A Home Inspector’s Weblog by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck

exploring homes and the lives in them around Houston

Grandfathering In

Do you not love the phrase “It is grandfathered in.”? It is such a wonderful way of escaping responsibility. The idea that something is fine, because that is the way it was done, is one of the biggest challenges for an inspector. Someone who has been living in a house knows that they have been perfectly safe all this time, but here comes this inspector telling his clients that his home is not acceptable. The fireworks begin.

Building codes and what inspectors look for are always evolving as we find new areas of concern. My house which was built in the early sixties does not have GFCI outlets, but I know very well how important these units can be. I have seen people trip on stairs; children fall through railings; and light bulbs burst when in contact with water. My reports reflect my desire to inform my clients of these safety concerns. What they choose to do with that information is up to them.\

For my part, I am working at updating my home, and I have bigger projects before I come to the GFCI outlets that I will need in the kitchen and bathrooms, but I will eventually get there. Realize that no product is grandfathered in. If you are undergoing a major renovation to your home, the city will require that you update to the current building codes that are followed in their jurisdiction. You may well live without incident in an older home, but you can never know for certain.

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