A shocking tale of Building Codes in America.

Home Inspector with NCW Home Inspections, LLC

A shocking tale of Building Codes in America.                                           Wenatchee Home Inspections


There are many iterations of codes out there in our country. Some areas adopt statewide codes, such as Washington State. Some states allow local jurisdiction to amend the code, and I have heard that some jurisdictions do not require any residential codes at all, which to me is a little scary. Then we have local interpretation of the adopted codes and areas where the code official has little to no power.


I have thought ‘What is the cost of having so many variations of the codes?”. Think about this if you are a builder  or manufacturer and you build in one area you have one requirement, then just across the way you have another jurisdiction and another requirement. That has a cost and certain frustration level. What about quality control? I would argue that is probably best to have a uniform adoption of codes at least at a state level.



I hear many squawking about manufacturing industry controlling the code process and I do not for one second think that they do not have a interest and influence. Most codes really are about safety and technology change, and lastly and unfortunately somewhat lacking, comes durability.


Then we have local influence that may be politically motivated to not adopt something because it is perceived as financial risk to the industry or community and sprinkle in each of our individual persuasion, well you know democracy.


As home inspectors we are on the front of much of this discussion and like all of us we all have differing opinions on much of this.



So  this all leads to this article. Here is an interesting story “A Cautionary Tale” from the IAEI on codes and safety where a local jurisdiction amended the code. This resulted in a death. This is an extreme case but carries a very interesting point on code adoption and enforcement.




Here is another interesting article on codes. Code are all too often reactionary versus proactive.



I think all of us who deal with codes, building standards and public understanding of such should at least think about why and how we do what we do. How does it help our fellow citizens, neighbors, family and friends. What is the risk versus the reward?


Code Adoption by State-



NEC Adoption by State-



“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”

Will Durant


NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  


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Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

I have often wondered the how and why of the origins of many of the building codes Donald Hester 

Feb 23, 2015 10:27 PM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I would think that most codes are reactionary and not proactive.  A lot of ASTM, for example, comes from testing and recommendation.  And I think local political exemptions are onerous, no matter what.

Feb 23, 2015 10:37 PM #2
Randy Mitchelson,APR
Marketing Coach & Homeland Heroes Home Loans - Bonita Springs, FL
First Impressions are made at First Click

Hurricane based building codes are definitely reactionary to your point Jay Markanich 

Feb 24, 2015 02:36 PM #3
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jay, This is true, but often we have been shown that there was a known risk that could have been addressed proactively yet we wait for an adverse event with a high cost associated before we move forward.

Randy, These issues of areas associated with high risk building is not new yet we react so slowly in most cases.

Feb 28, 2015 10:39 AM #4
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Thanks for the lesson on the diversity of building codes.

Have a great day and an outstanding week.

Mar 01, 2015 12:59 AM #5
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Roy, Thanks for stopping by.

Mar 01, 2015 01:02 AM #6
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Not a place for home owner consumers to venture.  Leave code matters to the code inspectors.  Many home inspectors don't even go too deeply there.

Mar 01, 2015 01:48 AM #7
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Lenn, As home inspectors it really is a good idea to dig deeply into the codes so you can understand what is required and what is not. What was the evolution of them in your particular area. Now we are not code enforcement but almost all we do is based in code.

If you are doing new construction it really is almost a necessity to have a good grasp of current requirements.

Mar 01, 2015 02:07 AM #8
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Donald Hester

NCW Home Inspections, LLC
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