Know the Building Code
I took out a permit to build a house. Because I am not a licensed contractor, I will only hire licensed contractors that are insured and bonded for all phases of the job.
I am assuming that all of these contractors will know the codes concerning their particular area???
So, my question is:
If I have an idea that seems kind-of cool to me, but doesn't meet code, is the licensed subcontractor responsible for letting me know my idea does not meet code?
You wil share the responsibility with your contractor...never assume anything with construction and if you have a local building inspector, the easy way to work this is get to know him, and ask lots of questions...lots easier to work with an inspector then to fight one....you might also ask the contractor you have and see what his thinking is, and then ask your building inspector what he thinks of the contractor you are going to use...get it? You don't want to hire a contractor that does not get along with the inspector who will be signing off on the work.
Now if you are in an area that does not have a building inspector, you can hire a private inspector, or, as in Oklahoma, we are required to notify the state inspectors when we build in an area without a local inspector and the state guys come and do the checks, and these guys will in many cases off you their opinions about what is being done outside their scope....these guys are usually very knowledgable about construction and if they see a potential problem they will let you know if you ask.
Great thought! I never thought about asking inspectors questions. I live in a fast growing town and I bet the inspectors are busy beyond belief, BUT I could give him (her) a call and ask questions. This way I would only take a few moments of his (her) time.
I would just expect the licensed subcontractor to know the codes in his (her) building field.
Knowing the code and following the code are two different things. If contractor sees a way to make money - as long as he can cover it up, code be damned. Also, codes are pretty extensive - hard to remember every clause.
I suggest spending $70 or so and getting a copy of IRC. Go through the contents, see what is addressed where. Codes are usually well organized and are not that hard to navigate. I'd stay away from all those 'illustrated guides and code checks'. They are:
1. Often have errors.
2. Often base on an outdated code version.
3. Usually organized in a way their author deems good. and explained in a way their author thinks clear.
Go for the source, make it your desktop book, and check your ideas against it first. Contractor time ain't free, inspector time ain't free. You'll be saving a lot of that time if you come to them with ideas that already have a base in code.
As a contractor, I can assure you that I do not willingly violate a code for anyone. The point of inspections is to locate potential problems, either from oversight, or design, and correct them. Every time a code issue comes up, we try to make code, not beat it. Most inspectors (and there are exceptions) are not bad guys, they have a job to do, and will generally be very helpful, especially when their opinion is sought before the fact, and not after it was done. I wouldn't try to bore them to death or take a lot of time, but a few questions will not make then upset. If you get an answer like your contractor should know this, don't bother me, then make sure your contractor is above board and will follow the guidelines.
Having your own copy of the International Residential Code is not a bad idea, but remember, it is not an easy read, and a guide for locating items with reference is not a bad idea as a companion. Well spent $100 for what you are doing, and remember, you can hire a private inspector to check what you really want to know.
Code can be overwhelming!
In other replies to postings I've made, I've let DIY readers know that I've decided to get a good general contractor on board. For a nonconstruction person with little experience, knowing all the code is near impossible when building a house from scratch. I was shocked to find that some licensed subcontractors don't always keep up on code as they become more experienced. (I am assuming they don't remember code when the sub gets a rejection by an inspector.) I just assumed if you are licensed in a particular subcontracting field, such as electrical, working on a regular basis, you would be totally aware of the way to do things and be in compliance with code.
The general contractor I've hired is very knowledgeable and lets me know what can and cannot be. If my GC is not sure of something, he tells me he'll get back with me. (He keeps a copy of the code book in his van.)
Building is hard stuff! My hat is off to all of you wonderful construction workers! Now that I've had a taste of what building is like, I respect your profession more than ever. As I cuise around, looking at houses under construction, I am amazed at the work behind the finished product!
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