"Code-certified" Claims Can Lead to Unexpected Problems for Inspectors

Great article, Nick!

When I got into this business 20+ years ago mentioning code was an absolute no-no. The idea was (and what seems to have come to fruition in the cited case) is that when you talk about code in one area of a house a buyer is led to believe you will cite every code deficiency in a given house.

While a very knowledgeable inspector who is extremely familiar with the jurisdiction he/she is in may be able to inspect to code on a new/newer house, it is totally impossible on older houses and/or houses in areas that deviate from the standard code very much (remember, jurisdictions can make their own rules).

I personally feel that as inspectors we have become our own worst enemies by promising too much and thinking we know too much with respect to codes. There is just no way for any one person to know every building code for every year/cycle for every jurisdiction they inspect in. And most importantly… we’re not being paid to do this so why are we trying?


The real problem regarding Building Codes is that they equal the lowest acceptable standard, for builders that means “we can’t build it any cheaper, if we could we would”.

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I constantly see newer or naive inspectors get online and say … I saw this OR that and I need a code reference for it so I don’t get pushback from the agents … WTF

I’m in a 20 yr old house in the county and the deck is 14’ off the ground. The gaps in the railings are 12" wide. My buyer has a very active 4 yr old. I could care less what codes were OR were not in place 20 yrs ago. Its a safety concern and is reported as such with a recommendation to correct OR upgrade it for safety.

AFTER I say it I could care less if anybody does anything with it or not. If important to my client its up to them to negotiate for it / repair it themselves / OR do nothing. NOT my concern anymore.

AND sorry Ms/Mr agent or seller BUT pushback is NOT allowed, GET IT

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That’s a stretch. If you are ICC code certified you should use that as a promotional credit. ICC certifies inspectors NOT individual houses. Statements that indicate the house is ICC code compliant will definitely get you into trouble. But to say you are ICC code certified indicates a quality about yourself not the house.

That is such a hackneyed, overused and misleading statement. Building codes are now and have always been, SAFETY standards. The ICC and the BOCA, SBCC and ICBO before them have never purported to be QUALITY standards not now and not ever. If you want to conflate the two that is your own mistake.

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Yes, it is a strong perception which tends to highlight the economic costs over the safety value