What is "minimum code requirement"?

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lunalilo

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1) Is the NEC itself, "minimum code requirement"?

My Boss says, "minimum code requirement" is just not enough... and that in many cases he'll do the job right and worry about the bill later even if it goes well above an estimate, his rational is that he'd rather them complain about the bill then about a cold home, noise in the wall, or cracked foundation, "they can't sue him for building a great home."

2)Is the example above good ethics?
 

c2500

Senior Member
Location
South Carolina
I will rough quote a local building inspector..."I would not own a code built home".

Codes are the minimum. A code built house is the equivilant of a "D" in school. You passed. Even when I am in a "spec" situation I will at least go a little extra.

You start at code and proceed from there.

With regard to an estimate...if your boss quotes a price, then he should be prepared to live with it. If one carefully plans ahead, then you might be able to talk the HO into paying more for a better job....aka above code requirements. However, if you give a code based estimate, then try to raise the price, it is a flaw or even dishonest on your part. There are people who will pay for quality. Then there are people who will pay for code only. You need to learn the difference between the two.

You can be sued for building a great house if you quote $x for the job and then try to collect $Z. The key is to find customers that want, and are willing to pay $Z.

c2500
 

Volta

Senior Member
Location
Columbus, Ohio
I always make a distinction between a quote to a customer, and an estimate.

A quote is a firm price for a well described scope of work.

An estimate is an approximate price, to be fully calculated after the work is performed.

Treating people well is good ethics. Charging more than needed is not. Providing more than is needed does not warrant charging more than needed.
I'll admit that it can be difficult to limit yourself to minimum quality, but sometimes that is the price that was accepted.
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
1) Is the NEC itself, "minimum code requirement"?

My Boss says, "minimum code requirement" is just not enough... and that in many cases he'll do the job right and worry about the bill later even if it goes well above an estimate, his rational is that he'd rather them complain about the bill then about a cold home, noise in the wall, or cracked foundation, "they can't sue him for building a great home."

2)Is the example above good ethics?

It doesn't really work that way. The NEC is more for electrical safety. It's not a design manual. A code compliant house or building is considered safe but can still be the worst designed project ever ( but safe enough ).

So think of the code more as minimum safety standards. The design aspect is more of a business concern rather than safety.

Example: One house that I know of that was to sell in 600-700K range had 5 bathrooms with the receptacles all on the same circuit. Code compliant but a very poor design. House sold for around 450K and the owner starts to try to correct the problems in design. So going cheap in a few areas did cost them big time.
 
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Jim W in Tampa

Senior Member
Location
Tampa Florida
You have no idea how little is really required. Trust me you or nobody else would want that.
Things like 3 way switches for other than stairs are not required. Ceiling fans not required. You could put all 3 bedrooms on one 15 amp breaker. You will not get more work doing it to min.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
2)Is the example above good ethics?
I am not quite sure what this question means. If your boss bids one price, then does more work than that price would cover, and then (for the first time) tells the owner that he wants more money, I would call that unethical. But if he takes the advice I have read here, and gives the owner two prices, the code minimum price and the build-it-right price, then builds and invoices for whichever the owner decides to accept, that is not only ethical but also a good business practice.

 

construct

Senior Member
1) Is the NEC itself, "minimum code requirement"?
As others have stated, it is not a design standard. It is a bare minimum level of safety. There is a large gap between code minimums and best practice.

I had a GC tell me one time that if you just build to code minimums, it means that the structure might not fall down or catch fire.:roll:
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
I always get a kick out of the way people will say the NEC is the minimum in a "barely adequate" tone. It is true that it is the minumum allowed but this minimum is well above a bare minimum as far as safety is concerned.

One example is overcurrent protection for small conductors, look at the ampacities for # 14, 12, and 10 AWG conductors in 310.16 verses the maximum OCPD allowed for general use of these conductors.

If I were to make 1 ton rated trucks the minimum I allowed for use in my company it would be the minimum but well above what is needed or safe.

Roger
 

Jim W in Tampa

Senior Member
Location
Tampa Florida
Except maybe from a cheap-is-king GC.
Even they don't really mean it.
To do that they could end up with a panel in the living room because it was cheaper. Or they get a half hot receptacle in the bedroom just under the single pole switch , And that switch could be any place i care to put it. Unless its changed your not getting a dryer receptacle. Will be no dish washer, micro wave,garbage disposal. And they get a jelly jar on ceiling of dining room,hall, bathroom,kitchen. They might say min but they could not sell it. They also dont get phone, tv, or internet.Oh and a biggy NO AC unless locally required.
 
If you, as a contractor, and I, as a building inspector, have a disagreement on every code issue pertaining to the constuction of this house. Then you, as a contractor, do everything I, as building inspector, require you to do by code. At the end of the project I can shake your hand and congratulate you for building the crappiest house the law will allow.
 

steve66

Senior Member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
Engineer
The light switches are a very good example of how the code is only concerned with safety, not convienence. Putting in the code required minimum number of lights switches would normally not go over very well.

However, in other areas, there's not much reason to go beyond the code. For example, installing a 2-1/2" conduit when a 2" one would suffice probably won't benefit anyone. And few people would use #10 wire on a 20A circuit just to go "above the code".

A good electrician (or an engineer) knows when its OK to stick to the bare minimum the NEC requires, and they know when the minimum won't do.

It's one of those things that take experience, and if you're new in the trade, it might be worth while to watch where your boss goes above and beyond the code, and where he lets it suffice.
 
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