The following letter is in response to a member reporting on the service he received when he asked the International Code Council for an interpretation of a specific code section. His report appeared in the Alerts & Advisories section of the August ASHI Reporter. To the editor:
Member Sisson’s question to ICC about 15- and 20-amp GFCI receptacles has nothing to do with home inspections. It might be a personally enlightening exercise for Mr. Sisson, but as you learned from the answer, he had nothing to worry about in the first place.
I know you and others at ASHI HQ and leadership are tired of my harping on this issue, but ASHI members are not code enforcement officers, and this topic is out of bounds. Failure to include a side bar indicating that we are not code enforcement officers has the potential to confuse and misdirect our members. I believe this direction is coming from education providers who take the lazy approach to home inspection by primarily teaching codes.
I wonder what key inspection points are overlooked by those who focus on the minute details of the amperage ratings of receptacles. Taking time and space to consider these details does a disservice to our clients and creates the false impression that we consider all building code issues.
It is critical that our clients understand that building codes are not enforced in real estate transactions. Home inspectors cannot know what code enforcement, if any, was used during the construction and subsequent alterations to a house.
Attempts to identify code violations on existing houses is a misdirection of our role in reporting the condition of the property, and making recommendations, regardless of the code. As we have seen throughout the country, some codes were poorly written, unevenly enforced, and occasionally established practices that were contrary to building science and best practices.
ASHI members can’t, don’t and shouldn’t address building code issues, unless specifically directed to do so by the client, and only when the client understands that the final word rests with local authorities having jurisdiction, not the home inspector.
Thank you.Roger HankeyFirst ASHI member in Minnesota