Home Inspection Vs Code Inspection.
Many people think that a Home Inspection and the city’s building code inspection are the same, They are not and here is why.
A code inspection is usually done during the original construction, although there are exceptions. It actually consists of a series of inspections (3 or more) done at various stages of completion, when it’s still possible to see things that will be covered or enclosed later. Code inspection and enforcement varies quite a bit from one place to another, even though the codes are fairly similar. Budgets, manpower, economic climate, and good ole’ politics are all factors. Code inspectors are generally overloaded, underpaid, and under pressure from one or more sides to bend things this way or that to suit a particular interest. Their primary obligation is to the public body that employs them, and to the people as a whole in the larger sense. Building codes themselves are complex, sometimes arbitrary, often difficult to interpret, and seem to change every other day. Codes were originated for safety (and uniformity). That’s still the main focus, but more side issues are being squeezed in every day.
A home inspection is usually done well after construction, although there are exceptions. It normally consists of a single comprehensive inspection, and has to do the best it can with what can be visually inspected or tested, and the clues provided. Home inspection varies quite a bit from state to state and from one inspector to another. Laws and regulations, training, experience, background, money, and good ‘ole politics are all factors. Home inspectors are generally under-loaded (here), adequately paid, and under pressure from one or more sides to bend things this way or that to suit a particular interest. Their primary obligation is to the client (if they are honest). “Standards” (the home inspection equivalent of codes) are complex, sometimes arbitrary, occasionally difficult to interpret, and hardly change at all. Home inspections were originated for buyer protection. That’s still the main focus, but more variations are being tried every day.
The big differences are when it happens, what it includes / excludes, and who needs it Inspector liability, and what can be done about issues identified.
A code inspection tells you what the conditions were (when it was built). A home inspection tells you what the conditions are now (on the day of the inspection), and what may need to be done about them.
Another issues is how are the different components installed. The International Building Code state that it must be installed per code or per the manufactures installation instructions. It is next to impossible for any single human being to know the installation instructions for every building component or appliance and identify every issue (or potential issue) during an inspection.
Code inspections include things like minimum or maximum allowable this or that, which home inspections do not typically address. Home inspections include things like the overall performance of a given system, that code inspections don’t typically address.
Code inspections are mostly a builders’ concern, and should be universal. Home inspections are mostly a buyers’ concern, and should be universal.
Most Code inspections are performed for a municipality and the inspector along with the municipality have little to no liability. Most Home Inspectors are required to be bonded or insured and can be held liable if they do not properly report on conditions present at the time of the inspection.
Home inspectors may state something does not meet Current building codes however that does not mean that it was not originally installed to code.
Many people ask; If the City already performed a building inspection, do I need a home Inspection?
Yes. When the building Code inspection occurs the inspector typically spends less than 30 minutes at the property, where as a home inspector will spend 2-3 hours inspecting the property.
The building inspection occurs during construction and sometimes contractors change things after they pass the building inspection. While a home inspection can be performed during construction, most of the time they are performed after construction is complete.
The building inspector approves the utilities to be turned on, the home inspector test the utilities (electric, water etc.,) after they have been turned on.
Most code inspectors do not inspect the roof, However inspectors are required to inspect the roof and report on its conditions.
The bottom line is while Code inspectors are knowledgeable and perform a very useful service, they are underpaid and over worked and can not spend the time at a property that a professional home inspector can.
If you want to make sure that you are getting a quality home, hire an independent home inspector to perform inspections during construction and just before closing.