One of the most stressful parts of any real estate transaction is waiting for the home inspection to come through, because what that inspector finds can completely derail the sale.
Of course, not everything they find will be troublesome and many of the inspector’s notes might not even come as much of a surprise, but it’s important that you know of some common code violations that might make it to the list.
Code violations usually occur because rules have changed, or a homeowner made an unreported addition or upgrade. Maybe it even slipped through when the house was last put on sale.
Here are some common code violations to be prepared for:
Extra Rooms: Has a previous owner added a sunroom or made an extra bedroom in the basement, or created an office in the attic? If so, they were required to get permits and approval for the work done—which many people do not do. In order to avoid a difficult sale down the road, the buyer may want to ask for a permit.
Windows: Just having windows in a bedroom is not considered “safe” enough when it comes to proper fire codes. Any room that is called a bedroom in your listing must have a window that can open within 30 square inches of clearance for proper fire escape.
Heat: As with a window, you can’t legally classify a room as a bedroom if it doesn’t have heat.
Furnaces and Compressors: Speaking of heat, rust in the heat exchange is a common problem that shows up on inspections, as is missing insulation where required by code at the time the house was built, or improvement or replacement was installed.
Life-Saving Equipment: Smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors are required by law in most states, and not having them—or not having the proper kind—is considered a code violation.
Electrical Issues: Common code violations include electrical junctions not enclosed in a junction box, a lack of GFCI outlets in bathrooms and kitchens, or reverse-polarity on outlets. These are inexpensive things to repair.
Structural Problems: Things that can come up as violations concerning the structure include rotten wood trim around windows and doors, rotten or delaminating siding, and missing flashing on roofs or above windows and doors. While these can be more expensive to fix, if they aren’t taken care of properly, they can prolong or even cancel a sale.
Many code violations can be easily fixed, but keep an eye on what comes up during the inspection.