Healthy Homes 3: Housing Regulations Course

This thread is dedicated exclusively for those students currently enrolled in InterNACHI’s free, online Healthy Homes 3: Housing Regulations Course.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to understand: the history of housing laws; zoning codes; zoning ordinances; and housing codes.

Students are free to pose questions and comments here and join in the conversation with other students. The thread will be monitored by the course instructor.

Contact: Chief Academic Officer, Ben Gromicko ben@internachi.org

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Housing Codes are designed to keep occupants, as well as the community, safe and sanitary conditions. It dictates the minimum standards that must be met to authorize occupancy. The standards are inspected periodically to insure that the standards are being met and the guidelines adhered to.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Building code violations can result in the order of unlawful occupancy or ensuring no one resides in a residence unless the safety or health violations which caused the order are corrected. These notices are placed in prominent spots such as the entry doors to the residence.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Infrared cameras are a good tool for performing roof inspections. They can be utilized after a standard roof inspection in order to locate areas that are wet or dry. This can indicate possible need for further inspection for possible problem areas.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I reviewed the course regarding Inspectors Tools. I was already aware of the tools that one could use on the job. Some of the test sets, although a little expensive, make the task at hand a great deal easier. A very good example is the infrared thermography test set. It provides quick isolation to troubles that could potentially be overlooked.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Proper egress is required from each sleeping area in the event of a fire. This window must meet minimum requirements for an occupant to successfully escape. These measurements include: distance from the floor, clear width, clear height, and overall opening size. The building code sets these dimensions. Any below grade bedroom that does not incorporate such a window should not be used as a sleeping area.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Zoning regulations vary based on municipality, but generally they are separated into three groups: residential, commercial, and industrial. Sometimes they overlap causing a mixed use property, this is generally between residential and commercial. Zoning is a way for the government to protect the public’s health, welfare, and safety. These regulations are mainly in place to provide economic development as well as protect property values. Following your jurisdictions zoning laws is important as violations can lead to fines and other legal troubles.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This dwelling is likely in an R-1 zoned location. It could also be classified as a lesser-use dwelling located in an R-2 or R-3 zoned area. Zoning ordinances are used to protect the occupants of the dwelling as well as the surrounding community.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The image selected is of a blocked egress window. The local housing code would likely incorporate the requirement there be at least two means of emergency egress to a safe and open area at ground level. The local building code would likely go further and require two means of egress from all sleeping areas.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This property is under investigation for a possible code violation due to the unkept lawn and unprotected swimming pool. The zoning laws state that all swimming pools must have a protective surrounding and lawns be maintained under 6 of height.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Ladder safety is a crucial part of personal safety during an inspection. There are many different styles, types, and ratings for ladders. Ladders can be a very useful tool and can be very dangerous. User error is often the deciding factor when an Inspector is injured. It is important to know how to carry, set-up, climb, and descend a ladder. It is important to remember that walking a roof is not a requirement of the inspection.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The attached photo is an example of a non conforming use in Le Mars, IA. The Wells Family established a dairy in 1913 and started in this location. Over the years homes were built in the same district as there were no ordinances in place. The family expanded the business several times before building in a new industrial zone in the 1990’s. The existing facility continues to exist as shown and has bought many of the residential properties and moved them to allow for a “quiet” zone around the ice cream facility.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Zoning Ordinances for Inspectors lays out the value of being familiar with local zoning ordinances if working with a client in the purchase of property or when modifying their own property as it relates to local codes. While it does fall outside the scope of an inspection, the information can be valuable in advising the client on options that may be available to them without offering legal advice.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This photo is of a “Water Closet” or a toilet that has it’s own room. This is in a high end home and there is a sink and bathing facilities near this toilet, but not in the photo. At times in my inspection career I have seen toilet installed without a permit that do not have a sink for handwashing nearby. I always note this sanitary hazard to the buyers of the property.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I read an article on bamboo Construction and Inspection. I have seen bamboo in use in Asia and was on a small “houseboat” made of bamboo for several days. When we arrived at our destination the bamboo vessel was disassembled for some other use. I learned bamboo is strong length wise but not so strong width wise, except at the nodes. It is also prone to splitting, especially if screws, bolts or nails are used. Vines or rope is commonly used to fasten bamboo members.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This photo is a very clear example of why housing and building codes are needed. The house in this picture was less than one year old when it developed a problem with the patio sliding glass door not opening or closing properly. The contractor was informed and the sheetrock was removed to find improper framing around the door. Just imagine how poor construction practices would be without housing codes.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article “Building a Home” makes it very clear that anyone contemplating purchasing land and building a home should be aware of construction standards and codes. Another very important point that needs to be addressed is having a good working knowledge of all types of contracts that are involved in the purchasing of land, construction of a house and all the other legal requirements that are involved in building your dream home.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

This photo shows a wooden kitchen cabinet that has extensive damage caused by water leak. The water supply was turned of and disconnected. There is no longer running water in the kitchen for cooking or cleanup. This left multiple residents cooking outdoors.

Research & Writing Assignment:

Human health is directly related to the conditions we live in. It is for that reason that building codes were adopted and must continue to be unforced. We spend about 70% of our time in our homes so unsanitary conditions and pest infestation can have a serious adverse affect on our lives.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Inspectors now a day need to be more knowledgeable and fluent into local residential and building code(s) in their local communities and areas of operation. Even though many of the houses that home inspectors may encounter during their tenure that were built prior to the modern enforced code requirement. Knowing the “standards” and sharing them with their clients, can be beneficial as far as safety and insurability of the home. More information about a home is never a bad thing.