Contractor and builder practices. How to do it.

By
Home Inspector with Decker Home Services, LLC IL Lic # 450.002240
Let's talk about how homes are built. Everyone wants their new home to be of the best quality and constructed to the best standards. But people also want a house to be affordable. Is this a contradiction? Contractors must do their work according to code (read: local municipal building code). This is the minimum standard of practice that is allowable in any given city or town. But we should also be aware that there is no one 'code', no one set of standards. Different municipalities have, most times, very different standards. Where I live, one only has to cross a street 4 blocks from my house to have a totally different set of standards from the town I life in. In some cases, the code standards there are contradictory to those my house is under. Local building codes are not written in stone, nor do they ensure quality, only a bare minimum standard. We must also remember that local building codes are not just a technical standard, but also a political standard. These code standards are a trade off between what is the bare minimum safety levels what is best practices. It is also enlightening to remember that most local code inspectors are very underfunded. it is rare for a code inspector to spend more than 15 minutes on the inspection. There are just too many houses to inspect and not enough time to do a thorough job. This is not a reflection on the inspector, just a reality of government. Voters want the best, but will rarely pay for it in their taxes. The same is true with contractors. When a contractor (let's take roofing, for example) is requested to give a quote for a new roof, he must calculate materials, worker hours. scheduling and his profit margin (which is usually very small). If the roofer is good and does quality work, he will usually calculate the job two ways: 1) Acceptable and 2) Best Practices. Acceptable: The work will be in compliance with the minimum standards or the industry and in compliance with the local building code (which, as we have seen, has some very wide differences in different towns). This is the bare minimum for an acceptable roofing job. Best Practices: The work will be done using the best materials available (30 year warranty shingles, copper flashing, actual step and counter flashing around the chimney, how much ice shield will be used, will drip edges be installed on the eaves, his best and most experienced work crew, etc). This job will be one to be proud of and last the longest. Why would a roofer choose to do a less than best practices job? There is one simple reason. Most people do not want to pay the price for the best work. It is wise, when hiring a contractor, to get three quotes from three different companies. What most people do is take the lowest bid. If a contractor is always quoting his best work, he will not get many jobs. It is that simple. But, when the roof lasts only 10 years, the customer will just blame the contractor. Rarely do they come to the realization that they just got what the paid for. It is always easier to blame someone other than themselves. Remember, contractors are called contractors because the do the work according to the contract. The contract will state not only the work to be completed, but also the quality of materials being used, the techniques to be employed (there are about 10 different ways of installing roofing in a roof valley) and the general quality of the work. One always gets what one pays for. If a home owner is not willing to pay for quality, they have no right to expect it. Hope this helps;
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Rainer
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Robert Cramer
Five Star Property Inspections - Belleville, IL
Good Information....hard to read though.
May 27, 2007 03:43 AM #1
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Rainer
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William Decker

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