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Posted: March 16, 2014

Do building codes guarantee a quality built house?

mennodueckPart II

Construction Questions

By Menno Dueck

Do building codes guarantee a quality built house? Definitely not.

As introduced in part one, building codes establish minimum standards for safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection; quality of construction is up to each individual contractor. Here are more tips to help you discern the level of quality used in constructing a house.

How well insulated is the home? Indicators of insulation problems show up differently in winter and summer.

In the winter, check to see if the walls and/or floors are cold to the touch. Are some rooms hotter or colder than others? Is there mold growing on the walls? In the summer, check for uncomfortably hot rooms, and mold growing in the basement. To review the different types of insulation, R values and installation criteria, or to learn about retrofitting older homes, go to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website ( and search “insulating your house.”

Do floors flex, feel soft or squeak? There are several reasons this might happen. If OSB (Oriented Strand Board) sheeting has been used, it is not as stiff as plywood and can result in soft, flexing floors, particularly under the weight of appliances such as stacking washer/dryers and soaker tubs. OSB doesn’t handle moisture well so be on the lookout for where it might show up (bathrooms, laundry rooms, roofs are not a good idea!). Plywood, while costing more, is the superior product. Squeaks may be caused by nailing (cheaper) instead of screwing the sheeting. Screwing and glue stops squeaks before they start and makes for a very firm floor.

How sturdy are the doorframes? This is where a ‘wiggle test’ can be applied. If shims and screws have not been used to install the doorframe properly, you will be able to wiggle the jamb (frame). Even if the trim appears straight and firmly attached, if the jamb wiggles, the trim is helping to hold the door in place and eventually the door will shift and not close properly.  Test on both the hinge and knob side of all interior doors.

Love crown molding? Beautiful finishing as long as it’s not hiding something! A recent project revealed four-inch crown molding was covering up drywall that was separating from the ceiling, creating a gap. During the framing stage, improper nailing and use of studs that were too short caused the problem. Still met code.

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Menno Dueck – Ask Menno Consulting / Dueck Enterprises Inc.

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