It seems that everyone involved in the real estate transaction brings their own opinions and answers to the many questions that arise. These opinions are too often literally based on thin-air.
These “thin-air” recommendations constitute what I call Agentcode, Buildercode, Sellercode, Buyercode, and most importantly Inspectorcode.
We have all heard agents that talk about my grandfather being at the home and how we will not find anything wrong because the seller is a builder, or builders that say, that is the way we have always done it, the way my father did it, and the way his father did it, and the AHJ signed off on it.
The seller of course will resort to how he or she did the work themselves so of course it is top notch, and the buyer will state they watched This Old House and learned the way something was installed could not possibly be correct or that one extra spore of mold or one asbestos fiber is going to kill their entire family–or worse.
Home Inspectors are perhaps the worst offenders—because they should know better.
Home inspectors actually know enough to make up Inspectorcodes that actually sound plausible–sounds like actual code. Of course, home inspectors are “expected to know” so they gain some undeserved authority. They sometimes rely on luck to get them through to the next inspection.
The building codes are a minimum level of performance expected of anyone constructing homes or repairing homes. I find it odd that any inspector would not at least support the minimum standards as a starting point and then recommend improvements to those standards when applicable. But instead, they react to what is going on in the home much the same way agents, builders, sellers and buyers do.
They resort to making stuff up based on rules of thumb, what they learned incorrectly in inspection school, on the internet or based on nothing at all.
Sometimes I think this reaction is largely to compensate for the other code-meisters involved in the transaction.
This is a shame because there are REAL CODES and manufacturer’s instructions that anyone with an Internet connection and an 8th grade education can look up and discover what is actually required–there is no need to make anything up. The real work comes when we want to go beyond code or when we ignore them altogether.
We can end up making a whole bunch more work for ourselves if we decide to make up our own requirements and ignore the minimum standards.
Many home inspectors will swear up and down that we are not code inspectors. While we typically do not have enforcement powers, in the sense we must know the minimum standards in order to know how to inspect pretty much anything, we are indeed code inspectors–and a whole lot more.
Getting familiar with basic codes necessary to do a home inspection takes a LOT of time and work, but nowhere near the mountain of wrong information that gets passed on to our clients and perpetuates urban legend. Sooner or later, if the inspector lives long enough, that mountain has to crumble away–no matter how reluctantly.
Would it not be nice to have not built the mountain to begin with?
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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