7 Most Frequently-Seen Home Renovation Code Violations
You’ve probably heard the old Greek myth of Sisyphus, who was sentenced by the gods to roll a heavy boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down again – and to repeat this task for eternity?
Well, homeowners might feel a little like Sisyphus when they are asked to tear up or disassemble a home remodeling project simply because it did not pass inspection or meet local building codes.
Sadly, this is an all-too common occurrence for homeowners who don’t properly prepare for their home renovations. Therefore, it’s imperative that homeowners make sure their proposed changes will be compliant with all applicable regulations.
Here is a sampling of ten of the most common code violations in home remodeling projects:
- Improper fence heights. Many municipalities and HOAs have strict rules about how tall a fence can be. And even if the fence exceeds that height by an inch or two, it may still have to be removed.
- Incorrectly-fastened deck ledgers. The piece of material that connects the deck to the house can be tricky to complete. Using regular nails as fasteners or neglecting to use flashing can lead to the deck separating from the house over time.
- Failing to check for lead paint or asbestos. Pre-1970 homes often have paint which contained lead. And cancer-causing asbestos was frequently used in pipe, duct, and attic insulation; as well as vinyl tile, popcorn ceiling texturing, cement shingle siding, and drywall joint compound. By law, these hazardous substances must be disposed of properly by a licensed contractor.
- Shoddy electrical work. In the interest of safety, only a professional electrician should handle installation or repair of electrical wiring. Neglecting to use the correct circuit size, install GFCIs, or build junction boxes around spliced wires presents a clear fire hazard.
- Opting not to vent bathroom exhaust fans all the way out of the home. When updating a bathroom, simply cutting a hole in the ceiling for an exhaust fan will allow all the humid interior air to form moisture in your attic and lead to rot or mold. Instead, a pipe must connect the exhaust through an opening in the roof or attic wall.
- Building a basement bedroom without a window. Most building codes require a window to be installed in any bedroom, and that window must be large enough for a human to pass through in case he or she is forced to escape a fire. This may require extra planning for basement-turned-bedroom renovating projects.
- Forgetting to obtain a permit. Even though it may be a hassle, the majority of county, city, or HOA regulations require a homeowner to apply for and receive a permit before work begins on the home. Failure to do this can lead to steep fines or the removal of completed work – even if the work complies with all building codes.
What are the best ways to avoid a “Sisyphean” scenario? Research your home renovation project extensively, be familiar with all relevant building codes, and hire only licensed and reputable contractors to do the work. Because failing to follow the rules of home remodeling can result in time delays, additional costs, and more headaches for you.
Written by Del Thebaud