As a Realtor for 28 years, a developer of small plats, and a salesperson for many new and existing homes, I have seen myriad interpretations and applications by plan reviewers and site inspectors for the same building code requirements. As a result, many owners and contractors are skirting codes and the inspection process altogether.

Some building officials seem to believe that it is their job to interpret the building code, not just enforce it, and many of them change their minds several times during a construction project. We also encounter officials who believe the approval process must be a series of events that occur in a specific order—if you don’t do “A” first, there is no need to look at “B” or “C.” We used to be able to sit down together and discuss all the project components, share how each part interacts and coordinates, and get overall approvals subject to some changes, which allowed us to plan and schedule projects more efficiently. Now, it seems that many code authorities only think individually and of the part that concerns them at that moment.

Ron Young

Bellingham, Wash.