As a homeowner, there could come a time when you receive a notice from a code enforcement inspector that some aspect of your home does not meet local building codes.
Code violations often involve electrical, plumbing or structural issues that pose some sort of safety hazard to either the occupants of the home, surrounding residents, or both.
When remodeling you may find that your house isn’t up to code in some areas, whether it’s electrical or plumbing, for example. But it’s important to go ahead and bring it up to code because when you want to sell your house in the future it will likely come up in the inspection and could cause you to lose the deal.
It didn’t take long for homeowner Maureen Dunlap to figure out something was wrong after having a new furnace installed.
Maureen says, “It was held together with some duct tape, or furnace tape and a flimsy board. And when the furnace came on, the walls would suck in. And I knew that wasn’t right.”
Maureen called a different contractor for a second opinion who found a number of code violations.
HVAC Contractor Alan Winters says, “The most common code violations we normally find is breakers are too large for the appliance that they are serving. In some cases, the wiring is not sized properly and a breaker is a point of contact so if something goes wrong that’s supposed to give out first to protect the home, protect the equipment and everything. If you have a breaker that is too large what is going to happen is something else is going to give and that could be a potential fire.”
“Codes are enforced to protect mainly the customer. That’s the main thing for a code. It’s also for the equipment manufacturers so there is no problem with the equipment so it last longer and you can get your life out of it, things like this,” continues Alan.
Angie Hicks cautions, “If you ignore code violations in your home you might find that you face financial fines as well as legal ramifications. It’s really important that you bring things up to code when you discover them.”
“If a contractor tells you that you have a code violation and you’re unsure whether or not you really do, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion. You can hire another contractor to come out and do an inspection. Additionally, contact your local code enforcement agency and they can help you as well," advises Angie.
Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated home inspectors about code violations.
Any new renovation work must meet current code at the time it is performed. Sometimes, renovations lead to the entire house needing to be brought up to code. If something is code when you put it in and then code changes, you don't have to bring it up to code, though it might still be a good idea to from a safety standpoint.
Ignoring a code violation could be an expensive mistake. Typically, when a code violation is identified, homeowners are required to bring the issue up to code or remove the offending source entirely within a specific period of time. Don’t comply and you could face significant financial penalties and even legal ramifications.
Common code violations:
• Convert spaces that are not designed or originally permitted for living space. (For example, unfinished basements or garages).
• Home not properly equipped with ground fault interrupters (GFIs) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).
Many contractors, electricians and plumbers offer code violation inspections and correction work. It’s important to note, though, that not all code violations count the same.
Angie’s List Tips: Correcting code issues
• Often requires specific trade skills, so it’s important to find a contractor who specializes in addressing code violations that pertain to your issue. By addressing those issues, you’ll not only make your home compliant to local regulations – should you choose to sell it – you’ll also make it safer and reduce your risk of significant financial loss.
• Many homeowners’ insurance policies won’t cover damage or loss to an area that is found to not be up to the current code, if that area is supposed to be. Read your policy to learn whether bringing your home up to code is included.
• Anytime a contractor tells you that you have a code violation, seek the opinion of at least two more reputable professionals in your area to help make sure what you’re being told is legitimate. When in doubt, contact your local code enforcement agency.
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