"All our houses are built strictly to code..."
That's what the young supervisor said to me and my clients when he showed up at the end of our pre-drywall inspection.
Me - "Are you sure you want to say that?"
Supervisor, smiling proudly - "Yes! We are very careful and the county checks us."
Me - "Well, that's not very impressive. The code is a minimum standard. Do you have ads which say, 'All our houses are built to the minimum standard! Buy our homes!'?"
The code is the minimum REQUIRED standard. It is not necessarily very impressive.
And often there is confusion about what the code says!
So who interprets the code? The local jurisdiction authority. And it seems to me that sometimes they make things up on the fly!
You will never see the ad I proposed above. Why would a minimum standard be advertised as impressive?!
What if I started a company - Jay's Sparkling Water Company - and my ad said, "We filter our water to the minimum standards required by law!!" Wowsers! C'mon over for a drink! I bet most would not consider that to be very impressive.
Can I interest you in using a very long, very high bridge built to the minimum engineering tolerances? Load up the car! Let's hit the road!
If you wanted to build a house for yourself, starting from scratch and the planning stages, would everything from the architects, to the builder, to the subcontractors, to the products, be the cheapest you could find?
Would you want the house built to minimum standards?
Think carefully, would you pick the thinnest metal flues for the cheapest furnace you could find? Or the flimsiest, plastic bath tubs? Or the cheapest drawer glides and shelf holders for your fake wood cabinets? How about the cheapest light fixtures, shower heads, circuit breakers, faucets, counter tops, gutters, carpet, plumbing, roofing and siding, or even the door bell? Really, the cheapest?
Would you hide a multitude of sins under improperly installed stucco or faux stone, noxious drywall, thin insulation, or low-rate carpet and flooring, knowing that later it would leak, rot, mold, stink, or fall apart after the warranty expires?
Would you purposely leave rotting food inside wall cavities, used hypodermic needles under basement staircases, or used condoms, beer cans, panties, and defecation in the sump pump pit, or bury untreated lumber around the foundation walls? *
All of the above is within the code. All of that could be considered a standard of practice.
My recommendation: stay tuned. I may have a follow-up rant.
* Yes, I have seen all that and more.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560