Your reno is well underway, and you can see everything coming together. Soon, it’ll be over, and your home will be yours again. Then your contractor asks to speak with you about some bad news: you have a code violation. Read ahead to find out what that means and what you can do to resolve it.
What Are Code Violations?
A code violation is a feature of your house that goes against the current building codes.
Older constructions tend to have them since building code standards have changed radically over the years. If you go back far enough, there were few regulations controlling the way people built their homes. As long as it stayed up, the house was a success.
Nowadays, you need to get permits before you’re allowed to build anything on your property. There are laws in place requiring you to use different materials and follow different structural rules and safety precautions than what was allowed decades ago.
Newer constructions will undergo routine inspections to ensure that the final results are up-to-code, but this oversight didn’t exist centuries ago. Meanwhile, inspections from even a couple of decades ago may have followed a different safety check than what’s in place today.
So, if your home was originally built fifty years ago or more, you’re likely to find a long list of problems sitting in corners and hiding behind walls.
What Can You Do?
If your contractor comes up to you mid-renovation with a notice of a code violation, they will likely put their current work on hold so that they can bring the feature up-to-code.
Leaving the problem could make finishing the renovation incredibly difficult for them, or it could put their workers in considerable danger.
More still, few contractors are willing to overlook a code violation. There are serious repercussions if it’s found out they ignored a safety issue; it could ruin their work and tarnish their reputation in the field. As a result, they’ll most likely halt all work even if you ask them to push forward.
If they do suggest ignoring the issue, this raises a red flag. Why would they be willing to put their good name on the line? Chances are, with behavior like this, they may not have one to gamble with in the first place.
What if These Repairs Eat into Your Budget?
If you own a newer build, finding out you have a code violation may come out of left field. Unfortunately, it’s something you have to deal with. Even if you didn’t anticipate these issues, you should still have them fixed.
Rehabbing code takes precedence over any other work. If these repair costs are too much to handle, you should think about dialing back some of your other renovation projects to prioritize this issue.
If you still come up short of what you need after shaving off jobs and pinching pennies, you may want to consider an online personal line of credit to cover the unexpected emergency costs and help your home get up-to-code. An online process offers a fast and straightforward application, so you can tackle the issues right away.
While it’s not as good as having an emergency savings fund, a personal line of credit may be an effective financial back-up plan for these tough scenarios where you don’t have the luxury of ignoring the expense.
Why Can’t You Ignore It?
One of the biggest reasons why you shouldn’t ignore a code violation is that it isn’t safe. These codes are in place to minimize any risk of physical harm in your home. The wrong wiring, plumbing, or structural features could be disastrous.
A common code violation is an electrical outlet placed close to standing water — this includes bathtubs, showers and swimming pools. Even something as small as the placement of an electrical outlet could have terrible consequences. Homeowners risk electrocution when the outlet is not a safe distance away from water and when they don’t use a GFCI (Ground-fault Circuit Interrupter).
Another popular one is misplaced or missing smoke alarms in the house. Homeowners need functioning smoke alarms so that they are alerted about fires immediately and have enough time to evacuate the premises. Ignoring this safety precaution puts you and your family at risk.
Here are some more examples of code violations that can be hazardous to your household:
- Handrails that are too small or that have no returns
- Bedrooms without egress windows
- Decks that aren’t secured to the house
- Improper bathroom venting
- Unsafe materials (lead piping, lead paint, asbestos)
Bottom Line: Rehab Old Code
Being told that you have a code violation is inconvenient. You don’t want to stop the progress you’re making on your renovation to fix a problem that you didn’t even make. Unfortunately, as the new owner of the home, it’s now your mistake to correct.
Rehabbing old code is an investment. Not only will it make your home much safer to live in, but it will also make any future renos easier to complete.