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  1. #1
    Joseph Stevens's Avatar
    Joseph Stevens Guest

    Default Newer codes applying to old buildings

    First off, I am still learning, and have not started doing inspections yet.

    Building codes are constantly being updated and I am trying to figure out what codes apply to what homes. Do you guys call out a kitchen in a 60's home that doesn't have GFCI outlets? (assuming there isn't a sign of recent remodeling) What about egress requirements? My parents house is over 100 years old and from the 2nd floor the only exit is the stairs to the 1st floor. There isn't one window that meets the rules. Obviously on new construction this was be a red flag but do you call it out on a report that it needs to be updated?


    How do you determine what to call out on an inspection as far as codes that have been updated or changed over the years.


    Thanks for you help.

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    Last edited by Joseph Stevens; 08-31-2010 at 09:06 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Newer codes applying to new buildings

    Each situation is different and you have to assess them as the come. I apply common sense first. If a dispute arises (its rare) from my common sense approach, I might refer to code to back it up. Initially, I avoid referring to code.

    For instance, lack of handrails or excessive balluster spacing is a safety hazard no matter how old or new the house is and no matter when the code was written.

    Upgrading to GFI protection is always a good idea. Just call it out and move on.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Newer codes applying to old buildings

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Stevens View Post
    How do you determine what to call out on an inspection as far as codes that have been updated or changed over the years.
    You're on a good track with your thoughts and training as this is probably the #1 question that goes through an experienced (or inexperienced) HI's mind on a daily basis.

    In short, there's no clear answer. There are things that are commonly called out as safety concerns (GFIs, Smoke detectors, railings, safety glazing on windows) but it's difficult (even incorrect in some places) to call them defects.

    Many "code junkies" think they know every code ever written in every year and when they were all applied and catch every one on every inspection. I'd bet my house and all my future earnings that no such person exists. Additionally, to claim this opens you up to a HUGE amount of liability IMO... But, to each his own.

    Codes that focus on safety is a good place to start but be carful since every electrical, HVAC and many other codes were written with safety in mind so to think you'll get them all is wishful thinking to say the least.

    As you focus on what's important I'd offer the following list:

    Water intrusion - everything outside - roofs, siding, etc.
    WDOs (wood destroying insects) if you're on the hook for them
    Major structural stuff - foundations, framing
    Obvious safety items - hand railings, stairs, smoke detectors, GFI protection, appliance venting, hazardous electrical installations, fireplaces.

    If you focus on nothing other than what is mentioned above you'll steer clear of 95% of lawsuits and other problems.

    Until you have those items down, spend minimal time on other stuff. Not that there's nothing important not listed... those items, IMO, are just the biggies.

    I'm sure I've overlooked something.... I'm also sure someone will be quick to point it out


  4. #4
    Joseph Stevens's Avatar
    Joseph Stevens Guest

    Default Re: Newer codes applying to new buildings

    Hey thanks you guys have been helpful as usual.

    One more quick question involving stairways. In some really old homes some stairways are extremely steep with very little run. I understand that "that's just how it was" back then, but how do you call it? It is obviously a safety hazard, but in many cases changing it would involve re-framing a majority of the house. Do you just say it is a safety hazard, beware and move on, or recommend updating? Sorry if this question seems to picky I am just trying to get a feel for how "that's how it was done way back then" relates to how it is today and what needs to be updated.

    Thanks.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Newer codes applying to old buildings

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Many "code junkies" think they know every code ever written in every year and when they were all applied and catch every one on every inspection.

    I'd venture to say that (with few exceptions) most "code junkies" will be the first to say how little they know. Instead we would say that we are "students of the code" and ready and willing to learn more about them.

    It's basic common sense - the more you know, the more you know YOU DON'T KNOW, and some are basically clueless about the codes.

    Yes, there may be a few who may claim to "know every code ever written in every year" but that only means they have not yet realized what they do NOT KNOW.

    However, now that the above has been said, keep in mind that the basic safety aspects of the codes have been there for a VERY LONG TIME, with small changes over time (and it is those small changes over time which catch you when using and applying code) which is why common sense is so important.

    There are also those who try to stay away from codes so they can bash those who are students of the codes, but all they are doing is limiting their own resources and knowledge.

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

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