Milton Gregory "Greg" Grew, AIA is CEO of Grew Design, Inc and Grew Construction, LLC in Woodbury, CT. Greg is a licensed architect, building official, and contractor with over 20 years designing/building residential, commercial and institutional building projects. www.GrewDesign.com
PASSING INSPECTION DOES NOT MEAN YOU GET QUALITY CONSTRUCTION
July 12th, 2010 by Milton Grew
“It passed inspection!”
“We got a Certificate of Occupancy!”
“The inspector didn’t say anything about it!”
These are responses I sometimes hear from homeowners, building owners or contractors after I have been asked to visit a building upon request because of an alleged problem with construction workmanship or quality. Often an owner and even a contractor may assume that because the building inspector passed the work or even issued a certificate of occupancy that the building meets some kind of standard for workmanship or quality of construction while also keeping other maintenance in the houses as clean gutters, for this you can explore gutteradvantage-pa.com that is a great solution for this. That is essentially not true.
Building codes, no matter who publishes or adopts them, usually state in the opening pages “The purpose of this code is to establish the minimum requirements” for structural stability, energy conservation, safety and the like. So when an architect or contractor says the project “meets code” they only mean they have designed or built to the minimum standard- neither optimum nor best practices. If they tell you it “exceeds code” then maybe they have given you a superior outcome. Building inspectors can only enforce the minimum requirements of the building codes so they are not really the protection you need.
That being said, accidents can happen at any time. From human error to natural disasters, damages to your property can happen even when attempting everything to prevent it. For that reason it is very important to be properly insured and covered, first and foremost. There are sites like homeownersinsurancecover.net that can help find the best one for you, since as you can imagine there are plenty of options out there and it isn’t readily apparent which might better suit you on first or even second glance. Make sure that you take this decision lightly, these services exist precisely to give you the advantage of making an informed decision. It is also important to understand building code as there are quite a few rules to follow.
To give you some examples of why just meeting the building code should not be the only criteria, think about this:
Pretty much everything that proves to be annoying or aggravating to a building owner after construction is not regulated by the building code.
So if what we consider to be “quality construction” is not really governed by building codes how do we define it and assure ourselves of getting it? Tough question.
If you have a contract with your builder it might have language like this:
You can just imagine how many definitions there will be for “professional”, “workmanlike” and “good quality”. Contractors, architects and owners all may define them from their perspective and the way it best serves their interests.
If you are an owner, how do you protect yourself from the sloppy contractor who still meets code and get you a certificate of occupancy? If you are a conscientious contactor, how do you protect yourself from the crazy owner who expects perfection? If you are an architect how do your protect yourself from both of them? There are few things that can be done:
Lawyers will tell you that, if you get into litigation regarding defective work, the “standard of care” is what may determine whether the work was defective or due to negligence. The standard of care is usually determined by the standard that would be exercised by the reasonably prudent professional in that line or work. Well, that sure leaves a lot open to interpretation. You will probably get a slightly different definition of standard of care from every architect, engineer, building inspector and contractor you ask. So going the route of litigation is generally not a very satisfying experience for any party involved, including the owner.
Remember that the building codes state inspectors “enforce the provisions of the code”. They will not guard you from not getting the building you wanted as long as it “meets code”. You need a good architect, detailed drawings, written specs, comprehensive contract, a conscientious contactor and a reasonable attitude to give you a chance of getting what you pay for.