Thanks for jumping in! I have emailed you on the backside.
Thanks for jumping in! I have emailed you on the backside.
This is how it typically goes down in the Great State of Texas. One smaller Berg near me that is growing very fast reported over 5200 actual inspections by the Building Inspection Department in one month alone. That AHJ has 2 Inspectors and the CBO. You can see where this is going.
There is so much building going on here that many AHJ’s are contracting out their inspections to a Third Party inspection Service (TPIS) since they just don’t have the manpower to perform them. The larger, and possibly some smaller, TPIS’ also perform quality control inspections for the very same builders they are performing the AHJ inspections for.
Another tactic here is the Builder hires the TPIS, for foundations their own Engineer does the inspections, and they submit those reports to the AHJ. The AHJ may show on site for a quick Lookie Loo and then they’re gone. Again the TPIS the Builder hires may be performing some of that AHJ’s inspections.
Here you don’t have the Fox Guarding The Hen House but instead The Whole Skulk Guarding The Hen House! And of course the buyer is the one that gets the short end of the stick. Here the concept is “Get them built and start collecting the property taxes”. Anything that slows that down is frowned upon.
They’re not concerned about quality, only about code compliance.
Proper code enforcement will ensure the dwelling (for the most part) is built to meet today’s safety and performance standards, both being quality characteristics. It is also the AHJ’s job to ensure the dwelling is constructed as shown in the approved plans. For example, the nailing may not be pretty, however, the nail still has to penetrate the wood a certain depth, cannot be overdriven, must follow proper schedule, etc… this yields performance, aka quality.
This is beginning to make sense now… as to why I see all these posts by the guys from down south doing new construction inspections. I asked several times but nobody answered. Must be a big trade secret down there
Now the question is… are these TPIS supposed to perform a code inspection (one would assume)? if so, who are these TPIS? home inspection guys/firms? who trains them?
PS: I thought you guys were hardcore red down there and did everything by the book, rules and all… darn, sounds just like how they do things up here, the good ol’ blue state
In my experience what Simon said above only applies to the mechanical inspections. The local building inspectors do a poor job of foundation and framing inspections. I have two new construction clients where the builder built the wrong model home and the local inspector didn’t even notice! Things like this sill plate overhang are definitely not going to be found by them. They don’t do a good job with foundation and framing inspections. They may catch some easy things like missing hangers or nails, but they aren’t going to do an in depth framing inspection that really looks at the quality of the installation. In reality they are specifically told not to do this and just push the production building along without making big waves. It’s rare for me to do a pre drywall inspection with less than 20-25 framing comments alone. This is typically after the framing inspection has been passed already by the municipal inspector. Every single Ryan Homes build in this country has a major framing defect which none of them catch. You can see my previous posts about this. But this is good because it opens the door for us as private inspectors to be able to come in and offer these buyers a better inspection.
The sill plate issue here requires multiple repairs for proper support and attachment. Good catch.
There is some sort of misunderstanding. I never claimed that building inspectors do their job as they should. In fact, the opposite, read my PS comment.
However, are you telling me all the comments in your reports have nothing to do with code in any way, shape, or form? lack of proper enforcement by the AHJ does not mean most, if not all, of your findings are not part of a code directly or indirectly. If they are told not to do their job, it does not mean it passed a code inspection. It just means they are corrupt crooks that are scamming the public at the expense of the public’s tax money.
Once again, if a code inspection is executed properly by a code official, then the building will be safe and perform as designed per today’s building standards. Kenton implied otherwise. He stated that just because a building is code compliant it does not mean it will be of “quality”. My reply was specifically in regard to what a code inspection is meant to accomplish.
Simon I was not attacking you in any way, just sharing some of my experiences. I didn’t say anything about code in my post. Code enforcement or references are a big debate in this industry in general. Lots of arguments in both directions there. Seems to be an eternal debate.
There are ways to work around it though. You can reference the concepts in the code without referencing the specific code sections. And code doesn’t really address many things that best installation practices, manufacturer’s instructions, and common sense do. Everyone should remember that the manufacturer’s installation procedures trump the code in almost every case and this gives us lots of ways to address defects and issues with new construction inspections.
This entire thread is about a phase inspection that is based on code. I was trying to understand why home inspectors are performing them down south. In my state, it is illegal for a home inspector to perform a phase inspection.
Typically here we are also allowed (Builder approves access) to perform the inspection after the AHJ has inspected (??). Some times the Builder does not expect it and they fail the AHJ inspection just before we come in. Yes the AHJ’s miss so much but again as in my post above they rely to heavily on other TPI’s and it just doesn’t work.
Case in point was this week I did a small, two story town home pre-drywall inspection. The AHJ was in the day before and red tagged it on their inspection. They write their issues on the tag and if any more than can fit they annotate it on the back. This tag was only annotated with about 5 items on the front. I was standing in the living area that has high vaulted ceilings to the second floor ceiling level and above. It was clear span a good distance. I turned around to check for supports, looked up, and Holy Crap! A quad stud pack used for the mid support beam in the vaulted ceiling was spread apart at the bottom. On the other end of the span the ceiling beam was supported only by one King and a series of Jacks/cripples along the two stacked windows. When I got upstairs and looked at the quad stud pack it had been nailed to the baseplate spread apart! How in the heck could anyone have missed such a Slap In The Face issue as it was not called out on the red tag?? Also how could the Builders own QC Inspector miss it??
Framing tends to be the vast majority of issues found in my inspections/reports but I do find plenty of mechanical issues as well. Another example from the same townhome. Clearly at least 1/3 of the rear, including almost all of that large living room with high vaulted ceiling, had no conditioned air supply registers. The on site plans did not include, like most all, an HVAC plan to even reference in the report. Again HTH can anyone miss that??
My smallest report section tends to be electrical. We do have some very good Electricians here working new homes! With one I have a little game where I really, really look hard and the only problems I ever find with their work is after another trade causes the issue.
Yes it opens the door for us but many consumers just don’t understand the importance of having it inspected in phases. They are typically told by their REA and the Builders how fantastic the Builder TPI’s and AHJ are. So they choose not to have the inspections.
First part true but second part debatable. However you are missing one aspect of concern and that is issuing the CO and transferring it to the buyer so they can start collecting taxes on it! If they were concerned about Ref. R101.3, and truly enforced the Codes, then there would be no need for us, building would slow down until Builders got wise they won’t pass, and of course tax revenue collection would slow down greatly which is the main function of a municipality anymore these days!
Because it’s not illegal here in MD and a significant part of my inspection business. It’s a great revenue stream bc you get 3-4 inspections per customer. The demand for them here is probably higher than most places bc the demand for new construction is high here as well. Not a single customer of mine regrets doing the phase inspections privately. I find so many issues that the municipal inspector ignores or misses. It all translates to a better end product for the buyer.
The problem we have here in Texas, and I expect in many places around the country, is that if you do not reference the Building Codes, other relevant standards, manufacturer requirements, plans when available, etc., etc., the Builders treat the report ONLY as an Inspector’s opinions and clients are told this.
There are only three people/entities that can force a Builder to perform as they are required to. The first is the Builder. We know that in many cases that’s not going to happen. The second is the AHJ and we have already been discussing the issues with that. The third is the buyer, our client, who contracted for the Builder to perform to these standards/requirements. As Inspectors we have no authority or power over the Builder. Our only job is to inspect and report properly, which does include references why something was called out, so the client can force the Builder to perform if they so choose to do so.
Here in Texas there are no restrictions from us performing them as long as we do not step into another licensed individuals area (i.e. Engineers with engineering conclusions) and do not represent ourselves as Building Code Officials which are regulated here in Texas.
My business here has shifted over the years to mostly new construction inspections from ground breaking to the after sale One Year Warranty type inspections. I’m happy with that since there are many less hassles with them than inspecting an existing home. An existing home is easier though.
As an inspector, this is not my problem. I am not there to produce an “enforceable” document.
I’m there to observe and report material defects.
The buyer entered this relationship with the builder with all types of limitations.
And the builder is right, it is an inspectors opinion and should be treated as such.
If the buyer wants a technically exhaustive code inspection, they should be ready to pay for that.
I think many inspectors are willing to take great risk beyond the scope of a home inspection to empower their clients. Problem is, as you attack one component with great due diligence, you are likely not going to attack other components with similar scrutiny which will expose the HI.
As I stated in my previous post you are not there to produce an “enforceable document” since you are not a CBO. However you are there to find and report to your client in a way that is productive and useful for them to have their issues resolved.
So with your description of your purpose comes a question. What basis do you use to determine a material defect in new construction that is useful for the client to approach a Builder to correct a defect?
And the other side of the coin is the Builder “entered this relationship” with the buyer under “all types of” requirements to include building to the standards dictated by the municipality, County, State, etc. So what is the purpose of this statement?
If you are unable to educate a client on why you made a call then what is your true purpose? By providing the client the “Authoritative Reference/Reason” for your “opinion” it no longer is your opinion. If the Builder is able to provide the client with an actual requirement you are not privy to, such as plans not available to you, then you are certainly wrong. However it is much better to be proven wrong than to fail to report on a potential serious issue isn’t it?
That is most certainly true! But I certainly don’t offer them as they don’t want to pay for them. In every case though they are not needed since if the Inspector does their job they really do not have to get “technically exhaustive”. They will find way more than enough to prove the point that a particular aspect has not been performed properly. At that point it is useless to list every single example of a problem and instead show enough to make a point and use an aggregate comment calling out for further review. At that point that’s all an Inspector can do and I have had my share of calling out for a full Engineering review of for example framing due to the huge number of errors found.
Don’t bet on this with my work as you are going to lose money! Your statement is very true for the Inspectors who try to perform a 1 or 2 hour pre-drywall phase inspection (as one phase example) on an average size home (average for me is about 3600 Sq. Ft. conditioned). I’ve been behind these Inspectors after the buyer did not like my fee, was very disappointed at the other Inspector who did just that, and called me back to perform a proper inspection.
To add to this, and before you ask, nobody is perfect and everyone is capable of missing something. However properly performing the inspection and report you will either find the actual well built home with few significant issues or enough that it does warrant the Engineer, Electrician, Plumber, HVAC Contractor, etc., full review anyhow.
We are likely in agreement.
I am completely capable of performing a phase inspection without referencing code in my report. A defect is not defect solely because it is not up to code.
It is a problem because it will likely not perform. This is the critical piece of information a client needs.
Now, if you want to shore up your opinion with code reference to “empower” your client, go for it. But it is a slippery slope.
Wow, in Texas you don’t even need a home inspectors license. Anyone can do it.
Emmanuel - I get what you are saying and this is true here in MD too. Legally the code enforcement official is the only person who can force the builder to do anything. Even the buyers don’t have much power here, as they cannot back out of new construction contracts without loosing a significant deposit. They have arbitration clauses, etc.
However I can assure you that my inspections and reports get A LOT of important things fixed for my clients. When you write a report, include lots of pics, and reference relevant construction practices, manufacturer’s installation instructions, etc it becomes really hard for the builders to present an affective counter argument. Here’s an example: I did a new construction inspection recently for a client where the builder did not install the standing seam roof properly. They installed the siding first and did not install the head flashing that covers the seams at the roof to siding intersection. Something a local code enforcement official would never catch. I called it out, put the appropriate manufacturer’s installation instructions and a diagram in the report along with pics of where they just caulked this area instead. That buyer was able to get the roof fixed as a result. If the builder is still not cooperating after taking these steps, I encourage the buyer to share my report with the local building inspector, who then most often ends up siding with my findings because there is evidence to support it. The local building officials do respond to buyers as they kind of have to. These are taxpayers in their jurisdiction.
The builders also know in most of these cases where private inspectors do a good thorough job of inspecting and reporting, that if they end up in arbitration, the builder will lose. There’s no affective counter argument to the example referenced above about the standing seam installation. It’s cheaper for them to fix the roof than end up in arbitration. No attorney that works for a builder is going to want to have to argue against clearly documented defects. So no, I don’t have enforcement powers but still tend to get a lot things enforced anyway. You just have to know how to play the game better than the builders.
You are basically doing the same as I with the only difference being that I put the actual code reference in the report and I do reference the manufacturer requirements. So in essence using your approach essentially does the same thing of not really giving the Builder a defense and educating the client why it is an issue. From there that’s about all we can do and it is now up to the client to push it or let it lay.
BTW let’s use your example of the roof issue. The code reference for it is useless without the manufacturer information anyhow.
R903.1 General. Roof decks shall be covered with approved roof coverings secured to the building or structure in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. Roof assemblies shall be designed and installed in accordance with this code and the approved manufacturer’s instructions such that the roof assembly shall serve to protect the building or structure.
The only use for the code reference is to prevent the Builder from making a BS claim that the manufacturer reference is “Not Code Requirement”. Unfortunately that happens very frequently here. This is a very common attitude here and is why I provide clients the actual code reference along with manufacturer, etc.
On a side note a question for you from your neck of the woods. Builders here (large and small) have been changing their contracts and the pandemic brought out the worst in them. It is now a common occurrence that Builders place a cancellation clause in the contract that for any reason whatsoever they (the Builder) can cancel the contract with no penalty at all to the Builder. Another one that’s creeping in are material increase charges when they claim that materials increased in excess of what they originally quoted. The client does not even have the choice of backing out without losing everything they have invested and the Builder has the right to increase the contract cost with no repercussions. Have you been seeing or hearing of those in your neck of the woods?