Building codes represent minimum safe standards of design and construction required by a local municipality. Differences in code from one location to another reflect the varying needs and demographics of each area.
As a home inspector my concern for building codes is not for their enforcement, but rather the safety standards they represent. As a home buyer you will want to insure that your family is protected by the most current safety standards.
Housing needs have changed over the years as technologies and materials have changed. In the post WWII building boom no one could have anticipated the vast array of electrical appliances we enjoy today. As a result houses built during those years, current in their time, no longer have a sufficient quantity or style of electrical outlets. Heating systems and insulation that was adequate when fuel was cheap are no longer satisfactory today. Building codes change to reflect the changing needs of modern homeowners.
Many of these systems are invisible to the average home-buyer. Investigating and calling out these disparities is what a good home inspection is all about. It provides a benchmark for comfortable and economical ownership.
No, we don’t enforce building codes, but you will want your family to benefit from current accepted safety standards and the local building codes provide just that reference.