Code fights

I know you guys don’t do “code” but we do seem to have some code fights here. If this is offensive I applogize. Feel free to step in and stop it.

I do think there may be some value tho. If nothing else you can get a better understanding of how two AHJs reading from the same book can come up with such different intrepretations. I have been in IAEI meetings where guys from the same small town had different views on the same article. It is an eye opener. In the end, “code” is what the AHJ says it is I guess.
This also points out the analogy of arguing with an inspector and wrestling in the mud with a pig. Pretty soon you figure out they enjoy it. :wink:

I guess this is just thinking out loud. Thought you would have a ‘secret’ to getting into agreement with the AHJ. Since my only rules I have is this.

  1. The AHJ is always right.
  2. If the AHJ is clearly wrong, referr to rule #1.


Guys code fights are just like wife fights no winners but it sure makes one feel better. Been in the trades all my life and never known two electricians, plumbers or HVAC to totally agree. That is what makes life so interesting:D </IMG>

I was a code inspector for 8 years and I never really had a code fight with a trade that we couldn’t resolve in a rational discussion of what the code said and where the hazard really was. Sometimes I actually ended up agreeing with the installer. Inspecting is not about keeping score, it is about keeping things safe. I kept them honest by actually looking at stuff. I didn’t mind climbing up in the attic or out on the roof to get a better look. I would open up a box or move something heavy in a heartbeat if I thought they were trying to hide something. On the other hand, I have gone out to my car and got a piece of wire to fix something so we could move on.

This was really more of a hobby for me than a career since I knew it was a transitional position. The state was transitioning from no real inspection on state jobs to throwing it back to the local AHJ. They said it would last 3 years (my original contract) It went 8.

I really owe it all to Joe Tedesco. He was my mentor.

See, now I don’t buy into this.

AHJ’s are human. Humans make mistakes. NO ONE is infallible.

Here is my version on this:

  1. The AHJ is always right.
  2. If the AHJ is clearly wrong, show him where in the code book.

That is what reasonable people do, discuss their differences. Nothing wrong with a good honest discussion or argument for that matter as as long as one keeps a smile on their face.:smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

Thanks Greg, I remember one heated discussion we had concerning an UG sleeve.

AHJ’s, many times, are forced to make “political” interpretations when applying codes within their jurisdictions.

The code book is, sometimes for the AHJ, simply a guideline but…as you know…the code book allows for their discretion to interpret and relieves them of any liability (provided that they actually perform an inspection) for their interpretations.

No matter how off-the-wall the inspector is in his finding — the designer and/or installer is still legally liable should an accident or incident occur.

This is why, as home inspectors (and not “code” inspectors) we exercise the license to apply what we know about the needs of our clients in place of the specific codes.

A certain railing of a certain height on a deck might meet code, but knowing that our client intends to put a child’s trampoline on that space…we will recommend a higher railing. In a home where a 100 amp service has adequately served a modern family for decades, I know of my client’s plans to build a recording studio (or something else that will significantly increase the demand for electricity) in his basement. Local codes define 100 amps as sufficient, but I will still recommend an upgrade to 200 amps to meet the needs of my client. And so on, and so on…

“Codes” are “the box” that installers and designers are required to operate within. Home inspectors are required to think outside of that box in order to serve their client and to address the practicalities of living within the home that they intend to buy.

And even the AHJ…in his interpretation…is sometimes influenced by practicality and other factors that leaves people later to wonder “what the heck was that guy thinking when he approved this?”

As a home inspector, you are allowed, even encouraged to comment on “design” issues that are out of the scope of code inspections. Even as a code inspector I would bring up design issues but I made it clear this was just a suggestion and had nothing to do with signing off on the code compliance.

This really starts to sound like attorneys picking a contract apart.
It is always said in life that you will always find different interpretations on everything, sometimes we scratch our heads and wonder whats the purpose. In the end its 50 50.
I think we should use that line more often “its how I interpret it”

Although home inspections are not about code compliance or violations, many HI’s use some basic provisions of current codes (either directly, or indirectly from HI references) as a guide to what is considered safe.

So I think discussing those code provisions or reading about them is helpful for many inspectors … particularly electrical codes which can seem like another language at first.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

I dont enjoy it when Electricians wrestle with me (The AHJ ) in the field…once they find out I am right they say they are sorry and FIX the problems I have reported.:wink:

OH…and for the ONE person who will say I am not the AHJ when I am in the field…WRONG…I am it…as given authority by the Chief Building Official which is granted us by the State of Virginia.

I was in a strange position, ultimate authority I was the AHJ but no real power. I couldn’t really shut down the job but I could screw with a contractor’s money (just call “Penny” at the office and tell her to lose the paperwork). If they were guv’mint workers there wasn’t really much I could do to them. I worked with logic and diplomacy but I never walked away from anything that I thought was unsafe. Best job I ever had.

My take on this is somewhat different, and requires understaning of the conditions in our area (your conditions may vary :wink: )

Chicago is the 900 lb. gorilla, in this area. Chicago is very union heavy (it’s called votes, and has lead to patronage). The Chicago building dept. is, generally, a revolving door employment center for union contractors, especially those who are union connected (and can make or break a political candidate’s election results :mrgreen: )

Plus, Chicago has codes that find their origians in the Great Chicago Fire. This was a great opportunity for a) the democrats to take over the city (which was overwhelmingly republican, before the fire), b) the “little people” (mostly Irish, but also Polish and Greek and Italian immigrants) to take over and c) a BIG building boom (and the first big federally subsidized building boom) to replace the destroyed housing. About 60% of the existing 3 to 42 flat apartment buildings (most, now, converted to condos) were built in the 50 years between the fire and the start of the Great Depression, with 50% built between 1919 (end of WW I) and 1928 (the beginnings of the Great Depression). I owned 12 3 to 6 flats, in Chicago, and all were built between 1922 and 1925.

After the great porch collapse of 2003 has lead to the recent Illinois court decision, which has determined that “local code inspectors have no liability for personal injury or property damage in the event that residential property is not in substantial compliance with building codes”.

Please understand. Illinois is a “home rule” state. This means that any municipality of 10,000 or more can set, any way the want, their own local building codes (with the exception of the state plumbing code, but Chicago is the exception).

I work in 92 different municipalities, with 92 different local AHJ codes, and many of them are contridictory.

So, in Illinois, local code officials have NO responsibility (they cannot, by state law and case law) be sued if the mess up, but have ALL the authority (i.e. can shut down construction).

Home inspectors have responsibility (we can be sued for missing “defects”, but have no authority. The Illinois State HI law REQUIRES us to call things out according to “Current Construction Standards (i.e., the current national codes)” and no local AHJs have adopted these codes (the are usually, about 2 to 4 years behind).

Quite a quandry, eh? :wink:

Ya…What Will said…:D:D

Yous gotts a problem with dat???:wink:

Doesn’t have to make sense just have the “City guys” OK it…:roll:

Service disconnect on the A/C compressor directly on the cover with no ground wire in FMC… NEC 440-14…SOOOOO WHAT… Vibration at the EMC…roof protrusion of conduit…“sealed with roofing tar”… …SOOOO WHAT…

Green wire to neutral buss in distribution panel…SOOOO what …city inspector said “it’s OK” STUPID home inspector!!!:roll:

Please Note: Pat is, most probably, the best human reference source for the Chicago Building code. A veritable Joe Tedesco for the Chicago code.

Don’t be fooled by his, somewhat, unorthodox grammer. Please understand that he had a minor accident, a year ago, and doesn’t talk (or type) so good anymore :mrgreen:

Hope this helps;


I ain’t NO CODE exxPERT!! If I was then I would be totally confused beyond repair and or isane sanitorium commited to a sanitorium for insane…
Nust wackos loose hex wrench!

Please note: this is just the brain damage talking.

Hope this helps;

Will is tooo modest to admit he is **very very well versed **in the Code(s) in the 92 jurisdiction around this area.

I do not have this “code” knowledge nor do I understand 2/3 thirds of the multi-phone book sized City of Chicago codes… I would have to been on Prozac and horse tranquilizers dropped in a bottle of scotch and ouzo to begin to interpret them…

I can only say in my honest opinion that the cumulative patch work of adjectives used in our “fine code books” leads one to believe that current building codes are so unclear that any interpretation is just fine…

I am surprised more people don’t die everyday in this city from building issues…:shock: