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Switching requirements for bathroom?


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I can't find a code reference in the IRC, and the NEC doesn't seem to address this:

Jack-Jill Bath (two separate entry doors) one has a light switch just inside the door, the other doesn't. The user has to walk into the the bathroom (about 5') to turn on the light. This is new construction. Shouldn't there be a switch at both entries?

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I believe I got this boilerplate from Mr. Jowers. It originally was written about GFCI's being only in one bathroom and all other bathroom GFCI's tripping to it. I've reworded it to fit other situations such as this one.

"I acknowledge that the 'code' does not legislate convenience or common sense, however, the 'code' is only 'the minimum' starting point, not a 'maximum' or even an 'average'. A person will have to walk into the bathroom to turn the light on when entering from one side. One would expect, in a house of this size and scope, for a light switch to be placed inside the door of each entry."

That might work,

Donald

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Originally posted by Donald Lawson

"I acknowledge that the 'code' does not legislate convenience or common sense, however, the 'code' is only 'the minimum' starting point, not a 'maximum' or even an 'average'. A person will have to walk into the bathroom to turn the light on when entering from one side. One would expect, in a house of this size and scope, for a light switch to be placed inside the door of each entry."

I like it. It's hereby stolen for adaptive use.

Brian G.

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Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Chris...I know you're looking for a code, but what about just saying someting like "Recommend adding another light switch. One having to walk across a dark room to find a light switch presents a safety/tripping/falling hazard."?

Jerry,

That's pretty much how I worded it, along with the fact that there are two switches in the model home! I always like to add the "umph" of code when I can.

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Chris...I know you're looking for a code, but what about just saying someting like "Recommend adding another light switch. One having to walk across a dark room to find a light switch presents a safety/tripping/falling hazard."?

Jerry,

That's pretty much how I worded it, along with the fact that there are two switches in the model home! I always like to add the "umph" of code when I can.

It seems to me that the model home thing would have way more umph than an obscure code reference.

How about this:

The inconvenience of installing another switch pales in comparison to the inconvenience of a lifetime of barking your shins on the toilet in the dark.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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How about this:

The inconvenience of installing another switch pales in comparison to the inconvenience of a lifetime of barking your shins on the toilet in the dark.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Dang, that's so good it's scary! I'd team it up with the "The model home has one right there" defense and watch the Super try and explain that one away. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of his trailer when he read that. [:-nonono]

Donald

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Originally posted by chrisprickett

Originally posted by Jerry Simon

Chris...I know you're looking for a code, but what about just saying someting like "Recommend adding another light switch. One having to walk across a dark room to find a light switch presents a safety/tripping/falling hazard."?

Jerry,

That's pretty much how I worded it, along with the fact that there are two switches in the model home! I always like to add the "umph" of code when I can.

Chris,

For what it's worth, I would be careful about using the word "code" in your report other than to indicate that you are not conducting a code compliance inspection. As I have seen in court cases, when you use the word code, you create the impression that you are doing a code compliance inspection, at least in the mind of the attorney for the plaintiff. Many of us here in CA prefer to use "current building standards" instead. While we all know that the code is the current building standard, this slight distinction offers us a little more protection from the sharks and does not cross the line.

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I'll endorse Crusty's comment.

I went on a big dissertation back in January over on ASHI's board about using the C-word. I have boiler plate that says "modern standards".

Now... I've only done one inspection (done today I might add [:-bouncy] [:-bouncy] [:-bouncy] ) but I had an old salty inspector explain it to me basically just like Crusty did above, and he cited court cases. [:-boggled]

You cross a line of liability exposure when you start using the C-word.

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Nonsense.

No one is going to have any increased liability for citing a source for their statements; if the source happens to be the code, all the better. Referencing a source is what smart inspectors do.

The idea that we will be punished because we use a code reference is silly. Does anyone think that we will be punished for being smart & informed, & using references when they apply? If one gets dragged into court, it will be because one made a mistake, not because they were using all the information available to them. Just because you use a code reference in on portion of the report, it doesn't mean you have to use it in all aspects of the report. It does not necessarily mean that you are performing a code compliance inspection, nor does it give that impression. The impression it gives is that the inspector knows what the hell they are talking about.

Exactly how is an opposing attorney going to make one look stupid for using a code reference?

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Originally posted by kurt

Nonsense.

No one is going to have any increased liability for citing a source for their statements; if the source happens to be the code, all the better. Referencing a source is what smart inspectors do.

The idea that we will be punished because we use a code reference is silly. Does anyone think that we will be punished for being smart & informed, & using references when they apply? If one gets dragged into court, it will be because one made a mistake, not because they were using all the information available to them. Just because you use a code reference in on portion of the report, it doesn't mean you have to use it in all aspects of the report. It does not necessarily mean that you are performing a code compliance inspection, nor does it give that impression. The impression it gives is that the inspector knows what the hell they are talking about.

Exactly how is an opposing attorney going to make one look stupid for using a code reference?

I didn't mean to upset you pal. Have it your way. I study the code voraciously, it's the basis for 90% of my report calls, I am 3/4 of the way to my IRC combination certification (even though CA has not yet adopted it) but I never use the word in a report.

The friendly advice I gave you came from a close friend, a retired inspector who now spends his days in court defending home inspectors as an expert witness (when they haven't bumbled so badly he can't.) Just passing along his observation based on real court experience. I’m not a lawyer or qualified to give you legal advice.

For what it's worth, in my experience citing a code violation has a much slighter impact on clients where safety issues are involved than a brief explanation of the underlying reason for the existence of that portion of the code, which typically indicates an understanding of the spirit as well as the letter of the code and prevents the possibility of an attorney painting a false picture of what it is we do.

Once you introduce the word code into your report, in a court of law you will be held to a higher standard where you are expected to use the code as the basis of your report and cite all code violations. You cannot pick and choose where to apply it and cite it. You take it all or nothing.

About 6 months ago the referring agent informed me to expect a call or letter from the buyers' attorney on a property on which I did the listing inspection. It seems that the walk out basement that had been converted to bedroom area had flooded. There were also egress issues with the windows and the stairway was too narrow, only 34" wide.

After receiving the head's up I went to my report and found that I had noted the emergency exit issue and the drainage problem....whew, but had missed the 34" wide stairwell. At the time of the inspection the agent and seller were having conversation about the permits for the conversion with the owner going on record as saying that the work was permitted and inspected but the records had been destroyed in some kind of accident at City Hall.

The seller's agent got nailed for $5K, the sellers rolled over for $40K and the buyers' agent for an undisclosed amount but I hear he was the prime target. I was lucky and got out clean.

My guess is that if I had called out and cited code on the bedroom exit well stair requirement rather than the inherent safety issue that is the reason for the code in the first place, I would at least be buying the remodeling work it would take to enlarge the stairwell and build a new set of stairs. Like I say, one can not pick and choose where to apply code. Trust me, you are better off not to go there. Best of luck to you anyway.

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I have to agree with Kurt.

This was hashed over and over on the ASHI board a while back. Although I've heard the horror stories of how inspectors are sued into bolivian because they used code, no one has yet been able to present a court case where that has actually happened. I'm afraid we have another urban legend on our hands.

It's my belief this all started a long time ago with minimalist inspectors not wanting to know some codes. Perhaps they lived in an area were multiple codes were adopted by numerous city and counties and they didn't want to take the time to learn all the relevant codes. If I lived in an area like that, I might be inclined to use the word "industry standard" instead of the code. Then again, it's not hard to find out which city/county uses what code and then to find that code in one of the books and/or CD's.

As for codes in inspection reports, on new construction I not only use the code word but the code number and just for good measure, the actual code.

Donald

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Originally posted by Donald Lawson

I have to agree with Kurt.

This was hashed over and over on the ASHI board a while back. Although I've heard the horror stories of how inspectors are sued into bolivian because they used code, no one has yet been able to present a court case where that has actually happened. I'm afraid we have another urban legend on our hands.

It's my belief this all started a long time ago with minimalist inspectors not wanting to know some codes. Perhaps they lived in an area were multiple codes were adopted by numerous city and counties and they didn't want to take the time to learn all the relevant codes. If I lived in an area like that, I might be inclined to use the word "industry standard" instead of the code. Then again, it's not hard to find out which city/county uses what code and then to find that code in one of the books and/or CD's.

As for codes in inspection reports, on new construction I not only use the code word but the code number and just for good measure, the actual code.

Donald

Ditto Kurt and Don.

I also do municiple code inspections and although our home inspections are not code compliance inspections, it does not hurt to put code in our reports to substantiate recommendations for things we find wrong. I think the only recommendation I have heard is that you should not word your report in a way that suggests you, the inspector, are enforcing the code, etc. which everyone knows we do not have the authority to do unless we are conducting a municipal code inspection with the authority and credentials to do so.

I put code in my home inspection reports every time. One code I use quite often is for the venting bathroom exhaust fans to outside air. Seems like there are tons of homes built around here that do not vent the exhaust fans to outside air, rather to the attic instead.

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Not mad Crusty, just emphatic. You're completely wrong. Your entire position is built upon non-sequiturs. At least one of your conclusions (the last one) is based on a "guess".

Your argument is that we must not use source material for any statement because we will be held to a higher standard; "all or nothing". Upon what do you base this proposition?

Upon what do we base our opinions? Would it make more sense to you that we base our opinons on personal heresay instead of written law?

It is not all or nothing. There is nothing in any aspect of English common law that states we must know all elements of every law. Heck, even the lawyers don't know every element of every law. There is nothing that requires us to state the code, but any intelligent judge is going to accept a properly referenced source. If one does not know whereof they speak, for gods sake don't go making things up. That is what will get you in trouble, not citing source material.

Your idea is based on a salty inspectors opinion, and god only knows where mr. salty arrived @ his misbegotten conclusion. He probably watched a good attorney eviscerate a doofus inspector w/ a lousy attorney, & made the same (non-sequitur) conclusions that you have made.

If you are 3/4 of the way to earning your IRC cert, (and I commend you, sir), what the heck are you talking about when you say we can't use references?

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Just friendly advice. Like I said there are as many reporting styles as there are inspectors. I sincerely wish you good luck. I advocate use of the code at every opportunity. It's an absolute necessity to cite the code on new home inspections. I do. For inspections of existing dwellings I still advocate absolute use the spirit of the code and not the letter. Within the public realm the ability to do this allows one to interpret code which is what separates building officials from building inspectors.

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I rarely mention the Building Code in my work because it just isn't relevant to most of what I do. However, I believe it's the misuse of the word Code that gets people into trouble. The idea that using it in your reports once allows clients and their legal counsel to assume you did a Code inspection is just silly.

Using it properly is the key. It's our job to communicate clearly in writing to our clients just what we did and what we found. Poor writing gets you into trouble faster than poor inspecting (ask anyone who has done a lot of expert witness work) and "Code" is just one of many words and phrases that can land you in the hot seat. My personal favorite is: "further investigation by a qualified professional may be required", but there are many others.

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What Jim said.

I wish I could use the more references than I do; I work in Chicago, where code is, how can I describe it(?), ummm, fluid. Code is very often what Carmine down @ city hall sez it is. I've (literally) had City inspectors side w/their union brothers (to be an inspector in Chicago, you have to be in the union) in things they "both agree are not to code, but so what, we're the union, so fuck off." It makes it hard to cite code as a source.

I'm still not sure I understand Crusty's position; on the one hand, he says it gets you in trouble, and to not use it. On the other, he says that he advises use at every opportunity. I get the sense that ol' Crusty is siding w/ Mr. Salty out of respect, but knows where his bread is buttered & is getting his IRC cert because those that know the source get to look a lot smarter than someone who doesn't.

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

The idea that using it in your reports once allows clients and their legal counsel to assume you did a Code inspection is just silly.

Personally one makes a quantum leap from reality if one assumes that what goes on in a court of law (especially with respect to home inspectors) is anything but silly, IMO. Sad but true. No one said it was fair. Often, the reluctance to take the necessary action to provide a good legal offense in our report writing is one of the major causes that your E&O carriers are so ready to roll over and settle rather than spend the money to defend. The end result…… You pay the deductible and everyone's rates go up.[:-banghead]

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To bring the topic full circle, I don't think the switching thing matters @ all. As a source (not code), I use my own bathroom, w/ 2 doors & one switch.

I built it that way 9 years ago because it was easier. Not once has anyone commented on the requirement to walk (approx.) 5' across the bathroom to turn on the light. I've run a little poll of the population (wife, daughter, & daughters friends) about the lack of a 2nd switch; they all looked @ me like I'm a dork (I am). It would be nice, but no one notices what is not there in the first place, I guess.

Geeeez, I wish I had this sort of stuff to worry about. Saturday's job had termites, a collapsing chimney, about $80,000 of blown lintels & collapsing masonry, a buried oil tank, a bsmt. full of shredded asbestos, the entire place needed new windows, and that's just for starters. $879,000 just doesn't buy what it used to.......

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Originally posted by crusty

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

The idea that using it in your reports once allows clients and their legal counsel to assume you did a Code inspection is just silly.

Personally one makes a quantum leap from reality if one assumes that what goes on in a court of law (especially with respect to home inspectors) is anything but silly, IMO. Sad but true. No said it was fair. Often, the reluctance to take the necessary action to provide a good legal offense in our report writing is one of the major causes that your E&O carriers are so ready to roll over and settle rather than spend the money to defend. The end result…… You pay the deductible and everyone's rates go up.[:-banghead]

Crusty, that's not what he said. You're extrapolating from statements to conclusions that don't reflect what the statement indicated. He didn't say what goes on in court of law is silly; he said the notion that using a code reference makes our reports a code inspection is silly (or something like that).

As far as E&O rates going up, if more people cited references for their statements, I believe we would find the rates going back down.

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Originally posted by crusty

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

The idea that using it in your reports once allows clients and their legal counsel to assume you did a Code inspection is just silly.

Personally one makes a quantum leap from reality if one assumes that what goes on in a court of law (especially with respect to home inspectors) is anything but silly, IMO. Sad but true. No one said it was fair. Often, the reluctance to take the necessary action to provide a good legal offense in our report writing is one of the major causes that your E&O carriers are so ready to roll over and settle rather than spend the money to defend. The end result…… You pay the deductible and everyone's rates go up.[:-banghead]

Referencing the building code is a tool, like any other. Misuse it and trouble will follow.

Re: Chris' original post...

I'm sure I wouldn't even have noticed.

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Originally posted by kurt

I'm still not sure I understand Crusty's position; on the one hand, he says it gets you in trouble, and to not use it. On the other, he says that he advises use at every opportunity. I get the sense that ol' Crusty is siding w/ Mr. Salty out of respect, but knows where his bread is buttered & is getting his IRC cert because those that know the source get to look a lot smarter than someone who doesn't.

Curt, lest there be any doubt my position is just this.

1) Education is a home inspector's best friend and something that a successful inspector will pursue his entire career.

2) The code is the basis for the most basic and viable part of your inspection. It is the basis for all the stuff we learn in the seminars , at ITA and from others in forums like this. It is no accident that some of the most respected experts in this business are writing the code checks and translating it for newer inspectors. They know their source materials.

3) IMO using the word code in the report disarms the disclaimer that says you are not doing a code compliance inspection. A good lawyer on the other side has the ability to make you look like a babbling fool[:-jester] in court. Duplicity in writing (comments vs. disclaimers) can lead a jury to believe that one is duplicitous in motive and they won't like you. That's all it takes to sway them. End game. No one says it is fair. Real life more closely resembles a high school popularity contest than the law books, even inside the court room. A sweet respectable housewife that states under oath that "When he mentioned the fact that my light switch did not meet code your Honor I assumed that he was referring to the wiring to the switches as well. How would I know he wasn’t applying the code to the entire electrical system. I'm just a sweet little working single mother with 3 young children."[-crzwom] vs. an ex construction worker turned home inspector with such prominent colleagues as that bozo that owns NACHI[:-pirate]. If your wife was on the jury who would she side with?

4) I study and advocate use of the code (especially the IRC regardless of it's adoption in your area) as the basis of our calls because it is well written, well organized, easy to understand and it's only a matter of time before it gains universal adoption. When one uses it as the basis (other than inspection of new homes where I feel a good inspector needs references to current local codes to gain credibility in the battle with the builders) for the calls, eliminates the reference to chapter and verse and substitutes verbiage like modern, current or industry accepted standards, for the C word in most cases he is using the safest existing standard for recommended safety upgrades and it doesn't matter whether or not it agrees with current applicable code. I always like to recommend application of the safest way I know regardless of what the code says. If I don’t refer to it and I recommend exceeding it so what. I never publicly bound myself to it. I bound myself to safety.

5) I have immense respect for Mr. Salty but unfortunately he doesn't butter my bread. If only life were so simple. He has logged hundreds, maybe thousands, I really don’t know, of hours on the witness stand as an expert witness for cases regarding home inspection and construction litigation (Sorry but I doubt that criminal proceedings in military court bear much resemblance to civil proceedings in civilian court Doc.) He logged nearly 20,000 home inspections prior to retiring and has been teaching the IRC for the last several years. His opinions are based on observations in real court cases, not theory and for that reason I respect them. He has nothing to do with my certification and I grew up and got over needing to look good a long time ago.

Those that know the code will come to understand the code. Those that understand the code understand the reasons the individual provisions are in the code. Understanding that is knowledge. Knowledge is power in this profession. Read the first parts of the IRC where it discusses interpretation of the code and how the spirit rather than the letter governs.

Citing code and holding it forth like a shield is weak and will get you in trouble sooner or later. IMO you are better off utilizing the underlying reasoning behind the code. It is more basic and less easily challenged.

Lest there be any further misunderstanding that is exactly where I am coming from. If people disagree it matters little to me other than how it affects the cost of my E&O. I'm just sharing my experience and what I believe here, not trying to be right or look better than anyone else.

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Originally posted by kurt

Originally posted by crusty

Originally posted by Jim Morrison

The idea that using it in your reports once allows clients and their legal counsel to assume you did a Code inspection is just silly.

Personally one makes a quantum leap from reality if one assumes that what goes on in a court of law (especially with respect to home inspectors) is anything but silly, IMO. Sad but true. No said it was fair. Often, the reluctance to take the necessary action to provide a good legal offense in our report writing is one of the major causes that your E&O carriers are so ready to roll over and settle rather than spend the money to defend. The end result…… You pay the deductible and everyone's rates go up.[:-banghead]

Crusty, that's not what he said. You're extrapolating from statements to conclusions that don't reflect what the statement indicated. He didn't say what goes on in court of law is silly; he said the notion that using a code reference makes our reports a code inspection is silly (or something like that).

As far as E&O rates going up, if more people cited references for their statements, I believe we would find the rates going back down.

No Kurt, I am the one who says what goes on in a court of law is often silly, defying logic.

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