Many roofing contractors near you are asking this question:
Do all building code officials enforce the rules and regulations in the same manner? Especially when it comes to roofing and siding insurance claims.
For Andy Schreder, the answer varies, which is part of why he loves discussing building codes with contractors.
“This is one of my favorite topics because it is spicy. It is interesting and it needs to be addressed,”
But as a building code official, having stimulating conversations with roofing contractors isn’t Schreder’s only job responsibility. In fact, as a building code official, he is tasked with so much more.
“I’m doing the administration, the permitting, and the inspections within the jurisdiction, and again, those are under the confines of a permit fee,”
He then says that when it comes to enforcing code on roofing and siding jobs, much of the final decision is predicated on the parties and finances involved, and also which building inspector has been assigned to a particular job.
“Everything comes down to the amount of resources, but when we are working outside of that and I’m wearing a different hat as a code consultant, I have more resources so I can get deeper into the subject, and that’s where we are starting to learn of the difficulty that is involved,”
He then cites a recent project he was involved with where the homeowner was dealing with significant window damage, but strangely enough, the siding was still very much intact.
This was where things got weird.
An insurance adjuster was involved, as well as multiple contractors who were bidding on the roofing and siding job. There was even a referee at the appraisal.
Simply put, there were many people who had different vested interests in the final assessment of the homeowner’s property.
“The assertion was that it would be allowable to take a Sawzall to cut out a window from an existing elevation. They would take it out, take a new window, cut that nailing flange off, insert it into the opening, jam screw and caulk it. That was exactly what was being proposed,”
One of the licensed general contractors on site remarked that if the process Schreder just recalled was to be admitted by the local code official, then the job would be okay.
For Schreder, the right determination was not an easy decision.
“That’s the mushroom cloud that’s going to be coming out of this,”
“We are starting to determine that the code is very distinct, in that the manufacturer’s installation criteria is an extension of the code, and the building official’s interpretation of the code cannot essentially deviate or wipe away the code.”
All of which is to say that the code is interpretive because some local building officials follow a slightly different set of regulations than their contemporaries.
Schreder assures that this isn’t uncommon, and it doesn’t mean that some building code officials are corrupt. It simply means that the code itself is up for interpretation, much like a decisive but interpretive call in a sports game.
In the case of the roofing and siding project that Schreder was involved in, his determination could be different from a different building code official, but both officials may also be right.
There again lies that ever so controversial interpretation. Schreder insists that he always acts as a third-party in these instances because his paycheck is not dependent on whether the contractor or insurance company comes out ahead.
Schreder also says that one key to properly enforcing building codes on roofing and siding jobs comes down to this:
“As a licensed building official in the state of Minnesota, do I have the ability to go into a jurisdiction where I’m not the designated [official] and identify and summarize code?”
“That’s the question and it begs to be asked and answered because as the designated building official, he or she doesn’t necessarily have the resources to go out on site and walk around in the cold and let this testimony happen.”
Furthermore, Schreder once again emphasizes how crucial it is for contractors to be aware that building code officials have no stake in the outcome of a home improvement project’s final report.
Rather, Schreder and many other building code officials are most concerned with assuring that a job has been done safely and that homeowners will not be adversely affected.
“There’s a big difference between code interpretation and application, and just identifying code,”
“Code administration is really where the local designated building official issues permits, does inspections and does the reporting. That’s the job of the designated building official.”
And if ever there is a disagreement, Schreder mentions that many of these tiffs can be solved by bringing in another building code official.
“In a lot of these instances, they [issues] can be solved by having another building official or even a contractor that’s knowledgeable in the code, that’s tested and licensed with their knowledge of the code, to come in and identify and summarize the code. That’s where this needs to end up, is answering that question,”
Do you agree with Andy Schreder about the way in which local building codes are enforced?
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