Does a home inspector look for code violations?
Thursday, March 19, 2020
This is a touchy subject for most home inspectors. Some inspectors refuse to quote code and others do it in a very limited way to reinforce their observation of an unsafe situation in a home.
The reason is simple: building codes are a moving target. They change every three years. And it’s not just that new requirements get added every code cycle, but sometimes things that were previously code-required get removed. Really.
Add to that the fact that it is not always clear which edition of the code was the standard for the local building department at the time of the construction. Florida used to have a patchwork of codes from multiple different sources across the state, but now has a statewide code. Enforcement of the code is up to local officials, however, and we have found they may choose to ignore some code requirements (even though that is supposed to be not allowed) and add additional stipulations of their own.
On top of it all, the other standards that the code references, such as the National Electrical Code (NEC) are not automatically adopted as soon as an update is issued. Some areas comply with an NEC that is several cycles old. And the last we heard, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which has jurisdiction over mobile home construction, goes by an NEC edition that is almost 15 years old.
Also, an older home cannot be expected to comply with later or current code standards. So, for all these reasons, most home inspectors avoid talking about code violations.
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