No AFCIs for living areas...time to write it up?

Anyone writing them up for being absent, even if not required by the AHJ?

Think about this:

Currently, your AHJ does not enforce the requirement for AFCIs in living areas. The new house you just inspected didn’t have them and you didn’t mention their absence in your report because “it’s not required”. Pretend that the national code for AFCIs in living areas get’s adopted next year by your AHJ. Three or ten years from now, the same home gets inspected by another home inspector. He writes up AFCIs for being absent in living areas, knowing that national codes called for them in 2008 and he doesn’t keep track of when each AHJ decided to finally enforce it. The homeowner will then have to buy the AFCIs at about $40 each and install them to sell the house to the next buyer. If there’s a shared neutral on the circuit, the retrofit could be very expensive in electrician costs. You, the home inspector they used to love, now looks bad for not having written them up when the house was new.

This is how I write up GFCIs: If they aren’t present at all counter-top outlets in the kitchen for a home built after 1996, I write it up as a significant issue and recommend “repair” (not an upgrade). Period. It is likely, however, that the AHJ didn’t require them beginning in 1996. Too bad. I write their absence anyway.

I’m just thinking that we need to write up the absence of AFCIs NOW on new construction regardless. Put in a statement that it may not yet be adopted, but we recommend it.

I did a home today that had the child-proof outlets, but not AFCIs in living areas. The outlets were there because of a company policy (they operate in different states/counties and just do it everywhere whether required by the AHJ or not).


Do you write up the absence of a sprinkler system?

That response doesn’t deserve a reply.

The 2009 IRC calls for them in new structures…same principle that you are using regarding AFCIs.

I thought you meant an irrigation system. Sorry.

I currently recommend AFCI in all bedrooms .
Not sure I would call that writing it up as a term,because it sounds like I am a code authority.

What a guy in the star Trek future calls out or writes up is not my concern.

First off, the gfci comment…
Why use a code date to start recommending gfci’s in the summary for areas that have been determined to be higher risk areas? You have told me before that you did not use code dates if you felt it was a safety issue.
I recommend gfci protection for all normal/typical gfci areas even on a 1930 house and put it in the summary.

One of the nice things about having a report that contains a “summary” (as we are required to call it in NC) is the ability to have the report body section for entering additional information and upgrades. Some of the upgrades I report now may become a summary item in the future as more tangible information becomes available.

We have limited information about any house fires actually prevented by AFCI’s so they are just one of those nice new advances that are slowly making its way into construction. If you feel they are very important then you should report it in the summary but you should make it known that the absence of these is typical in many areas. Some areas don’t even require them on bedroom circuits yet. Don’t forget that a city or county can file for an exemption to leave out parts of a state code if they want to.

Don’t forget, lack of a GFCI leaves no backup system, someone can die pretty easily. Lack of an AFCI AND the existence of an issue that WILL combust into a fire still leaves the smoke detectors as a backup as well as the likely chance the regular type breaker will just trip from an arc.

I still do not understand the idea of writing up AFCIs for new construction and not sprinkler systems.

It doesn’t make sense.

This thread is another good example of why home inspections and code inspections are done by two different job descriptions.

For most inspectors, I think, if they start seeing something a lot on new construction and then do not see it on one then they will write it up.

Joe and I work in two states, 6-8 counties and countless townships and cities so we see a wide variety of new and old construction. For the average house, a knowledgeble code inspector could find 10k-15k worth of code issues. The problem is that he would be technically wrong on some since the AHJ had opted out of enforcing many of them.

The bottom line is, if you think a house needs a sprinkler system then by all means call it out and say the occupant could die with out it. Your opinion is never wrong when recommending the addition of safety systems.

I’ve been a code inspector.

A code inspector has no liability, for he is indemnified by the city…as long as he actually does the inspection. He can never be wrong and he spends, usually, less than thirty minutes on site.

Code is not an indicator of safety or quality. Code is nothing more than a minimum basic standard. A house that simply meets the minimum basic standard is assured of being “safe” as much as a newly licensed inspector (who has also simply met a minimum basic standard) is assured of doing a “perfect” inspection.

Codes are a starting point. Less than code is illegal. That is all we should know or care about them, IMO.

If you are NOT going to go all the way and recommend every safety feature in the latest code…don’t refer to any. Simply use your best judgment, make your recommendations, and move on to the next house.

For an inspector that wants to inspect to the latest code, which one do they use? Chinese code? Russian code? IRC? yes? Why the IRC if the AHJ has chosen to not use all of the IRC?

You are making up your own code when you do not know what the local AHJ has chosen to enforce and yes they DO NOT try to enforce all of the code and they even miss some other parts that they intended to enforce.

Write up items based on your knowledge based on codes etc not the code you wished was enforced.

Making up his own code is the nature of the opening post on this thread, I believe.

You are no safer in basing your recommendations on the code being enforced than you are any other code. I can tell you from experience that codes, where enforced, are not enforced consistently. Exceptions are regularly granted. You have no way of knowing during an inspection if the builder was granted permission to deviate from a particular requirement or not.

Go with what you know to be the best building practice and recommend accordingly.

I saw a long run on a dryer vent the other day on a commercial project. The architect specified a particular make/model number of the dryer and showed the long run in the plans. Bingo, it now passes code where it would normally not.

Comments? (I wouldn’t put it in a Summary section.)

“The electrical system does not include arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) for 15 and 20 amp branch circuits protecting rooms such as family rooms, living rooms, dining rooms, offices, libraries, dens, sun rooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms which effective 2008 were mandated by nationally recognized electrical standards. We do not know if your particular county has adopted the 2008 standards and we do not know if the permit was initiated on this home before the effective date of the rule implementation. Therefore, we suggest that you consult with your local building code enforcement office about this matter. Note that we consider AFCIs an important safety feature and consideration should be given to upgrading the circuits regardless of the regulatory requirements in effect at the time of construction.”

Didn’t you use “code” in making an initial judgment that the length was too “long”?

Sounds good!

Will you go to the trouble of keeping up with the adoption dates of each locale so that you can put it in the summary when necessary?

Only part of the code.

Where IRC allows for 25 feet of dryer vent, elsewhere in the code book it allows for the manufacturer’s instructions to take precedent. Maytag, for example, has a model that allows 45 feet of dryer vent. Apparently, the architect studied the manufacturers instructions and selected a model that provided the length he needed. Accordingly, it meets “code”

Not really, my memory is pretty good and ability to estimate distances is good so it is more like recalling nachi discussions and website info like this link

I don’t look for exact length issues since there is more to it than just elbows and pipe length such as the make and model of the dryer.

Also it helped to have a foreman onsite with 30 years experience that had the plans handy. :smiley:


Sprinkler systems are not required to be installed in new construction (single family) until 2011. AFCIs are required in new construction (basically living space) in the 2008 NEC.

That is true Robert, but that does not mean that the 08 has been adopted in that area. In my experience some areas are several code cycles behind the most current edition.

While I agree with many of the points and there has been some good points raised I don’t see the issue with a future sale. Since the code is not retroactive there is no mandate to install something that was not required when the house was built. While it might be a good practice and help to futureproof the building we all know the bottom line is how much adding above the code will cost. Someone needs to be willing to pay and a builder focused on cost alone is not going to foot the bill. This should be a negotiated item for the buyers and sellers, nothing more.

Would you now require all the new circuitry like for kitchen and baths for a house that was built in the 60s? Where would you draw the line in making a home meet current standards? Texas aside, is it really realistic to list something as a defect if it didn’t possibly exist when the house was built.