Is Your House Up to Code? The Results of an Inspection May Surprise You

Most cities and municipalities in the US have established certain building codes that also apply to private homes. While most homeowners simply assume that their home is up to code, this is not necessarily always the case. You can reasonably assume that a new construction home is up to code. However, it does not take long for a home to slip below these standards.

Here are a few things to know about building codes as well as reasons why you should be suspicious that your private home is no longer up to code.

Why Codes Are in Place

Although these codes may seem like a nuisance to many, the restrictions are put in place for good reason. Building codes are mandated in order to ensure the health and safety of the building occupants. While most people understand the need for public building codes, the reasons for private home codes are not as well understood.

It is also important to note that housing codes may vary greatly between locations. This is largely due to differences in geographical features and climate. For example, houses in California must adhere to earthquake codes not found in a state such as Kansas. Similarly, homes in hurricane-prone areas have different codes than those homes in areas without this particular weather risk.

Most Common Home Code Violations

There are a number of home code violations that you may not be aware of. Here are just a few of the most common reasons for violations.

  • Kitchen and Bathroom Renovations - As the most common room in the home to be renovated, it is no surprise to learn that the kitchen may not always be up to standard. Many homeowners take on this task on their own, failing to realize the proper renovation protocols. The same is true when a bathroom is renovated.

  • Electrical Work - Most homeowners underestimate the difficulty of performing electrical work. If you are looking at purchasing an older home, it is important that you check out the electrical panel for signs of misuse. An overloaded panel is a sure sign that the previous electrical work is probably not meeting current codes.

  • Basements, Attics, and Crawl Spaces - Before purchasing a new home, be sure to check out these often underlooked areas of a home. Many homeowners will perform their own renovations and run the work through the basement, attic, or crawl space. Looking for exposed electrical wiring or plumbing in these places can offer clues about the quality of the work.

  • Additions - A home that has undergone an addition is a red flag that there may be issues with meeting the current codes. If you are looking at a home with this type of work, you would be wise to make sure that the proper permits and inspections were performed during the addition process.

  • Windows - Older homes have also likely seen new window installation at some point. Be sure to check out these windows to make sure that they were properly retrofitted to fit the local housing code standards.

Why Your Home May Not Be Up to Code

Before you embark on any major home renovation project, it is imperative that you take the time to familiarize yourself with the local codes in your area. Failing to do so may cost you a significant amount of money and time down the road. Older homes or those that have been renovated recently are the most likely to not be following the proper protocols. This is particularly true if the renovation was not under the direction of a professional. If you are looking at purchasing an older home, it is vital that you understand that the prior work that was done on the house.

Understanding building codes in your area will help you to be a more responsible homeowner. This knowledge will also empower you if you are in the market for a new home. It is always a good idea to consult with a professional if you are unclear about the current standards and what you need to do to ensure that your home is up to code.

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