Myth - The home inspector is checking the house to see if it meets code.
Truth - Since it is impossible to know every code that was adopted and when it went into effect by every jurisdiction, it is not feasible for a home inspector to do a code inspection and it is certainly not required. However, many of our defects and notes are related to codes. Codes are put into place as a minimum standard that needs to be met for safety reasons. They change all the time and some towns may be on the 2008 version while the next town over could still be on the 1999 version. Even within those versions, each jurisdiction can choose not to enforce certain aspects of the code. So you can see how hard it would be to know every jurisdictions codes.
Many inspectors are familiar with certain jurisdictions that they work in often and therefore will write up some code violations. Also, there are certain things that we know have been done incorrectly to manufacturers instructions. Manufacturers instructions trump code in most cases and therefore are very important. As home inspectors we are more interested in the safety of our clients than anything else and will let our clients know if there are things in the home that are not considered to be safe by today's standards.
This does not always mean that they are the seller's responsibility to repair. For example, homes built before certain electrical codes were in effect, do not have to be brought up to today's code, however, if we know for a fact that something in the system is not up to what the code was when that home was built, we will write it up as a defect. If we know that something was allowed when the home was built but is not considered safe by today's standards, we might just make mention of the issues to let our clients know that the system is not as safe as it could be.
Our clients need to be educated to what a home inspection is and what it is not. We do our best to make this clear with our inspection agreement and reporting verbiage, but Realtors can help tremendously by being knowledgeable about our work and creating realistic expectations up front. Anyone involved with the transaction could benefit by knowing what the regulations regarding home inspections are. I encourage you to read them by following this link. http://www.ok.gov/health/documents/HomeInspRULES.pdf