Home Inspections and Building Code
We often get questions if a home we are inspecting is code compliant. This is a tough questions for a few reasons:
Home Inspectors Are Not Code Officers. Home inspectors are very interested in safety that often coincides with code, but not always. For example, we are always focused on deck railings and push for proper height and baluster spacing to keep the homeowner and occupants safe. Current building codes require the same height and spacing requirements we recommend. We recommend the railings to be improved, when needed, but they are not required to be improved. There's a big difference. Our recommendation is to you if you purchase the home. Work with your realtor and take their advice. It may make sense to ask the seller to make improvements. In a sellers market, it may not.
Code Only Applies to When The Home Was Built/Refurbished.
My home was built in 1978. The home is not expected to comply to recent codes. Let's say the attic insulation is required to be R49 in today's code, but my home only meets R19 (much less insulation). I'm not expected to add more insulation each time a new code requirement comes out. I would, however, if I built an addition or changed a traditional ceiling to a cathedral ceiling. To make this even more complex, my town may not have adopted the 1978 code at the time it was built and still followed the 1974 code. To confirm the home was built to the specific code my town required is nearly impossible, and most likely irrelevant.
Code is an important baseline to follow when building or remodeling. Many code requirements cannot be seen or verified (internal framing, for example) without ripping walsl apart. Homes cannot receive their Certificate of Occupancy by the town until all town inspections have passed throughout the building process. While that gives us some peace to know the town has inspected and approves the project, the town only inspects the projects it knows about (permitted projects). Always pull permits for recent projects from your town planning office.
Matt & Matt