Home Inspectors VS Code Inspectors

Home Inspectors vs Code Inspectors

Let’s talk about something that many, many people get confused about, or just don’t understand.

I get asked on a daily basis if the home I just inspected “passed.”   There is no pass or fail when it comes to a home inspection.  Only code inspectors declare a pass or fail for a dwelling.

What is a code inspector?

Good question.  A code inspector or AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) is a person that checks to ensure a home or dwelling has followed certain laws and safety requirements for their local area.  Every area of the country is different in their rules and laws; rules like footer depth and width requirements, proper construction techniques, etc.  It sounds like code inspectors have an important job.  And they do…but there are problems with the system.

Part of the problem can be assigned to the fact that AHJs are severely overworked.  These guys are busier than a one legged man in an $#@ kicking contest.  They literally do not have the time to spend  more than 20 minutes on any one home.  These conditions leave many mistakes in their wake.  Then there is the darker side of things….

It’s a small world, and that can work against you as a home buyer.  For you see, builders see the same code inspectors on a daily basis. They develop relationships with these people–dare I say….friendships.  It’s at this time, lines begin to get thin and start to blur…and before you know it, approval stickers get handed out of car windows with a hearty pat on the back.  This means the building codes people put so much stock in can be worth less than a million shares of Enron.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are many, many hard working, honest, GOOD code inspectors.  But I assure you not all of them are.  60% of the things I write up during a home inspection are against code, and should have been caught long before any home inspector ever set foot on the property.  Things such as improperly installed water heaters, stairs that aren’t constructed correctly, attic framing that’s  just flat out wrong.  The list goes on and on.

What does all this mean to me?

Even better question.  It means you should take some things with a grain of salt.  Perhaps your new dream home was checked during the building process by the most scrupulous code inspector on the planet.  Perhaps not…the cold hard truth is that today’s homes are not built to yesterday’s standards.  Materials have gotten cheaper in quality.  Laborers don’t take pride in their work.  It’s  bad recipe.

I hate being all doom and gloom. Perhaps it’s the cynical side of me.  But, when you see fifteen water heaters every month that have been “checked” by a code inspector and they are not even close to being installed correctly, it makes one think.  The system is flawed…

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Ben Hendricks

owner at ABI Home Services
Hi, I'm Ben, and I inspect houses.I grew up with a hammer in my hand, and have been a professional home inspector for 10 years.My blog is here for info about Home Inspections around the Louisville KY area, and just about anything construction related.
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