Understanding Codes & Home Inspection
Code Inspection is not my business, thankfully. However, having an understanding of what some current and past code requirements are can help us home inspectors determine if a job was done professionally.
For example, during a recent St.Paul home inspection I came across an attic that had been converted to a bedroom. A great way to add livable space to an existing home.
The hallway leading to this habitable space was well under 7 feet, the current requirement for ceiling height in a hallway.
My concern isn't bonking my head on a low ceiling, it's that in many instances the joists in the floor assembly of an attic were not built to hold a great deal of live load. Any indication that this conversion wasn't completed by a professional makes me question whether or not a professional was consulted and whether the floor can handle the additional live loads required of a habitable space.
With older homes there are always concerns, some greater than others, and I would never want to encourage unnecessary fears among the new home buyer. Rather, I like to put things into perspective. There are always going to be issues that come up during a home inspection, some merit further investigation, some require a simple fix, and some really are suggestions for ongoing maintenance and future improvements. For example, in my 1895 Folk Victorian, I could easily find well over 75 deficiencies if I were to inspect it tomorrow morning. Many of those deficiencies are quite common in an older neighborhood and really should not be a deterrent in a purchase, but rather information for ongoing improvements you will want to make to improve upon your investment.
In this instance I recommended further evaluation from a qualified professional. Not only was the ceiling height non-conforming, but the floors had a noticeable bounce, and cracks in the ceiling of the room below.
With that said, the basement was dry, the concrete block foundation showed no signs of cracking, the windows and doors all showed great fit characteristics, electrical was all signed off on by the electrical inspector, and the plumbing was all in working order and had a level of professional workmanship more rare in the older Saint Paul neighborhoods. This attic was the biggest concern of mine throughout the entirety of the inspection.