For the most part, it is true. There are, of course, exceptions to
The discussion is about enforcing building standards, not the kind of things
that happen when you expect the government to protect you from ALL the
majestic physical forces of nature. :)
These houses could have been better than 'built to code' and still slide
into a creek due to many more factors than the inspection process ... folks
will simply continue to build where houses do not belong, and no amount of
building standards, per se, will stop that.
The builder had gone bankrupt in the intervening
SOP ... the builder is ALWAYS the responsible party for building to the
various codes/building standards, NOT the geopolitical entity responsible
for enforcing building standards in their particular jurisdictions.
It has always been this way, and I don't even know that you want it any
other way ... unless you want more government intrusion in your life than
you already have.
It's basically simple, you want better government/enforcement ... you get
involved in the process.
Granted, you may have to be intimately involved in the business to
appreciate that building standards, and enforcement of same, increase the
odds of a homebuyer purchasing a better product today then they did 40 years
ago, and it is getting better all the time.
That said, you must understand that a house "built to code", is a house
built to minimum standards ... but it is indeed a fact that we do have
better "building standards" today.
But, to assume that means we have better built houses doesn't always follow.
The biggest problem I face in building the best house possible is NOT the
building standards, and NOT the competent enforcement of same, it is the
shoddy workmanship, and lack of pride in same, that goes into building these
days ... along with almost non-existent, and competent, *supervision* during
This particular instance included proper certification of the building
site as well. That particular area of TX is one with a high concentration
of clay that swells and shrinks with moisture content. The builder had
filled the back yards into an erosion channel to make larger backyards and
had failed to adequately assure the stabilization of the fill, thus the
later occurrences of backyards sliding away into the creekbed.
I'll agree with the latter statement. This just confirmed that the amount
of intrusion we already have is pretty much useless -- we certainly don't
need more and I wouldn't come close to advocating that.
It's not just building, it seems to be endemic to everything. Here, I am
overjoyed when I have work done where it is right the first time. It is
very seldom that this happens anymore, there's always something that is
screwed up; and it's not because I am being overly particular -- this is
big things, like the fact the new brakes on the F-150 just plain locked up
when applying any pressure to them after a brake job. Multiple other
examples abound. I don't know if it is an entitlement mentality that
people think they are deserving of good compensation despite the quality of
their work, or something else, but quality work seems to have become a rare
That should be the last line of defense; people should have enough pride
in their work to do it correctly regardless of whether someone is watching.
[Yeah, I'm an idealist]
If you're going to be dumb, you better be tough
It's so damn unusual that I actually write letters of
commendation/recommendation to the subcontractors that simply do what they
were paid to do. I'm tickled to do it for the most part. Hoping that the
effort will insure repeat performance, and that the amount of time expended
will be paid back in spades.
LOL ... I just used that very term (idealistic) against a client in onsite
In the Austin area, I had just caused the demolition of this
"green/conservation minded to the extreme" client's old house on a 10 tract
to make way for the new.
The old house had been built back in the 70's by a "Mother Earth" hippy
couple who lived in it for about ten years before it obviously fell down
around their ears.
When I heard, for the 50th time, "we'd like to do this and this (basically
to reduce some type of imagined environmental impact issue), I pointed the
now bare ground where the old house recently stood and said "You see that
old house over there?".
She stopped and with a puzzled look said, "But, there is no longer a house
I said "Precisely! .. and the reason there is no longer a house there is
because it was built with 100% "idealism", without the least regard for
"realistic" building practices!".
After the silence, that was pretty much the end of "saving the 30 year old
single pane windows", to put back in an energy efficient, new home in lieu
of new, low E, double pane glass that will _really_ have an impact on the
Actually I just got back my response from the inspectors office on drywall.
Repairing drywall requires a permit. Meaning if I put a doorknob through my
wall I have to get a permit to repair it. How do these people sleep at
Damn right, I renovated a kitchen, no permit required, as I didn't change
location. Shed < 110 sq feet, no permit, deck less that 2 1/2 feet off the
ground, no permit required. Only permit I have needed was an electrical
service upgrade, in 12 years in the house, totally renovated it, new
shingles, new eavestrough, furnace etc., no permits.
Get the hell out of there.
King County Wa. I don't even live in a city, just unincorporated county.
Actually I misspoke, technically a permit is required to repair drywall,
however if you drive down to the office and present them with plans on what
you are trying to do - they might wave the permit, then again they might
not. I can even post the e-mail, but haven't to protect the poor sap who
wrote me the e-mail. However the e-mail will ABSOLUTELY find its way to the
next general election, one of the county representatives happens to live 5
doors down from me. Rules like this are exactly why people break the law
and corruption spreads.
Looks, from the headers, like either washington state or minnesota.
$ host 184.108.40.206
220.127.116.11.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer c-24-18-65-40.hsd1.mn.comcast.net.
18.104.22.168.in-addr.arpa domain name pointer c-24-18-65-40.hsd1.wa.comcast.net.
Sure looks like a comcast misconfiguration somewhere.
I cannot imagine anyone actually applying for one in a case like that.
If a permit was actually requested for every job in the country that needed
one, it would create major problems in staffing the inspector's offices and
the big home improvement stores would be going out of business.
I'm all for following building codes but no way should a permit be needed
for such minor repairs.
With the influx of new people, it won't last much longer, but in
Bedford and many other counties you do not need a permit for an
agricultural building. The theory is that only animals are endangered
by poor wiring, etc., I guess. I did get a permit when I built my
shop, but the inspection wasn't onerous. Do you have to actually BE a
farm? Nah. Buy three chickens and raise 'em for meat, go out of the
farm bidness when you kill the fryers and eat 'em. Actually, a friend
did that with rabbits on his one acre "farm." I know another guy who
has about 60 acres, "raised" horses and dogs for years, and got some
pretty fair tax write-offs in the process, while building everything
from barns and hay sheds to a car port for his house. He dealt just
enough horses to make a profit every third year, too.
and regardless of how I feel about my county's permit system it doesn't
change how I'll interact with the inspector. I don't fault the inspector
for local regulations. He/she just enforces them - the commissioners are
the ones who write them.
<Stepping onto the soapbox>
But with regards to what you said, the inspectors and the county should be
following the law no ifs ands or buts. If the laws are ambiguous then they
need to be rewritten or interpreted once and followed per that
interpretation. By ignoring laws when they get
silly/inconvienent/unnecessary you open the door to all sorts of corruption
and poor regulatory practices. However by forcing people to follow stupid
laws such laws are brought to light and CHANGED so that they are no longer
To me the permit system is deeply flawed in that the policies are not
clearly documented, not friendly to the layman, and subject to far too much
interpretation by the inspectors.
You pretty well hit the nail on the head. But, it's their supposed knowledge
of the building codes that gives the inspector his power over you. And,
since no one is perfect, an inspector's erroneous code "interpretation" can
often come into play and cause you grief.
Can't tell you how many times I've had an inspector fail an electrical final
for having an overhead recessed can in/close to a shower area, only to have
to point out to him that his interpretation of the code failed to account
for the height of the ceiling, which he had not bothered to measure.
IOW, knowledge can indeed, be power (although in that event he's just as
likely to fail you somewhere else in retaliation). :)
The point being is that the building inspection process is a "game", and
like any other it behooves both participants to learn the rules and study
how to play it.
I live in a village of maybe 2000 residents un upstate NY. I think the
Mayor get's paid $2500/year and each trustee gets $1000.
These guys understandably rubber stamp some generic pre-existing code. It
would be impractical to do otherwise.
The current building instector would not let me build my glorified garden
shed on 24" a mortered stone wall because we are in "an earthquake zone".
To pacify him, I had to embed steel pedistals in the corners.
The irony is that my 150 year old home is made of brick (not veneer) upon a
mortered stone foundation. If we have an earthquake, I suppose I should
therefore run for the shed.
I don't fault the village board; I consider that overzealous enforcement in
the absense of common sense.
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