What Are New Construction Inspections?

Many people across Alaska do not think that we have building codes.  People building outside of city limits, or in cities that do not have a building department do not realize that there are building codes that will apply to all homes built after July 1, 1992.
If a home does not have inspections during its construction and it is built after July 1, 1992 then it will not qualify for a majority of the financing available in Alaska.  Even if you plan to live in this home forever, your estate will eventually have to deal with the house.  The fact is the average American moves every 7 years, and while you may save some money by not hiring an inspector to perform the code compliant inspections throughout the building process, you may lose out on a significant number of potential buyers when you eventually sell the house.

Inspections are not only for the banks and future potential buyers.  Inspections are a set of eyes from an independent third party helping you build a home to meet minimum health and safety standards.  The codes are not a strict standards but  minimum health and safety standards.

A good inspector will go through the structure multiple times throughout the building process and catch items that do not meet these minimum health and safety standards.  Most owner-builders appreciate another person going over their work with them because they want it to be built correctly  to avoid problems in the future.

You might wonder, "what codes are these minimum health and safety standards coming from?"  What code is used depends upon where you are building.  On the Kenai Peninsula the city of Kenai, and the city of Soldotna are the only communities that have a building department staffed with an inspector.  Therefore in these two cities they must adopt their own building code, with their own amendments to the code, and their inspector will perform the inspections throughout the process.  Outside the city limits of these cities the codes adopted by the state are the code that applies.  This would mean that in the city limits of Nikiski, Homer, Anchor Point, Cooper Landing, Ninilchik, Sterling and the rest of the borough fall under the state adopted codes.

State adopted codes and codes accepted by AHFC for residential construction are as follows;
        2006 International Residential Code
        2006 International Mechanical Code
        2003 Uniform Plumbing Code
        2005 National Electric Code

Since the International Residential code has chapters on Plumbing and Electrical, these chapters must be ignored since the state has adopted the UPC and NEC instead.  For structural components of homes we look to the 2003 International Residential Code (IRC), for plumbing we look to the 2003 UPC and for electrical we look to the 2005 NEC.  The state has adopted the 2003 International Mechanical Code for mechanical, however, for residential these codes are conveniently located in the 2003 IRC.  The codes in the 2003 IMC and the 2003 IRC are the same, their only difference is their code reference number.
These books can be obtained through Wisdom & Associates, Inc. or by special order through a bookstore, or off the web at the appropriate code web site.

It is important that your inspector is someone you can work with, you will inevitably have a million questions about what the code covers and what the code says.  Your inspector should be someone you can ask these questions of. 

It is also important that you check an inspector's references.  Some people may tell you that an inspector is too hard, but it is important to remember that an inspector is performing a service to help you.  An inspector that calls items is trying to help you build a home that meets minimum building, health, and safety standards.  A tough inspector is not trying to be difficult but simply trying  to keep you out of trouble, because ultimately, you as builder are liable for the structure and how it was built.