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Posted: March 2, 2014

Do building codes guarantee a quality built house?

mennodueckConstruction Questions

By Menno Dueck

Part One

Do building codes guarantee a quality built house? No.

The BC Building Code sets “minimum standards for safety, health, accessibility, fire and structural protection… (”  The definition of quality is set by each individual contractor. Two identical houses built to code and, both meeting criteria for New Home Warranty, can be radically different when it comes to quality.

When shopping for a new home and the wow factor of granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances and laminate flooring have you drooling, stop right there. Take off your blinders and look for clues that the hard earned cash you are about to part with is going into a sound investment; you need to look past the eye candy to the structure itself. Here are a few hints of what to look for in both new and previously owned homes.

Does the ground around the house look unevenly settled and/or is there water lying around?  This could be an indicator that the backfill around the house was not compacted sufficiently, which could lead to water leaking into the basement.

Can you check the roof when it has frost or snow on it? If you see uneven melting on the roof, there may be a lack of insulation and/or ventilation, and possibly a code violation (pictured above).

Is the house built square? Code does not require a house to be built so that doorways, archways and windows line up parallel or floors are level. Don’t have a laser in your back pocket? Roll a marble on the floor and see where it heads, open doors half way… do they continue to swing on their own? If you step into an area or room and you get a sense that something isn’t straight or level, go with your instincts and check it out further.

What about the stairs? While they may not be squeaky today, it is worth checking out for the future. If you can see under the stairs, look for three stringers and check that the treads have been glued and screwed to them (glue would be squeezed out where the treads are fastened).  Check that the risers (height between each step) are equally spaced to ensure safety.

Part two will reveal additional ways to check up on quality of construction including materials that just meet code versus those that provide quality; shining a light on what could be hidden behind crown molding and trim; and of course the secret (and very professional) wiggle test.

– Menno Dueck, Ask Menno Consulting, Dueck Enterprises Inc. / 250-426-5460 /

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