Licensure Board NC General Statutes and NC Administrative Code Page
    10 of 38
    (1) Determine the date of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
    (2) Determine the State Building Code in effect at the time of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
    (3) Conduct the home inspection using the building codes in effect at the time of the construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
    In order to fully inform the client, if the licensee describes a deficiency as a violation of the State Building Code in the written report, then the report shall include the information described in subdivision (1) of this subsection and photocopies of the relevant provisions of the State Building Code used pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection to determine any violation stated in the report. The Board may adopt rules that are more restrictive on the use of the State Building Code by home inspectors.


    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  15. #15
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    NAR and HBA were kind enough to lobby to have the home inspector law changed last year to include this little cavet limiting the mentioning of code in North Carolina Reports. Notice it only deals with reporting "State Building Code". Someone has suggested that is a nice loophole to allow mention of IRC or other codes besides "State Building Code". I use the phrase "commonly accepted building practices"


    (a2) State Building Code. – If a licensee includes a deficiency in the written report of a home inspection that is stated as a violation of the North Carolina State Residential Building Code, the licensee must do all of the following: October 1, 2010 NC Home Inspector Licensure Board NC General Statutes and NC Administrative Code Page
    10 of 38
    (1) Determine the date of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
    (2) Determine the State Building Code in effect at the time of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
    (3) Conduct the home inspection using the building codes in effect at the time of the construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
    In order to fully inform the client, if the licensee describes a deficiency as a violation of the State Building Code in the written report, then the report shall include the information described in subdivision (1) of this subsection and photocopies of the relevant provisions of the State Building Code used pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection to determine any violation stated in the report. The Board may adopt rules that are more restrictive on the use of the State Building Code by home inspectors.
    That would certainly keep me from ever using the code word in any report of mine. Photo copies of the state building code relevant to the concern. What year the home was built and what was in affect at that time of construction etc etc etc.

    Absolutely nuts. You just about eliminated stating anything at all other than it is working or not working or in place or not in place

    Anything about every system would have to be looked up and know when it was installed and cut and paste code sections and can you say add a few hours to every inspection to do the inspection, research the home and when something was installed and at that time and place was it OK to do X at that time and then get around to douing the report.

    Forget all that. They are either trying to eliminate Home Inspectors all together or drive the cost thru the roof limiting the amount of home inspections.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Ramsey View Post
    NAR and HBA were kind enough to lobby to have the home inspector law changed last year to include this little cavet limiting the mentioning of code in North Carolina Reports. Notice it only deals with reporting "State Building Code". Someone has suggested that is a nice loophole to allow mention of IRC or other codes besides "State Building Code". I use the phrase "commonly accepted building practices"

    The bulldogs are just trying to pull the teeth of those pesky chihuahua home inspectors.
    Actually they just made it easier since you just use the "commonly accepted building practices" phrase or you could quote the IRC with the little caveat mentioning that the IRC "is the basis for most state and municipal building codes"
    Or you could charge a higher fee or offer a "research and documentation service" to provide a court ready document should the customer need it.

    There is more than one way to skin a cat!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  17. #17
    Roger Hankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I find it very easy to write home inspection reports without referring to codes. Building codes regulate construction, not real estate transactions. I report the adverse conditions found, if not obvious, I report why it is a concern, and I recommend correction by a qualified contractor. Occasionally, I may indicate that something is not installed according to the manufacturer's specifications (if I know that to be true). The problem that I see is that many of the inspector schools and their trainers teach "code" without clearly explaining that the lesson is to learn what is not acceptable practice. These teachers often don't fully develop the lesson to the point of explaining that code is the background, not the objective of the inspection. A stairs with non-uniform riser heights is to be reported not because it is a code violation, but because it increases the potential for falls. Reference to code is not needed. Whenever the customer or agents asks "does it meet code?" I patiently explain that code does not enter into the R.E. transaction, and that my report is based on the conditions found. I've rarely had anyone challenge my findings since they are based on direct observations. If challenged, I can always say, "show me in the code where the component is permitted to be installed or built in this manner." The burden is not for me to show that anything is a code violation. If challenged, the burden is on the party who disputes my report of an adverse condition.

    Someone posted a comment about a ceiling mounted smoke detector in the center of a room being a code violation. That's a new one to me. I'd like to see a reference citing that as a violation. SD location violations I've seen are typically when the SD is placed closer than 6" to the wall ceiling corner. Further, please explain why the SD in the center of the room would be a poor location?

    Last edited by Roger Hankey; 12-30-2010 at 10:31 PM. Reason: missing word in last sentence

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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Roger
    A smoke detector in the center of the room is just not in the best place it could be, all things being equal. Smoke is obviously hot and rises. In a house fire with a closed bedroom door, smoke will initially find its way into the room through any gap between the door and door frame. The closed door provides a barrier to some degree, forcing the smoke in a higher concentration to enter the room via the top of the door. It will then likely lick up the wall above the door inside the room and onto the ceiling at that point. An activated smoke detector in that vicinity will give a few seconds more warning than one further away in the center of the room (or elsewhere).

    I agree with you 100% on the reporting issue. I also (rarely) resort to citing applicable codes, not in the original report any way. If the client wants further information on identified 'issues' for the purposes of re-negotiating then I will provide an adendum, possibly referencing any applicable code at that time.

    ip
    ip


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Barker View Post
    As stated in the IBC: :......ICC and its founding members do not have the power or authority to police or enforce compliance with the contents of this code. Only the governmental body that enacts the code into law has such authority."

    It's my opinion that to remain relevant in my reporting, I should avoid citing (policing) code violations since I have no such authority to do so. My approach is to present my opinions which are based upon experience and education which in turn may be based upon industry and manufacturer standards, practices and specifications.

    In my reports I do not provide any references for my comments. If after the inspection someone questions my remarks, I can dig up some supporting information but honestly that's seldom requested of me. If someone wanted to know what was required by code I'd go to the guy who enforces it and see what HE wants.
    Eric you are in the suburbs but I assume you have been doing this long enough to have a few Chicago inspections under your belt so my question to you would be how you handle your report if you discover Romex being used in the city.
    Do you mention anything or just figure it is not technically an issue and let it slide ?
    To be fair I will ask a inverse question of Markus.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    Sorry Eric, I have to disagree. The 'I have no authority to enforce therefore I don't mention it', is a standard HI cop out that I think is way overblown.
    When one cites/mentions/reports a 'potential' Code violation, such as a smoke detector in the middle of the ceiling, instead of 4"-12" within the wall/ceiling intersection (simplified) as required by Code, one isn't enforcing squat. Just because you are reporting it doesn't mean you are attempting to enforce it.
    It is true that the AHJ is the only one (or the buyer in negotiations) that can enforce the Code. I'm not looking to enforce anything, parties to the deal can do whatever they want.
    The Code does NOT exist for saturday afternoon, in your lounge chair reading Shakespeare, sipping tea and nibbling crumpets and life is beautiful. The Code exists so that when all hell breaks loose at 2AM, your home is constructed sufficiently so that you have a chance of getting out alive.
    Markus you are one of my fellow Chicago inspectors and I have asked Eric a question so to be fair I am going to ask you based on your response of citing code how you handle finding Romex in a suburb where you are not sure they have or do not have a code against Romex.
    Do you simply report to your client they should call the village hall,AHJ,etc or do you look up the code on your own ?

    For those outside our area the city of Chicago and many of the surrounding suburbs such as where Eric is located do not allow the use of Romex as electrical conductors.

    What makes things more complicated is that both state and city code specify as an example that smoke/carbon monoxide detectors be placed with in 15 feet of bedroom doors.
    Anyone in this business knows they should be placed in bedrooms as a good recommendation for that 2:00 am fire possibility.

    So to say code is based on caring about safety is not always true when there is politics and money involved.

    A landlord would rather place one detector in a hallway to cover 4 bedrooms that buy 4 units.

    Seems not all code is based on government caring about you or your family.

    Now to be really totally fair my answer is to not learn all code but to be aware of major city code and state code and as an example from the above mention that though something is meeting code it may not be recommended by me.
    In the smoke detector example I follow up state code with CPSC guidlines and recommend for safety they make the bedroom installs as part of my report.
    Any comments?


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hankey View Post
    I find it very easy to write home inspection reports without referring to codes.
    Roger,

    Define "without referring to codes" ... you are inspecting a house to see if it is (for lack of better words) ... 'all working properly'.

    To be 'all working properly' one must first know 'how it is supposed to work', and then determine if it is indeed working that way.

    Building codes regulate construction, not real estate transactions.
    And home inspectors are inspecting construction, the attorneys are inspecting the real estate transaction. Are you the real estate attorney or the home inspector?

    A stairs with non-uniform riser heights is to be reported not because it is a code violation, but because it increases the potential for falls. Reference to code is not needed.
    It is also a code requirement to construct the stairs in a uniform manner, and if you are inspecting the stairs to see if they are safe and in proper working order, and if the stairs are, then you have also, by default, inspected the stairs for code (referenced code in your mind to know if the stairs are, or are not, 'proper').

    Whether or not you reference a code section in your report you are still referencing code during the inspection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hankey
    Someone posted a comment about a ceiling mounted smoke detector in the center of a room being a code violation. That's a new one to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    A smoke detector in the center of the room is just not in the best place it could be,
    As long as the smoke detector is not within 4" of the wall (for ceiling mounted) and not within 3' feet (some may say 5') of an air disturbing source, and is not ... (all the other code stuff about locations) ... the smoke detector is located properly. Accepted and allowed smoke detector locations have changed dramatically over the last 30 years.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    City of Chicago Code - Smoke detectors
    3(13-64-130) Location
    Not less than one approved smoke detector shall be installed in every single family residential unit and multiple dwelling unit as defined in Chapter 3(13-56), Sections 3(13-56-020), 3(13-56-030) and 3(13-56-040). The detector shall be installed on the ceiling and at least four inches from any wall or on a wall located from four to twelve inches from the ceiling and within fifteen feet of all rooms used for sleeping purposes, with not less than one detector per level, containing a habitable room or unenclosed heating plant.

    The way it has been explained to me by numerous fire inspectors I have worked with is that the smoke/fire initially will tend to crawl along the floor until it hits a wall and then creep up to the ceiling. Same thing if it comes through a door, it will creep up the door/wall to the ceiling and then creep towards the center of the ceiling on all sides to make the envelope. Having the SD in the middle is less than optimal.
    Bob as far as Romex, that depends
    - some of the Burbs I already know what they allow or don't so it's not a big deal. I don't do tons of business in the burbs but it is regular.
    - if I don't know and have the time I'll call the village hall, get connected to the building dept and ask; if I don't have the time or they are closed, I'll punt and report 'Romex may NOT be compliant in this municipality, blah, blah
    - Often times its poorly/wrongly installed anyway so its an easy writeup
    - In the City, "Romex is NOT approved in the City of Chicago for electrical use, remove and replace by licensed electrician with approved materials as soon as feasible". Once again it doesn't really matter because it is always installed wrong anyway. Even if it were approved it would have to go.
    Often times I don't have to cite squat because parties already know its wrong, they were just hoping to slide by with a checkbox inspection.
    One of the Codes I have to cite the most is the 'no dishwasher drain into the garbage disposal'. Sellers are usually pissed enough about that one to demand to see it in writing.

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  23. #23
    Roger Hankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    The definition requested by Jerry Peck is that I do not cite code in the report.

    I fully agree that knowledge of building codes is useful and necessary in home inspection. The problem is when HI's use current codes to compare old houses to current requirements. Would you recommend that every house have all receptacles by upgraded to TR receptacles? I doubt it. Some might suggest that orally, but not in the report or at most list the lack of TR receptacles as an elective modification. Another example is that many older houses have stairs that do not meet modern requirements for headroom. While I list on this condition in my report, I don't cite a code, rather I mention that the stairs has low headroom, for which there is no simple or practical remedy. I recommend installation of a "low headroom" sign and take extra care inspecting other aspects of the stairs such as railings, tread condition, lighting, etc.

    Thanks to those who responded to the SD location question. When recommending retrofit battery op. SD's inside bedrooms, it has been my practice to suggest a location directly above the door top casing, at least 6" down from the ceiling, both for ease in installation and battery maintenance, and response to smoke.


  24. #24
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    Smile Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Of course all those that are quoting code need to make sure the code they may quote is for the year the house or structure was built. I can find all kinds of code issues that may apply in 2010 if the structure was built then, but when you start doing code then make sure of what year you are quoting. Also that is why HI are just that home inspectors because they are not evaluating the structure as it is being built. Now if you do then myself as a code enforcement officer and also a home inspector we would need to talk. I find things all the time that HI miss that is code, but the reverse is true too. Especially on existing homes several years old but, was the problem code then or just a safety issue.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hankey View Post
    The definition requested by Jerry Peck is that I do not cite code in the report.
    That is what I thought, thank you.

    The problem is when HI's use current codes to compare old houses to current requirements.
    Agreed on that.

    Would you recommend that every house have all receptacles by upgraded to TR receptacles? I doubt it. Some might suggest that orally, but not in the report or at most list the lack of TR receptacles as an elective modification.
    Would you recommend it orally but not in your report? If I say it orally I feel that there is no difference than putting that in reports - if I don't really believe in it ... don't say it ... and if I do, then there is no problem putting it in writing. Agreed?

    Thanks to those who responded to the SD location question. When recommending retrofit battery op. SD's inside bedrooms, it has been my practice to suggest a location directly above the door top casing, at least 6" down from the ceiling, both for ease in installation and battery maintenance, and response to smoke.
    And you should also recommend the ones which are wirelessly interconnected as that creates a system of smoke detectors and meets old, and current, code requirements for being interconnected ('old' meaning since those requirements came into the code).

    The codes call for permanently wired smoke detectors, and calls for them to be interconnected ... but does not specify the method of interconnection - thus "wireless interconnection" works.

    I've installed the wirelessly interconnected ones in my older (1978) house, and have had them installed in remodeling jobs where new smoke detectors are required to be installed.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    My approach to things like missing GFCI's (per the current IRC) is to:

    1) report their absence

    2) explain the reason(s) why they are currently required in new construction by the IRC, "the most common source of standards for local building codes"

    3) note that such upgrades are optional in existing construction "unless required by state or local building codes", and

    4) recommend that the client consider upgrading for the reasons given in 2).

    When something is installed contrary to the manufacturer's installation instructions, I note that this is the case, reference the instructions, and recommend correction.

    When something is installed contrary to "accepted industry practice" or "contrary to industry best practice" I note the reason, and provide a reference for the practice.

    As I locate a reference I add it to my report boilerplate, and in a lot of cases I extract a visual from the appropriate reference which I pair with a defect photograph.

    It takes longer to write such a report, but:

    1) It's more useful to the client

    2) It greatly reduces the time I have to spend explaining and supporting my recommendations, both to the client and others

    3) It greatly reduces the amount of time spent answering questions post-inspection and

    4) Clearly differentiating between required repairs/improvements/corrections and optional upgrades greatly seems to reduce the stress and conflict for everyone involved in using the report as a basis for contract negotiations.

    YMMV.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    My approach to things like missing GFCI's (per the current IRC) is to:

    1) report their absence

    2) explain the reason(s) why they are currently required in new construction by the IRC, "the most common source of standards for local building codes"

    3) note that such upgrades are optional in existing construction "unless required by state or local building codes", and

    4) recommend that the client consider upgrading for the reasons given in 2).

    When something is installed contrary to the manufacturer's installation instructions, I note that this is the case, reference the instructions, and recommend correction.

    When something is installed contrary to "accepted industry practice" or "contrary to industry best practice" I note the reason, and provide a reference for the practice.

    As I locate a reference I add it to my report boilerplate, and in a lot of cases I extract a visual from the appropriate reference which I pair with a defect photograph.

    It takes longer to write such a report, but:

    1) it's more useful to the client

    2) it greatly reduces the time I have to spend explaining and supporting my recommendations, both to the client and others

    3) it greatly reduces the amount of time spent answering questions post-inspection and

    4) clearly differentiating between required repairs/improvements/corrections and optional upgrades greatly seems to reduce the stress and conflict for everyone involved in using the report as a basis for contract negotiations.

    YMMV.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Bob, For Romex I simply report that it may not meet the building's original specifications. I had a job in Island Lake a few years ago and I only ID'd Romex as one of the wiring methods. 3 years later the client sold the home and the home inspector wrote that Romex did not meet the local regs. We had an electrician go out who said the Romex was installed correctly (was just for the lights outside the garage) but agreed that the village did not permit ANY Romex. So now we make the above statement. In Chicago it's a no brainer but when you get out into McHenry county it becomes not so easy to know what's allowed and when any particular code was adopted.

    As for older homes and current standards: I think that it's prudent to recommend some conditions to be upgraded. The intent is not to say that something is necessarily wrong but rather that it can be better. This I would place on the buyer after he moves in. If a kitchen has been remodeled and the receptacles have not then I think it's more of an issue. As has been already mentioned, there can be some gray areas for the H.I. as to when something became required for that particular property.

    We all know that all homes have imperfections and that we all live with them. I believe in writing reports that gently point out some of these conditions. The report that I just finished pointed out that the steps on the stairs were not uniform in height and I added "(It is what it is)" because I simply want them to be aware of it and I really don't expect anyone to correct it.

    It boils down to perspective and how it's presented by the inspector. I liken codes to Rules of the Road. At what point do you stop crossing the boundaries? And as drivers we all take some liberties once in a while.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    The stair example is actually one of the "gray" areas I'm sometimes uncertain how to report.

    Some older stairs are just so treacherous to traverse that I feel obliged to recommend replacement even while noting that this may be both difficult and a significant or major expense, and that they may have been code compliant at the time of construction.

    In the case of some others I just note that they may feel uncomfortable compared to modern stairs and represent an increased risk, especially to very young and old users.

    This is a judgment call, It's one of the few construction defects where I don't have an objective standard, and it bothers me.

    (I realize that such stairs are never IRC complaint, and that one could objectively state the reasons, however most of the older stairs I see are non-compliant, but some are marginally if at all less safe than their compliant counterparts).

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Keller View Post
    City of Chicago Code - Smoke detectors
    3(13-64-130) Location
    Not less than one approved smoke detector shall be installed in every single family residential unit and multiple dwelling unit as defined in Chapter 3(13-56), Sections 3(13-56-020), 3(13-56-030) and 3(13-56-040). The detector shall be installed on the ceiling and at least four inches from any wall or on a wall located from four to twelve inches from the ceiling and within fifteen feet of all rooms used for sleeping purposes, with not less than one detector per level, containing a habitable room or unenclosed heating plant.
    The way it has been explained to me by numerous fire inspectors I have worked with is that the smoke/fire initially will tend to crawl along the floor until it hits a wall and then creep up to the ceiling. Same thing if it comes through a door, it will creep up the door/wall to the ceiling and then creep towards the center of the ceiling on all sides to make the envelope. Having the SD in the middle is less than optimal.
    Bob as far as Romex, that depends
    - some of the Burbs I already know what they allow or don't so it's not a big deal. I don't do tons of business in the burbs but it is regular.
    - if I don't know and have the time I'll call the village hall, get connected to the building dept and ask; if I don't have the time or they are closed, I'll punt and report 'Romex may NOT be compliant in this municipality, blah, blah
    - Often times its poorly/wrongly installed anyway so its an easy writeup
    - In the City, "Romex is NOT approved in the City of Chicago for electrical use, remove and replace by licensed electrician with approved materials as soon as feasible". Once again it doesn't really matter because it is always installed wrong anyway. Even if it were approved it would have to go.
    Often times I don't have to cite squat because parties already know its wrong, they were just hoping to slide by with a checkbox inspection.
    One of the Codes I have to cite the most is the 'no dishwasher drain into the garbage disposal'. Sellers are usually pissed enough about that one to demand to see it in writing.
    I've been in the firefighting business for 22 years, and have yet to see smoke crawl along the ground before it climbs up a wall. By nature, smoke, is unburned particles and heated gases resulting from the incomplete combustion of a material. The heated gases rise to the ceiling, then mushroom out to engulf the entire area, space, room, dwelling, etc. Then, once it has reached the ceiling, it begins to spread across until it meets another vertical barrier and begins to bank and fill the space below. The optimum location for smoke detectors is on the wall or ceiling at least 4" but no more than 12" (down the wall) from the intersection in the hallway of the sleeping area, and then one above the entry door to each bedroom at least 4" from the intersection. Then, you install one in the "kitchen area" but not directly over the stove, and the garage gets one too, as well as each floor of living space. The "code" simply says to get it away from the wall/ceiling joint and away from A/C registers or returns.


  31. #31
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    Cool smoke alarms

    http://www.systemsensor.com/pdf/A05-1003.pdf

    The problem is the "cold corner effect". Smoke and gases will tend to avoid corners whether rising up a wall or mushrooming from the center of the ceiling.


    As an inspector, you can reference codes but you can also refer to best practices and generally accepted principles. You don't have to have a code reference to tell you that surface water running downhill against a house can be a contributory factor in a wet basement. In general, unless you are conducting a forensic investigation in response to an incident or litigation, I recommend you keep code chapter and verse out of your original report. If challenged, you can always cite the code outside of your document.
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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    Post Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Too much else to respond to, but I disagree with that statement - when that happens ... you may have finally started doing what needs to be done in your area. Seriously.
    Agreed.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

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    Post Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    That would certainly keep me from ever using the code word in any report of mine. Photo copies of the state building code relevant to the concern. What year the home was built and what was in affect at that time of construction etc etc etc.

    Absolutely nuts. You just about eliminated stating anything at all other than it is working or not working or in place or not in place

    Anything about every system would have to be looked up and know when it was installed and cut and paste code sections and can you say add a few hours to every inspection to do the inspection, research the home and when something was installed and at that time and place was it OK to do X at that time and then get around to douing the report.

    Forget all that. They are either trying to eliminate Home Inspectors all together or drive the cost thru the roof limiting the amount of home inspections.

    The Detroit Free Press ran an article recently connecting a Washington NAR lobbyist to an international prostitution ring. Sorry . . . off track.

    Easy way around that North Carolina horse sense: advise clients to "consult the local code authority regarding likely or probable building code violations that may be present."


    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Hello to all, regarding CE vs HI, I am a Code Enforcement officer, and I can tell you this that a Code Enforcement Officer is no a building inspector and a building inspector is not a code enforcement officer. Reason is a CE officer primary objective is to enforce nuisance code in his jurisdiction and sometimes building codes but not always, where a building inspector all they enforce are the building codes. As a CE you are required to know the codes and the enforcement procedures of these codes and be ready to go to court in the event that you have none compliance. Being knowledgeable of building codes is a plus but often not a requirement since building officials handles the inspection, sometimes CE will be required to do building inspection but not often. So one must be sure to distinguish the two and the there qualifications.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Rick
    I think you are confusing 'Code Enforcement' with 'Building Inspector' and, to some extent Home Inspector. Your function, if I am not mistaken, encompasses a variety of codes or ordinances contained within your local jurisdictions bylaws. Largely to do with those issues somewhat outside of the Police Dept. jurisdiction but still within the municipaility in which you have authority. They could include violations surrounding a construction site, for example, (nuisance, site trash, access etc) but would not necessarily include deficiences in the actual construction of the building - that's the 'Building Inspector's' job. They (hopefully) ensure the construction meets minimal standards set forth in a variety of Construction codes.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I think that's what I said Code Enforcement does nuissance most of the time building inspector does buildings most of the time. Everyonce in a while they overlap depending on the budget.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Ramirez View Post
    Hello to all, regarding CE vs HI, I am a Code Enforcement officer, and I can tell you this that a Code Enforcement Officer is no a building inspector and a building inspector is not a code enforcement officer. Reason is a CE officer primary objective is to enforce nuisance code in his jurisdiction and sometimes building codes but not always, where a building inspector all they enforce are the building codes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Ramirez View Post
    I think that's what I said Code Enforcement does nuissance most of the time building inspector does buildings most of the time. Everyonce in a while they overlap depending on the budget.
    The name also changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and area to area: sometimes a building code inspector is known as a code enforcement officer (they do, after all, enforce the codes), sometimes as a building inspector, and sometimes as a code compliance inspector, and sometimes as a code enforcement inspector.

    Thus I would not but too much initial faith into what a person's title is, but instead probe further into what the person actually does.

    Like saying "home inspector" and then finding out that they also inspect buildings 'other than' "homes".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  38. #38
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    In my neck of the woods, Northern California, municipal code enforcement officers basically enforce city ordinances, unlicensed/ abandoned cars, tall weeds (fire hazard) neglected property maintenance, and generally seldom see the inside of any property (homes) they are checking out. That is the municipal building inspector’s job and yes, there are times when they work together on serious violations.

    The best example of what code enforcement is all about is from a quote in his book, “Building Department Administration" that he authored in 1989.

    INTENT OF THE CODES – The primary intent of building regulations is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings, and all their various components. Thus codes are minimum in nature, and under the provisions of the “police power” cannot legally be made to require construction of a quality excessive of that which is necessary to furnish a reasonable degree of safety. Attempts to impose construction requirements that might exceed those minimum in all probability would not be upheld if taken to a court of law. (The term minimum should not be misconstrued as inferior or shoddy work.) Codes must be based on what is generally accepted as good standards of construction. Only those provisions which are reasonable, practical, or necessary can be legally enforced. Codes containing requirements or specifications which, through analysis, can be proved to be excessive of minimum requirements are questionable legal validity in our contemporary society.

    Robert E. O’Bannon

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  39. #39
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    In my neck of the woods, Northern California, municipal code enforcement officers basically enforce city ordinances, unlicensed/ abandoned cars, tall weeds (fire hazard) neglected property maintenance, and generally seldom see the inside of any property (homes) they are checking out. That is the municipal building inspector’s job and yes, there are times when they work together on serious violations.

    The best example of what code enforcement is all about is from a quote in his book, “Building Department Administration" that he authored in 1989.

    INTENT OF THE CODES – The primary intent of building regulations is to provide reasonable controls for the construction, use and occupancy of buildings, and all their various components. Thus codes are minimum in nature, and under the provisions of the “police power” cannot legally be made to require construction of a quality excessive of that which is necessary to furnish a reasonable degree of safety. Attempts to impose construction requirements that might exceed those minimum in all probability would not be upheld if taken to a court of law. (The term minimum should not be misconstrued as inferior or shoddy work.) Codes must be based on what is generally accepted as good standards of construction. Only those provisions which are reasonable, practical, or necessary can be legally enforced. Codes containing requirements or specifications which, through analysis, can be proved to be excessive of minimum requirements are questionable legal validity in our contemporary society.

    Robert E. O’Bannon
    I have seen code enforcement look at a dumpster in a driveway and see cabinets in it or bathroom debris and report it to their office. Once the office checks into the permitting of remodeling it gets taken over by the permit department or building inspectors office and they red tag the home to cease work. They will also throws fines on folks, make pull things out if necessary etc etc etc.

    An investor I new in Florida had it happen to him and it cost him 5,000.00 just to have an inspector come out to see what has been done (all fines) only to slap him with more fines once they saw the extent of work in the home.

    In that sense code enforcement throughout the different cities have a lot of authority...or pass it on but still hold the hammer.


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hankey View Post
    I find it very easy to write home inspection reports without referring to codes. Building codes regulate construction, not real estate transactions. I report the adverse conditions found, if not obvious, I report why it is a concern, and I recommend correction by a qualified contractor. Occasionally, I may indicate that something is not installed according to the manufacturer's specifications (if I know that to be true). The problem that I see is that many of the inspector schools and their trainers teach "code" without clearly explaining that the lesson is to learn what is not acceptable practice. These teachers often don't fully develop the lesson to the point of explaining that code is the background, not the objective of the inspection. A stairs with non-uniform riser heights is to be reported not because it is a code violation, but because it increases the potential for falls. Reference to code is not needed. Whenever the customer or agents asks "does it meet code?" I patiently explain that code does not enter into the R.E. transaction, and that my report is based on the conditions found. I've rarely had anyone challenge my findings since they are based on direct observations. If challenged, I can always say, "show me in the code where the component is permitted to be installed or built in this manner." The burden is not for me to show that anything is a code violation. If challenged, the burden is on the party who disputes my report of an adverse condition.

    Very good explanation !

    I agree and have always looked at inspections the same way.

    The guy's that use code and standards just leave the agents a blank check to say "oh, that is grandfathered". Now your client has been harmed.

    Good inspectors can write up something and explain the concern without using the code crutch.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I am Chief Building Official in one jurisdiction, and a Code Enforcement Officer in another, also a licensed home inspector, and a licensed Home Inspection Instructor, here is what I do.
    1. As a home inspector, I do not do code inspections.
    2. As a code officer, I do not do home inspections.
    The standards of practice and code of ethics give me just about everything I need as a home inspector, the problems supposedly arise when you have knowledge of something you have not called out. Now as a trained and certified building inspector, my contract language needs to be a bit more specific perhaps, to fully explain the difference, but after all these years, this particular problem has never yet arisen. Do not (in my opinion only) EVER quote code as a non municipally covered inspector. It's simply not worth it, nor are you getting paid for it.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Nelson View Post
    I am Chief Building Official in one jurisdiction, and a Code Enforcement Officer in another, also a licensed home inspector, and a licensed Home Inspection Instructor, here is what I do.
    1. As a home inspector, I do not do code inspections.
    2. As a code officer, I do not do home inspections.
    The standards of practice and code of ethics give me just about everything I need as a home inspector, the problems supposedly arise when you have knowledge of something you have not called out. Now as a trained and certified building inspector, my contract language needs to be a bit more specific perhaps, to fully explain the difference, but after all these years, this particular problem has never yet arisen. Do not (in my opinion only) EVER quote code as a non municipally covered inspector. It's simply not worth it, nor are you getting paid for it.

    Do you consider "quoting code" as only the actual copying and pasting of the code into the writeup or do you include the common technique of reporting "Does not meet common building standards" to also be another form of quoting code?

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  43. #43
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    In my opinion, an H.I. should never even utter the word code, the other phrase "not up to current building standards" removes almost all of the trouble. I also use phrases such as " building requirements were changed due to childhood injuries" on things like railing style spacing, but never never never code language. As a code officer I am almost immune, as a H.I my butt is hanging wayyyyy to far out to ever go there. However you should also carefully look at your contract and see that it carefully delineates the differences between a home inspection and a code review. If I do any kind of code review work on the side, it is verrrrry expensive, take 3-4 times as long, and is very limited in scope, but not in any way to be interpeted as a home inspection.


  44. #44
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Nelson View Post
    In my opinion, an H.I. should never even utter the word code, the other phrase "not up to current building standards" removes almost all of the trouble. I also use phrases such as " building requirements were changed due to childhood injuries" on things like railing style spacing, but never never never code language. As a code officer I am almost immune, as a H.I my butt is hanging wayyyyy to far out to ever go there. However you should also carefully look at your contract and see that it carefully delineates the differences between a home inspection and a code review. If I do any kind of code review work on the side, it is verrrrry expensive, take 3-4 times as long, and is very limited in scope, but not in any way to be interpeted as a home inspection.
    Mike, what kind of liability would a home inspector be subject too for citing a code to reinforce his/her findings? An example ot two would be the codes that cover no heating and cooling returns in a bathroom or all plumbing fixtures with traps require venting. Both are simple examples that can be found on homes but neither will have a manufacturer requirement to fall back on.

    Just what can happen? Can you cite an instance that a home inspector has gotten into trouble by citing simple codes like this?

    If a person can read they can cite simple codes if it will backup their findings when they are being challenged, would you not agree?

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  45. #45
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I can't definitively think of a case where someone has gotten into trouble, but I seem to remember Doug Glass, an attorney, speaking at ITA Expo back in 99 or 2000 I think it was, discussing a case where a home inspector cited a couple codes, but missed a couple other non code compliant situations, and because he opened that particular can of worms by citing codes, he lost his case. I tell my students, it's your business to run, and there is certainly nothing to stop you from doing it, but with the huge amount of liability already heaped on your back, why add to it?


  46. #46
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Nelson View Post
    I can't definitively think of a case where someone has gotten into trouble, but I seem to remember Doug Glass, an attorney, speaking at ITA Expo back in 99 or 2000 I think it was, discussing a case where a home inspector cited a couple codes, but missed a couple other non code compliant situations, and because he opened that particular can of worms by citing codes, he lost his case. I tell my students, it's your business to run, and there is certainly nothing to stop you from doing it, but with the huge amount of liability already heaped on your back, why add to it?
    I do not know Doug Glass but I have heard others say basically the same thing, but nobody can provide anything to support their statements. It might have happened 15-20+ years ago but that was also when our profession was very young.

    Personally, I think it is home inspector folklore.

    I have yet to meet anyone that can cite a case where an inspector has gotten into trouble for citing a code as a reference to back up a finding. Yet, most if not all of the schools and instructors are teaching folks to stay away from the "C" word.

    To each their own but let's not foster folklore.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  47. #47
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    I do not know Doug Glass but I have heard others say basically the same thing, but nobody can provide anything to support their statements. It might have happened 15-20+ years ago but that was also when our profession was very young.

    Personally, I think it is home inspector folklore.

    I have yet to meet anyone that can cite a case where an inspector has gotten into trouble for citing a code as a reference to back up a finding. Yet, most if not all of the schools and instructors are teaching folks to stay away from the "C" word.

    To each their own but let's not foster folklore.
    It appears North Carolina may be in that boat of if they quote some code they must quote it on all items. They probably have some inspectors that may have gotten some heat for that.


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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    The issue in citing codes - not that they are not warranted at times - is primarily an issue of 'opening the door' in a courtroom/legal setting. Once a code(s) is/are cited under any examination in chief or cross examination and under oath, it opens the door to the opposing attorney to question the total validity of the inspection and expertise of the Inspector. Code citing may be necessary but in court be prepared to go into areas you may not be too familiar with.

    It makes more sense to leave any specific reference to any particular code out of the HI report, if at all possible because the report, all of its contents and the writer are fair game for scruitiny.

    ip


  49. #49
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Anedotal experiences are not preccedent. Unpublished cases, especially those untested or reviewed are irrelevant.

    The thing about anedotes, "lore", stories, is that oftentimes the conclusions promoted (just like the use of statistics) is questionable without authoritative study, and testing.

    Same applies to medicine, law, and most experience and evidence based professions. Experience versus evidence - never black and white, and always dependant on "the big picture".

    I agree, that most of the "less is more" or else" HI instructor lore is just that -- stories, legends, convulutions of often un-cited yarns.

    I suspect that 99% of the time there was "more" to the story than what is told, which makes the validity of the conclusions spouted ... questionable.

    When a lawyer tells a story about a case "lost" due to the client having done/said/reported/failed to report "x", I'd take that with a grain of salt. Especially if its a vague recollection of a "story" heard well over a decade ago, and verywell may have been a decades old yarn even then.

    Most of the time there are a host differing factors, including the skills and performance, or lack thereof of the lawyers involved. As they say, he who has the gold rules, and a case can be literally litigated to death.

    Expert opinions are extremely rich sources for hypothesis generation. The reason for associating greater confidence in research generated information as compared to experience is twofold: 1) reliability, and 2) validity.

    Simply stated, reliability pertains to the notion of replication; i.e. the same (or closely similar) findings could be obtained when a separate team ("of players", court, jury, lawyers, litigants) deals with the same question adopting an identical or similar approach/circumstances/arguments/etc.

    Since the methodology of gaining experience is not recorded by the owner of the experience in any systematic manner, it is theoretically impossible to replicate the experience by a separate individual or team.

    A second issue is one of validity. Validity has several meanings associated with it.

    The most important issue that distinguishes experience from research generated information is one of alternative explanation. In studies focused on identifying causation or explanation of an observed phenomenon, it is imperative that any alternative explanation for the observed phenomena be discounted. Most of the safety standards are continually being developed, modified, changed due to things learned, examined, tested, then tried, researched, and subject to scientific analysis, and statistical analysis, and scientific review.

    Rarely are any of these "The HI got sued and lost because he did too much" "took photos" "reported details", "exceeded the minimum" cases "tested" or precedent, and when are, there are a host of other factors which are present.

    Often what IS determined to be precedent is not case circumstances/fact-based; but procedural or intreprations of statutes, not codes; or tortous interference, limitations of liability, or general "public policy" regional applicaitons, etc. Most of the actual case files I've reviewed on such "claimed" reasons - boil down to the defense attorney asking the wrong question or advancing the wrong argument and it is the question, or the affirmative defense recitals, or a counter suit that causes the "backfire", or the HI confusing reading something from a report and a question about it as a need to explain or justify what was written - and using the word "opinion" or similar in that diatribe, which opens the door not to "what a prudent HI would or would not do/say" but expert testimony at what expertise and in what areas, at no end, other than being expert at the performance of HI. Rarely have the "four corners" of the report itself done so.

    I have yet to see a tested, reviewed, published case that actually provides a basis, let alone a precedent to the "less is more" hypothosis promoted as precedent-based-theory.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 03-30-2011 at 04:43 PM.

  50. #50
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    It appears North Carolina may be in that boat of if they quote some code they must quote it on all items. They probably have some inspectors that may have gotten some heat for that.
    An inspector friend of mine in NC, Marion Peeples who also served on the state board said that the requirement came from the home builders association lobby. They figured that if they had this requirement put into the rules that it would be so much trouble to cite codes that nobody would do it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  51. #51
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I was a home inspector for 17 years, and the last 15 years I started quoting code until it got to the point that much of my inspection was quoting code and installation instructions (which are also code) - not once did I get into trouble quoting code nor did it increase my liability ... any effect would have been reducing my liability as I was offering direct and specific minimum requirements for what I was writing up.

    I was no longer "me" saying what "I" did not think was correct, it was me pointing out what the "code" stated was incorrect.

    Now I do municipal code inspections and construction consulting, and codes are what I do.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  52. #52
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    An inspector friend of mine in NC, Marion Peeples who also served on the state board said that the requirement came from the home builders association lobby. They figured that if they had this requirement put into the rules that it would be so much trouble to cite codes that nobody would do it.

    I made that exact comment on another thread at another time. My belief was exactly what you said. Such a long drawn out time consuming, you better copy and past not just the right code but just as in the bible you would have to point everywhere else in the bible that hardened the point you were trying to make.

    I truly think. As you see on here all the time, that quoting code will have disputes as to the interpretation of that code, and the time for the explanation, to all the other home inspectors on here, would be so time consuming that it is just not worth the head aches.

    Not to mention the fact that the clients look at you with there head cocked to the side with the .... HUH look on their face and in their eyes.


  53. #53
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Kentucky Law:

    198B.738 Home inspectors prohibited from indicating compliance or noncompliance with building code.
    Home inspectors, when acting in that capacity, are prohibited from indicating orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B.
    Effective: July 15, 2008
    History: Amended 2008 Ky. Acts ch. 100, sec. 9, effective July 15, 2008. -- Created 2004 Ky. Acts ch. 109, sec. 20, effective July 13, 2004.
    =========================
    So a portion of my report goes (thanks to some of you on here who have contributed portions or ideas for portions):
    ========================
    The first thing to remember about building codes is that safety hazards DO NOT read the building code book. Safety hazards don't care about the building code book. Safety hazards just sit and wait to cause you and your family personal injury. Also remember that the building code is developed by nationwide experts in particular topic areas. It is then sent to the state where some homebuilders, a few experts, and politicians decide what is going to be enforced in the state. It is then sent to the local level where mostly home builders and politicians decide what's going to be enforced locally. It's then given to the code enforcement inspectors to interpret according to how they read the code. In addition, the local code often lags several years behind the national codes.

    The building code is not a great and lofty standard. It is the bare minimum legal standard that a home builder, electrician, plumber, etc, must comply with. To do anything less would be illegal.

    B4U Close Home Inspections services a large area of Kentucky with many different building code enforcement authorities, each with their own individual interpretations of the national and state building codes based on their local politics and beliefs. I cannot be completely conversant with each and every building code enforcement authority's interpretation of the national building codes; therefore B4U Close Home Inspections does not perform code compliance inspections nor guarantee that all items are in compliance with governing codes, regulations, ordinances, statutes, covenants and manufacturer specifications. My references and sources for calling out different items as a safety concern or defective or marginal or in need of repair may include the national building codes (International Residential Code / National Electric Code / Uniform Plumbing Code, etc), manufacturer's instructions, the building industry's standards, continuing education, and personal experience.

    If the response to an area of concern or a recommendation in my report is, "Well, they didn't have that (or they didn't do that) when the house was built," or that it was "grandfathered", I usually know that. I also note that when it comes to home repairs, "Grandfathered" is a term often tossed out by people who care more about their wallet than about you and your family's safety: as in "That 8 inch gap in the balcony railing doesn't need to be fixed because it's grandfathered. It was okay to do it that way when this house was built."

    Is it going to comfort you, when your child falls through that gap and is badly injured, that the size of the gap was "Grandfathered"? All "Grandfathered" really means is that no one can "force" you to change it, repair it, or replace it. Only YOU can choose what level of risk you want to live with. People with young children who could fall through that 8 inch gap "should" choose to ensure it is changed to a safer gap but no one is going to force a change except you.

    Since whatever issue was "grandfathered", our knowledge has increased considerably concerning safety in the home. I believe that you should be safe in your home and that taking care of your home should be as easy as possible. So I will recommend things that they didn't have or do years ago simply to keep you safe or help you take care of your home. What's most important to me is that you and your family are as safe as possible in your home. Only YOU can choose what level of risk you want to live with and expose your family to.

    Note that the Kentucky Home Builders Association lobbyists managed to have the Kentucky State Legislature include the following in the Kentucky Home Inspector Licensing Law:

    Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 198B.738
    "Home inspectors, when acting in that capacity, are prohibited from indicating orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B."

    Therefore, if you think an issue might be a code violation, you need to consult your local building code enforcement department for a determination, as it is illegal for me to indicate "orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B.".

    Or contact the State of Kentucky Building Code Enforcement Office at:

    Office of Housing, Buildings, and Construction
    101 Sea Hero Road, Suite 100
    Frankfort, Kentucky 40601
    (502) 573-0373
    Kentucky: Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction - Home


    Remember: Only YOU can choose what level of risk you want your family to live with.

    If you have any questions, please call me.
    ================================




    =

    Last edited by Erby Crofutt; 03-30-2011 at 06:12 PM.
    Erby Crofutt, Georgetown, KY - Read my Blog here: Erby the Central Kentucky Home Inspector B4 U Close Home Inspections www.b4uclose.com www.kentuckyradon.com
    Find on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/B4UCloseInspections

  54. #54
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erby Crofutt View Post
    Kentucky Law:

    198B.738 Home inspectors prohibited from indicating compliance or noncompliance with building code.
    Home inspectors, when acting in that capacity, are prohibited from indicating orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B.
    Effective: July 15, 2008
    History: Amended 2008 Ky. Acts ch. 100, sec. 9, effective July 15, 2008. -- Created 2004 Ky. Acts ch. 109, sec. 20, effective July 13, 2004.
    =========================
    So a portion of my report goes (thanks to some of you on here who have contributed portions or ideas for portions):
    ========================
    The first thing to remember about building codes is that safety hazards DO NOT read the building code book. Safety hazards don't care about the building code book. Safety hazards just sit and wait to cause you and your family personal injury. Also remember that the building code is developed by nationwide experts in particular topic areas. It is then sent to the state where some homebuilders, a few experts, and politicians decide what is going to be enforced in the state. It is then sent to the local level where mostly home builders and politicians decide what's going to be enforced locally. It's then given to the code enforcement inspectors to interpret according to how they read the code. In addition, the local code often lags several years behind the national codes.

    The building code is not a great and lofty standard. It is the bare minimum legal standard that a home builder, electrician, plumber, etc, must comply with. To do anything less would be illegal.

    B4U Close Home Inspections services a large area of Kentucky with many different building code enforcement authorities, each with their own individual interpretations of the national and state building codes based on their local politics and beliefs. I cannot be completely conversant with each and every building code enforcement authority's interpretation of the national building codes; therefore B4U Close Home Inspections does not perform code compliance inspections nor guarantee that all items are in compliance with governing codes, regulations, ordinances, statutes, covenants and manufacturer specifications. My references and sources for calling out different items as a safety concern or defective or marginal or in need of repair may include the national building codes (International Residential Code / National Electric Code / Uniform Plumbing Code, etc), manufacturer's instructions, the building industry's standards, continuing education, and personal experience.

    If the response to an area of concern or a recommendation in my report is, "Well, they didn't have that (or they didn't do that) when the house was built," or that it was "grandfathered", I usually know that. I also note that when it comes to home repairs, "Grandfathered" is a term often tossed out by people who care more about their wallet than about you and your family's safety: as in "That 8 inch gap in the balcony railing doesn't need to be fixed because it's grandfathered. It was okay to do it that way when this house was built."

    Is it going to comfort you, when your child falls through that gap and is badly injured, that the size of the gap was "Grandfathered"? All "Grandfathered" really means is that no one can "force" you to change it, repair it, or replace it. Only YOU can choose what level of risk you want to live with. People with young children who could fall through that 8 inch gap "should" choose to ensure it is changed to a safer gap but no one is going to force a change except you.

    Since whatever issue was "grandfathered", our knowledge has increased considerably concerning safety in the home. I believe that you should be safe in your home and that taking care of your home should be as easy as possible. So I will recommend things that they didn't have or do years ago simply to keep you safe or help you take care of your home. What's most important to me is that you and your family are as safe as possible in your home. Only YOU can choose what level of risk you want to live with and expose your family to.

    Note that the Kentucky Home Builders Association lobbyists managed to have the Kentucky State Legislature include the following in the Kentucky Home Inspector Licensing Law:

    Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) Chapter 198B.738
    "Home inspectors, when acting in that capacity, are prohibited from indicating orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B."

    Therefore, if you think an issue might be a code violation, you need to consult your local building code enforcement department for a determination, as it is illegal for me to indicate "orally or in writing that any condition is or is not in compliance with any building code enforced under KRS Chapter 198B.".

    Remember: Only YOU can choose what level of risk you want your family to live with.

    If you have any questions, please call me.
    ================================




    =
    I like that


  55. #55
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    An inspector friend of mine in NC, Marion Peeples who also served on the state board said that the requirement came from the home builders association lobby. They figured that if they had this requirement put into the rules that it would be so much trouble to cite codes that nobody would do it.
    Probably the most code ignorant group of people would be a Home Builders Association.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  56. #56
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    It appears North Carolina may be in that boat of if they quote some code they must quote it on all items.

    Not all code items have to be reported just because you report one code item in NC.

    What is required is to determine the dates of original permit, other remodels etc and include in the report all of the exact code wording for any item reported as not meeting the NC building code.

    Not sure who would go to all that trouble unless they were getting paid for an extra day of work.

    Bruce King, B.A. King Home Inspections, LLC
    www.BAKingHomeInspections.com
    Certified Master Inspector, Independent Inspectorwww.IndependentInspectors.org

  57. #57
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    Succasunna NJ
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    574

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Nelson View Post
    I am Chief Building Official in one jurisdiction, and a Code Enforcement Officer in another, also a licensed home inspector, and a licensed Home Inspection Instructor, here is what I do.
    1. As a home inspector, I do not do code inspections.
    2. As a code officer, I do not do home inspections.
    The standards of practice and code of ethics give me just about everything I need as a home inspector, the problems supposedly arise when you have knowledge of something you have not called out. Now as a trained and certified building inspector, my contract language needs to be a bit more specific perhaps, to fully explain the difference, but after all these years, this particular problem has never yet arisen. Do not (in my opinion only) EVER quote code as a non municipally covered inspector. It's simply not worth it, nor are you getting paid for it.
    If I were on a jury that was judging a case that YOU (Mike), as a home inspector missed a code violation on a 'newer' home, I'd convict you while I was still in the jury box.

    You are a licensed CODE inspector, as such, you should be held to a higher standard. By NOT inserting a code violation, you are doing a disservice to your client.
    Let's say the house is 2 years old and was constructed to the same model code being used today. You may say the stairs are uneven and could possibly be a trip hazard. The buyer goes back to the seller, who goes back to the builder and the builder has the 'it passed code inspection' cop-out. Now the stairs are left in place and nothing gets fixed.

    By saying it fails to meet section R311.5.3.2 of the 2006 IRC, now the seller can go back to the builder and say, Hey, you built a stairwell that doesn't meet code. If he fails to response, then the local building department can get involved.

    Here in NJ, the builder can be responsible for his construction for 10 years after a CO is issued.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  58. #58
    Guy W Opie's Avatar
    Guy W Opie Guest

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I will only comment on the electrical side. The NEC may not be adopted completley by your state or area. There are many exception listed in the Code. This one of the reasons in NJ , We are required to get 34 CEUs every 3 years, which includes 10 on the new code.
    Wiring motors is which includes HVAC has it own rules. I have called out several times, beacause the HI report that the wrong size wire was run to the ac condensor, only to find that it was installed correctly.
    The wording might not be in compliance seems to be better than trying to state a code, that maybe incorrect. This leaves the door open for the seller or buyer to hire an licensed professional to check the installation.

    Smoke detector 4" -12" from wall or ceiling, 3 feet from any duct and now 3 feet from tips of a ceiling fan.


  59. #59
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    I think that many of us who use the codes to reinforce our findings only do so with codes that are health, life and safety issues. Rise and run of steps; windows near doors, etc; GFCI/AFCI; handrails/guardrails; light fixtures of tubs/showers; kitchen islands; and the list goes on.

    If an item is covered by a manufacturers requirements then a code cite is not needed. I think we will all agree that the bulk of what we find in a home is covered by the various manufacturers requirements.

    Personally I try to keep it as simple as possible when I report on items. About the only time I use a code cite is with new construction and that is because I know that builders will not do anything if I do not provide it.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  60. #60
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    An inspector friend of mine in NC, Marion Peeples who also served on the state board said that the requirement came from the home builders association lobby. They figured that if they had this requirement put into the rules that it would be so much trouble to cite codes that nobody would do it.
    Below is a quote taken from the NC HI law. Underlining and bolding mine. It specifically calls out NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENTIAL building code ONLY. So techincally if we quote IRC, NEC, UPC, CABO etc then the no need to document all this silliness.

    [FONT='Arial','sans-serif'] (a2) State Building Code. – If a licensee includes a deficiency in the written report of a home inspection that is stated as a violation of the North Carolina State Residential Building Code, the licensee must do all of the following: [/FONT]
    [FONT='Arial','sans-serif'](1) Determine the date of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home. [/FONT]
    [FONT='Arial','sans-serif'](2) Determine the State Building Code in effect at the time of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home. [/FONT]
    [FONT='Arial','sans-serif'](3) Conduct the home inspection using the building codes in effect at the time of the construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home. [/FONT]
    [FONT='Arial','sans-serif']In order to fully inform the client, if the licensee describes a deficiency as a violation of the State Building Code in the written report, then the report shall include the information described in subdivision (1) of this subsection and photocopies of the relevant provisions of the State Building Code used pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection to determine any violation stated in the report. The Board may adopt rules that are more restrictive on the use of the State Building Code by home inspectors.[/FONT][FONT='Arial','sans-serif'][/FONT]

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  61. #61
    Brian Richardson's Avatar
    Brian Richardson Guest

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    As a Florida municipal inspector, we recite code sections because we are inspecting 'in-progress' construction, which has to meet the "current" code requirements that are in effect at the time of the construction. Florida Building Codes cycle every three years, and for the most part, are formed using the base codes of the IBC, IRC, NEC and ADA, with Miami/Dade having their own more stringent version of the Florida Building Code known as the HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone). Codes are only the minimal standards required. Basically, as one instructor put it, Building Codes allow a contractor to build the sh*tiest house allowed by law.

    If I were a HI, which I am but not active with my license, I don't believe I would be reciting code during home inspections. If during your inspections, you notice that the kitchen outlets above the countertops are not GFI protected and the outlet spacing does not meet todays NEC requirements, and you mark in your report that they "do not meet code", or are not "code compliant", then you may be incorrect. You have to first look at when the home was constructed, and then take into consideration in what NEC code cycle did GFI protection and outlet spacing come into play. If it came into play at some point after the house was built, then that does not mean it doesn't meet the code or is not code compliant. If it met the NEC code requirements that were in effect at the time the home was built, then it definitely meets the code, and is absolutely code compliant.

    From a safety standpoint, and knowing that it met the NEC codes that were in effect when the home was built, do I think that there is a safety issue? Most definitely. That is why codes cycle, to amend and evolve, and to make the construction of homes safer than previous generations of homes.

    Brian


  62. #62
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    As a Florida municipal inspector, we recite code sections because we are inspecting 'in-progress' construction, which has to meet the "current" code requirements that are in effect at the time of the construction. Florida Building Codes cycle every three years, and for the most part, are formed using the base codes of the IBC, IRC, NEC and ADA, with Miami/Dade having their own more stringent version of the Florida Building Code known as the HVHZ (High Velocity Hurricane Zone). Codes are only the minimal standards required. Basically, as one instructor put it, Building Codes allow a contractor to build the sh*tiest house allowed by law.

    If I were a HI, which I am but not active with my license, I don't believe I would be reciting code during home inspections. If during your inspections, you notice that the kitchen outlets above the countertops are not GFI protected and the outlet spacing does not meet todays NEC requirements, and you mark in your report that they "do not meet code", or are not "code compliant", then you may be incorrect. You have to first look at when the home was constructed, and then take into consideration in what NEC code cycle did GFI protection and outlet spacing come into play. If it came into play at some point after the house was built, then that does not mean it doesn't meet the code or is not code compliant. If it met the NEC code requirements that were in effect at the time the home was built, then it definitely meets the code, and is absolutely code compliant.

    From a safety standpoint, and knowing that it met the NEC codes that were in effect when the home was built, do I think that there is a safety issue? Most definitely. That is why codes cycle, to amend and evolve, and to make the construction of homes safer than previous generations of homes.

    Brian
    Be carful Brian... well written logical posts such as yours are typically followed by pages of arguing about the color of ink the code book is written in

    Welcome to the board....


  63. #63
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    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Richardson View Post
    As a Florida municipal inspector, ...
    Which city/county in Florida?

    If I were a HI, which I am but not active with my license, I don't believe I would be reciting code during home inspections.
    When I was doing home inspections (I do code inspections now), I, and several others who inspected in the same area in South Florida, did include code sections because many of the houses we did were new homes, under construction, in the planning stages, just finished, or within the one year warranty.

    Code sections where also applicable to recent construction with the applicable code at the time.

    Code sections are also applicable to show the current safety standards as compared to what is found.

    With regard to Matt's comments ... I prefer black ink.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  64. #64
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    As your question stages, it is an obvious profession "Catch 22". The exposure / liability is minimised with word smithing. The Home Inspector is a generalist and a code expert is just that. Rather than quote code section chapter and verse, the Home Inspector should cite the concern / observation generically and often refer any code compliance determination to licensed professional review. There is no doubt in my mind that many inspectors at this site have more trade knowledge than some licensed in that trade. However; the license is the key when considering liability.


  65. #65
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    Fredericksburg, VA
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    885

    Default Re: Code Enforcement vs.Home Inspector?

    Brian, you are correct. Unless I know when the house was built and have the codes in effect at the time of permit issue, I never use any wording that uses or explicitly implies a code violation. In most cases I run across, it is a pretty clear safety issue and the wording in the report reflects my concerns in those terms.

    For instance: A recent inspection of a 5-year old home was inhabited and being sold as a short-sale by the "Builder - Contractor" had a set of steps to the basement that were a collapse waiting to happen. The top of the stringers were just nailed to the blocking of the opening without any support under them. The toes of the stringers were resting on a platform by about 1/4 -1/3 of the toe width. The bottom landing was just a box of 2x6 boards nailed to wall studs on one side and the concrete foundation wall on the adjacent side, again without any support blocking to the floor. I reported that the stairs were subject to collapse stating the above observations. I recommended repair by a "Competent" licensed contractor. Why bring "Code" into the issue? It was just poor construction and there was no need to bring the code book into it.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

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