Those of you who are involved in the Sarasota-Manatee real estate market know what a crazy time it is. Homebuyer demand is through the roof and housing prices are sky-high.
Buyers are going to all kinds of lengths to secure their new home (including ill-advisedly waiving home inspections).
But now, more than ever, you need to know MORE about the real estate market and the home you’re looking at, not less. If you’re fixing to invest in a Sarasota home, or any Florida home this close to water, then you want to have all the information at hand before you spend that chunk of cash.
One topic inexperienced homebuyers overlook is the difference between a home inspection report vs. building code standards—and what each can mean for your future Sarasota-Manatee property investment.
What’s the Difference Between Building Codes and Home Inspections
We’ve talked a lot about home inspector responsibilities and expertise in previous blogs. In short, a home inspection report tells you about potential problems in a home’s structure, safety and longevity. We adhere to a set of national standards.
Code compliance refers to local and national building standards laws that are investigated and enforced by the government.
Do Code Compliance and a Home Inspection Report Overlap? And How Are They Different?
Information contained in a home inspection can (or might) refer to issues covered in building codes or other real estate factors like appraisal prices. Likewise, coding compliance can determine certain repairs and renovations you will need to make to adhere to the law.
However, home inspectors are not trained in code compliance or appraising, and as a professional rule we do not advise our clients on building codes or home prices. We offer straightforward inspection of what the home looks like in terms of your needs, safety and comfort.
Why Don’t Home Inspectors Comment on Building Codes?
To be frank, there’s just too many of them, and they change all the time. Keeping up with code compliance is a whole separate profession—especially Florida building codes!
For example: If your home was built in 1960 and undergone few renovations since then, it’s probably up to code. But if that exact same home were to be built in your neighborhood in 2022, it wouldn’t come close to code compliance.
That’s because a structure is governed, first and foremost, by the construction codes that were on the books when that structure was built. Even half a century later.
To make things even more complicated, home renovation can change all that. If it’s determined that a certain percentage of a home is being renovated—ie changed from its original structure, in whatever year it was built—then the whole home will have to be brought up to code. That is, your 1960 house suddenly has to meet 2022 standards.
So if it’s a cozy bungalow on the water, surprise! Living space needs to be on the second story or higher.
Unfortunately, this is why so many old coastal homes in Sarasota-Manatee get torn down in favor of new construction. Sometimes buyers and builders believe it’s more cost-effective to build a brand-new house than to try to bring an old one up to code.
So Why is Home Inspection More Important Than Code Inspection?
Obviously, buildings must be up to code. That’s the law.
But as discussed above, building codes are not necessarily applicable to real-world home issues. Building techniques and materials that were the gold standard in years before might have since been proven to have weaknesses. A home inspector can point these out to you, even if they’re still technically “to code.”
And perhaps even more importantly, home inspectors don’t work for the government. And we don’t work for the bank. We work for you.
Building codes are the letter of the law. Home inspectors detail the reality for the home owner and/or buyer.