Top Ten Code Violations

According to the Journal of Light Construction, about 45% of residential field inspections result in a code violation. That’s according to the Common Code Violations survey released in 2013 by the International Code Council (ICC) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB). Researchers polled code officials across the U.S. about the items most likely to be flagged during construction.

1. Missing Documentation
The most common reason a builder fails an inspection is the simplest (and least expensive) to remedy: not having all the required documents on site.

2. Improperly Placed Anchor Bolts
Although some inspectors mentioned rebar, the error everyone cited was surprising: missing or improperly placed foundation anchor bolts.

3. Braced Wall Errors
Code-mandated braced-wall requirements can be a head-scratcher for someone encountering them for the first time. The requirements are new to a lot of builders and a lot of them are still climbing the learning curve.

4. Weakened Joists and Beams
Inspectors see a lot of beams that aren’t sized for the load or that lack proper bearing. This is more common in remodels than in new construction. It often comes up when a contractor cuts through an exterior wall to add a sliding door or removes an interior bearing wall to create a more open living space.

5. Deck Ledgers and Braces
The culprits included hangers that were too small for the joists, improper fastening, and inadequate flashing that set the ledger up for rot.

6.Stair Rise/Run Errors
Rise/run problems can arise where the builder doesn’t have enough horizontal space for a planned stairway. Headroom is a limiting factor.

7.Stair Handrails and Guardrails
In some cases, stair handrails and guardrails are the wrong height as measured from the tread. By code, they must be a minimum of 34 inches, and no more than 38 inches high. In other cases, the connection to the stair isn’t secure enough. The latter problem is often because the builder has skimped in the blocking needed to make a secure connection.

8.Missing or Inadequate Fire Blocking
Fire blocking must be installed at code-mandated locations in concealed spaces. The blocking prevents these cavities from acting as draft chimneys, thus slowing the spread of flame and smoke during a fire. This delay buys the occupants time to get out of the house.

9.Air-Barrier Gaps
With more jurisdictions adopting energy codes, air-barrier gaps have become an issue. As is the case with fire blocking, these are often in hidden spots, such as behind bump-outs for gas fireplaces.

10.Exposed Kraft-Faced Insulation
The paper vapor barrier on kraft-faced insulation is very flammable and must not be left exposed. It is often left exposed in knee-wall areas and in basements.

Source: February 2016 / JLC,

Common Code Violations

The Common Code Violations Survey, published by NAHB and ICC in 2013, asked building officials nationwide to rank violations in 16 different categories. The responses were too many to include here, so we have listed the top three in each category. They’re in descending order, with the most common violation at the top. Use this as a checklist when preparing for an inspection or, better yet, download the report to see the full list for each category.

Grading and Site Drainage
• Erosion control measures not in place
• Grading
• Downspouts/ drainage controls

• Improper reinforcement or support of rebar
• Standing water/mud in footing or on rebar
• Improper anchor bolts

Wall Framing
• Missing fire-blocking
• Stud cut or notched to an impermissible depth
• Missing hold-downs, straps, etc.

Floor Framing
• Notches in areas not permitted
• Missing anchor bolts
• Sheathing nails missing joist

• Bracing not installed
• Improperly connected to wall plate
• Impermissible alteration leading to additional load

• Missing nails or fasteners
• Over-driving of nails through shingles
• Absence of felt, or incorrect type

Window and Door
• Improper flashing
• Inadequate fire rating
• Improper door weather-stripping

• Improper height or spacing
• Improper graspable surface
• Missing handrails

• Guardrail opening too large
• Height criteria not met
• Not properly fastened or installed

• Stair rise and run violations
• Stair headroom
• Improper stair construction

• Improper notching or boring of framing
• Missing or improper nail plates
• Pipes improperly supported

• Inadequate combustion air or makeup air
• Improper notching or boring of framing
• Inadequate clearance to combustibles

• Grounding issue
• Labeling of circuits
• GFCI Protection

• Improper sealing of penetrations through exterior walls
• Improper duct sealing
• Improper installation of insulation around wiring and
plumbing passing through stud cavity

• Improper or inadequate ledger connection to house
• Improper guardrail or handrail installation
• Deck does not conform to approved plans

Life Safety
• Failure to install correct glazing in required hazardous
• Inadequate egress
• Improper installation of smoke detectors

Source: Common Code Violations Survey, Feb 2013.

If you have a question, comment, or home tip, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can email your questions to us at We reserve the right to edit questions for length.

* Thought For The Month *
“To Be In Love, You Must Make Love A Verb.”
Andy Stanley

Tip Of The Hat To:

Lisa Jefferson
Atlanta Homebuyers Realty Group
4500 Hugh Howell Road, Suite 270C
Tucker, Georgia 30084


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