4 critical things to understand about building codes
- Codes are just a bare minimum
- Construction varies regionally
- Building officials have very little time
- Building codes defer to manufacturer’s specifications
In summary, building codes and building departments do an excellent job in helping to ensure that safe and reliable houses are being constructed, but houses are very complex systems comprised of many components which are installed by a small army of different contractors; even the best builders with the best intentions will have difficulty executing everything on a residential build and there is a huge gray area of workmanship that exists between code and best practices. It is simply good practice to have a fresh set of eyes look over the house to see what can be found.
It is important to note that new construction inspections are probably the most difficult inspections that home inspectors do. Home inspectors do not perform code compliant inspections and your typical inspection on an existing house is based on performance: how has the building performed to date? On new construction, this metric is taken away from the inspector, so it falls on the inspector to use the little clues that we can see to help us understand how worried we should be about the things we cannot see.