We are the New Construction Experts
What are new construction inspections? Some people call these phase inspections or code inspections. They are inspections to verify that everything is up to code. Are these inspections something that Home Inspectors can do? Let’s find out.
To understand anything to do with construction one must first understand the terms. Start with Ohio’s new definition of a Home inspection:
As used in this chapter:
(C) "Home inspection" means the process by which a home inspector conducts a visual examination of the readily accessible components of a residential building for a client. "Home inspection" does not include pest inspections; environmental testing; inspection of any property or structure conducted by an employee or representative of an insurer licensed to transact business in this state under Title XXXIX of the Revised Code for purposes related to the business of insurance; or determination of compliance with applicable statutes, rules, resolutions, or ordinances, including, without limitation, building, zoning, or historic codes.
“Does not include” does not mean prohibited from performing these inspections if qualified, it just means that they are not considered as being a home inspection. So, anyone can perform a new construction inspection. Well sort of, …. keep reading.
It’s more than fair to say that if an inspector is hired to perform a new construction inspection that the individual hiring the inspector wants the inspector to make certain that all the components of the structure meet common building practices and the specifications that appear in the approved plans. Most reasonable people would agree this to be true.
How does an inspector ensure that the plans are being followed? First, by looking at the following:
107.7 Approved residential construction document sets. One set of approved residential construction documents shall be kept by the residential building official. The other set(s) shall be returned to the applicant, kept at the work site, along with manufacturers’ installation instructions and product information and shall be available for use by the residential inspectors.
Second, by using the RCO (Residential Code of Ohio) to verify that the installation of electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems has not caused the structure to become compromised due to cutting, drilling or notching of any of the structural framing members.
Most home inspectors will tell you that they are not code inspectors. That in and of itself should disqualify them from being recommended by you to your clients. Some will insist that the code is just the minimum and that they have a higher standard. Ask to see that standard because Ohio’s code is ICC (International Code Council) based and IS the standard recognized by “ Most U.S. communities”.
If they still insist that they are qualified asked them if they have passed any one of the state’s four exams on residential inspections. These certifications had been around since 2006. They are:
- B1 Building
- E1 Electrical
- M1 Mechanical
- P1 Plumbing
These are proctored tests and are open book. These exams are open book for two reasons. One, no one knows all the codes and two you must show where you got the answer because in Ohio you must be able to show the contractor why something is a defect. Home inspectors don’t use code books.
The only test that a Home Inspector takes is:
“(4) Proof of successfully passing, within two years before the date of the application, the national home inspector examination;”
I have taken and passed all four of the exams and can do everything in the matrix below.
Even if an inspector continues saying that taking these tests doesn’t matter because he knows all about construction, here is the one final requirement that most inspectors can never meet. That is, they are prohibited from inspecting any part of the electrical installation in new construction. Here is what the state says about electrical inspections:
3783.06 Certificate required.
No person shall engage in the practice of electrical inspection in this state unless he is the holder of a certificate of competency as an electrical safety inspector issued under Chapter 3783. of the Revised Code. Any person practicing or offering to practice electrical inspection shall show proof of his certification upon request as provided by rules of the board of building standards.
Effective Date: 03-22-1973.
This is not a new law but rather it has been the law for 46 years. Every three years the rules, the NEC® (National Electrical Code®), for electrical installations change and Ohio continues to be ahead of the curve by requiring inspectors in Ohio to prove that they are “competent” before they are permitted to inspect any electrical installation.
There is no residential electrical inspector certification in Ohio, yet. With Ohio now licensing home inspectors something needs to be changed to allow them to comment on certain electrical defects that they are prohibited from commenting on now. The PGC does not have this limitation.
Inspecting new construction homes is not something that you are qualified to do just simply because you have obtained the new home inspector license. That is why you need to recommend a residential building inspector to your clients when they ask you for an inspector for the new home that they are buying. Home inspectors are simply not qualified to inspect that new home during construction.
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