Inspection and Building Code

Hello Everyone, I’m a new member and I’m proud and happy to be part of this wonderful and collaborative community of professional inspectors around the world.
My first post is that a home inspector is a professional advisor, no more than an advisor and what I came to know from one of the courses, that the duty of the Home Inspector is NOT to report a building code violation for different reasons and one of those reasons is that the house might be built long before the issuance of the building code or any of its omissions, additions, amendments…etc. However, when we inspect any visible and accessible element we check it against a specific guidance, standards or figures, and those standards are extracted from the Building Code itself. So My argument is that at the time we all adhere to the InterNachi SOP and we use our professional experience, knowledge and the guidance of the Building Code, but we should refrain from reporting Building Code Violation, taking into consideration that the Building Code supersedes any building standard(s) including InterNachi guidance.

The 2nd argument, is that for the majority of the civil and architectural designs the “safety factor” is always attributed to the safety of infants and children and not the adults, like in the design of stairs, windows, doors…etc, however, I did not notice in many of InterNACHI’s courses what is the safety factor, precaution or reason behind a specific figure, i.e. “WHY” that specific figure and not any other figure? I’m sure that no professional advisor wants to memorise any specific figure(s) “blindly” without having an idea about “WHY” is that specific figure or standard, so we can empower our clients with an informative and educational decision rather than just saying it’s “InteNachi SOP” or it’s the “Building Code”.

Thank you

We need knowledge of the building codes as they are a minimum safety standard for all homes across Canada. When we do a home inspection we are relying on our knowledge to report what we see. We report in a way that it does not reference a specific building code.
I will give you an idea as to what I mean:

A set of stairs does not have a hand rail on it. We know that it is considered as unsafe because someone could fall down the stairs and have nothing to hold onto. Is this a minimum code requirement as well? The answer is yes.

In my report I will write:
The basement stairs did not have a handrail. Modern safety requirements suggest that any stairs that are more than three steps or higher including the platform should have a graspable handrail from the top nosing to the bottom nosing. Recommend a handrail be installed by a licensed contractor for safety.

What I just said skirts the National Building Code but I made no reference to it.

The second part of your OP states that minimum requirements are mostly for children. That is because they are the most vulnerable people that may get hurt. They are smaller and don’t understand that it could hurt you.

My best advice is to not look so hard into this. Just do your job to your best ability. Knowledge is power but it can also bite you in the assets.

Thank you Greg, your answer is so helpful and I do agree with what you’ve said, but the question is still, 'Why" we refrain from mentioning that the finding is not as per the building code if we are 100% sure about it and despite the fact that it is posing a safety hazard? we can encapsulate our finding or recommendations with whatever we believe is going to reduce the risk of liabilities and our client’s safety and investment, and I think that referring to the Building Code is a helpful support. Maybe I’m wrong with this conclusion.

Actually more than 2 rises requires a handrail at the interior, 3 at the exterior :wink:

Thank You Wayne,

This has been covered ad nauseam elswhere in the forum as I recall. If you quote code in your report you exceed the SOP in a way that creates potential liability and virtually guarantees you will have conflicts with your clients at some point; namely when you miss something code-related, small or large, you have created the expectation that you are the code authority/expert and that every violation would be called out.

We have no authority to ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ a home; quoting code is not adding value or helping most homeowners, if it isn’t to code we can’t cite the seller or make them fix anything. As long as you catch and call out all the defects- in the manner stated above, that is what they need and are paying us for. When questioned, or if a contractor disagrees and they call you about it you can always explain verbally your reasoning, though it should be clear enough from your report wording. Check out other posts on this for more lively discussions…

Yes,you are correct. I was just giving an example.

also, you will have to study not the current code, but each revision all the way back…

Few are required to update a home to code upon sale. Imagine building a structure in 1974 up to the standard of the 2012 code? So to inspect and cite code you’d have to know what they were using 40 years ago too, and then cite outdated code. Not a lot of use to that either.

In our licensing laws here in Alberta, it clearly states that we are not to cite code. My guess is that Ontario will have similar verbiage. Jamin explained it very well.

A safety hazard will always be a safety hazard and should be reported that way whether it is code or not. Are you going to cite references to the applicable sections and subsections of the code book? If you are not prepared to do that you would be well advised to listen what the experience people have already told you. Greg M is a journeyman carpenter as well as a home inspector.

The inherent danger in quoting code is that a client or other “person” may interpret that once started on the building code references, where does that responsibility end?

From a legal perspective - the inspector has only reported part of the whole picture regarding the conditions in a home/property.

What about fire codes, plumbing codes, electrical codes, etc? What about TSSA standards, etc?

Keep it simple, and I simply suggest that one stick to the term or reference as “building standard or material standard”. After all if you look into most every building code they reference other “material and building standards”.

I maintain that knowledge and studies of “building codes” makes the home inspector more aware of what “standards” are out there. More so it provides a benchmark or guideline for the inspector to report building conditions.

So the net result being “how” conditions are reported, versus those that start quoting sections and subsections of “code”, or simply state to a client “that this doesn’t meet code”!

Hello everyone

 My name is , Ron Arter I am new to internachi as of today , I have no current questions but I'm sure I will, I am looking forward to success in the home inspection field and may lean on all of you on occasion to ensure that I am up to speed on the subjects at hand . thank you in advance . have a great day . Ron Arter


Bassam …

Pointers. You ain’t the code guy. Like somebody already said whats code today HAS little to do with what was code in 1936. Wanta look real stupid … Write a report and tell your client something in a 1936 house is NOT up to current code, THEN cite that code. Anal retentive buyer asks seller to fix this BECAUSE its not up to code. Seller OR listing REA call city code guy AND tell him about your comments. Code Guy tells them the HOME inspector is dumber than a box of rocks CAUSE that was NOT a code requirement back when.

NOW that they’ve discredited you EVERYTHING in your report is questionable to buyer or seller and REA’s.

Therefore we talk about “Current Building Standards” would recommend …