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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007
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    Western Montana
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    Default Does existing home need to meet current codes?

    I'm sure this discussion has been around before, but not finding a thread right now.

    Does an existing home have to meet current codes? The old, "it is grandfathered in" argument. Have a client (not mine) asking about another home inspector’s report. Specifically in this case, IRC 2009 did not require a self-closing device, IRC 2012 does. However, I don’t really care for purposes of this discussion. And, in this case, there is no local AHJ or local fire marshall to call, as we don’t have any municipal inspectors in this county (only State electrical inspection for new or addition permits if someone bothers to file a permit).

    Under what conditions does a fire safety concern become a DEFICIENT ITEM in the report? And how do you report it?

    I always make upgrade and safety recommendations, and mark some items as a SAFETY issue, but don’t necessarily make requirement recommendations on ALL items that don’t comply with current code. What do you do?

    IRC 2012 says:
    R101.2 Scope.
    The provisions of the International Residential Code for One- and Two-family Dwellings shall apply to the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy (underline is mine). Primarily, it is talking about CONSTRUCTING NEW HOMES.

    R102.7 Existing structures.
    The legal occupancy of any structure existing on the date of adoption of this code shall be permitted to continue without change, except as is specifically covered in this code, the International Property Maintenance Code or the International Fire Code, or as is deemed necessary by the building official for the general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public.

    Scope of 2012 International Existing Building Code is for construction or changes to existing buildings.

    If we look at smoke alarms as another example, as I understand and have been told by local code inspectors, an existing home is not required to meet all the current codes except in those parts of a home that is undergoing an addition or being significantly modified (lots of room for interpretation on the last part).

    Part of the problem as I see it, is ongoing education courses for ASHI, NACHI, AHIT, and others all seem to write content to the newest code. Therefore, a self-closing device is now required.

    At the end of the day, the result of our work is the inspection report. How do buyers interpret and react to the report? We are certainly not responsible for how the report is used in negotiations, but how we phrase a deficient item can make a big difference.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
    Posts
    26,251

    Default Re: Does existing home need to meet current codes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Beck View Post
    I'm sure this discussion has been around before, but not finding a thread right now.

    Does an existing home have to meet current codes?
    No, it does not.

    That is why they are referred to as being "grandfathered in" - it's not a "real code term", just the effect of the code.

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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    5,847

    Default Re: Does existing home need to meet current codes?

    Terry, this is the age old question… Nothing can be required by a home inspector, but they can make recommendations which are based on their learned knowledge. As for "grandfathering", this is an example of folklore that was created by the real estate community as it simply does not exist in the codes. You can not grandfather safety, but you can upgrade items to meet current standards.

    Codes change and evolve all the time, mostly due to the fact that that we learn of unsafe conditions, items, installations, etc… As we learn of dangerous or hazardous conditions we change the codes!

    Keep in mind that the various codes are the minimal requirement or standard, but as a home inspector we can recommend going above those standards. Your example of smoke detector is a good example of that. At one time it was enough to have one detector in a hallway. Well we know that is not the case now, we have learned that one in every bedroom works better and helps save lives. So we go above the old codes and recommend one in every bedroom, hallway, garage, etc… We have learned and improved the minimal requirement.

    The reason that the schools use the current codes as a base for what they are teaching is that it would be ill responsible to teach or use older codes, guidelines, mfg requirements, etc. We must use the most current knowledge we have at the time.

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

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    4,170

    Default Re: Does existing home need to meet current codes?

    While the word "grandfathered" is not used in the code, the idea is there as you posted
    R102.7 Existing structures.
    The legal occupancy of any structure existing on the date of adoption of this code shall be permitted to continue without change, except as is specifically covered in this code, the International Property Maintenance Code or the International Fire Code, or as is deemed necessary by the building official for the general safety and welfare of the occupants and the public.
    Unless there is some specific change and/or law to the contrary NOTHING is REQUIRED to be changed to meet a new code. This is the essence of the grandfathered term.

    But then as Scott noted WE cannot REQUIRE anything to be changed. We are not code inspectors and have no authority to require squat. Our reports are simply that, reporting on what is or isn't working and informing folks on the condition of the property. In my book that includes telling them about what does not meet the latest standards for safety such as smoke alarms, GFCI's, CSST gas tubing, etc. But I do try to word it so my client knows that what I am recommending is based on the latest standards that may not have been in effect at the time of construction.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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