Every code violation is different. Some code violations may not be as severe as others, but some can make it nearly impossible to sell your house. The most common code violations are those that deal with the roof, structural, plumbing, and electrical systems of your home. These code violations are usually the most expensive to fix because they often need costly repairs or replacements. They also take up a lot of time for contractors who have to work on them.
This article discusses the most common code violations, which ones are the most serious, and how to sell your house if you have them.
What Are Code Violations?
Building codes are regulations that deal with the construction, alteration, and demolition of buildings. The code is in place to ensure that all buildings meet specific safety standards. Code violations are any violations of the building code.
Code violations can also occur when a house poses a nuisance to the community, such as tall grass, trash, or vandalism.
Huntsville’s city website allows you to find code violations they most frequently assign.
Unsafe buildings are considered unsafe for the public, such as a dangerous, unsanitary structure, or detrimental to life and safety. A hazardous building can be a home with structural damage, such as crumbling walls or an unstable roof. It may also have electrical hazards, like broken outlets or exposed wiring.
Unpermitted work is one of the most common reasons for code violations. Many homeowners perform renovations on their homes without pulling the necessary permits. This includes altering the structure or electrical systems of a home or making an addition.
Many people think that pulling the proper permits is an unnecessary burden, but spending a little extra time on the front end can save a lot of heartache down the road. If you try to sell your house and the home inspector determines that work was done under the radar, the entire real estate transaction could blow up.
The local government will often issue code violations because of complaints from people in the community. Common causes for this are tall grass, trash, and vehicles parked in the right of way.
Unlike the other types of violations, if these issues go unresolved for too long, the local government will make the necessary fixes and place a lien against the property for the expenses. This will encumber the house and make a future real estate transaction more challenging.
Most Common Code Violations
Code violations is a very broad term. It can cover anything from an overloaded electrical panel to a toilet that is too close to the wall. Any house that has been changed at all likely violates the local building code somehow.
Another note is that when a home inspector performs a home inspection of a property, they’re not trying to find code violations specifically. They are more focused on finding safety hazards, malfunctioned systems, and items near the end of their lives.
Here is a list of the most common code violations in homes:
As we’ve already mentioned, unpermitted work is one of the most common causes of building code violations. Unpermitted work could include structural, electrical, or plumbing work. So many homeowners try to skip this step to save time and hassles.
This type of code violation can be the most difficult to fix because the proper way to complete this type of work is to have city inspectors check it during the entire process. Unfortunately, there is no way to perform a thorough inspection once everything is finished. This may result in you having to dismantle the work done so the city inspectors can verify that everything is meeting building codes.
Improper Deck Construction
Building a deck is a very popular DIY project because most homeowners can wrap their heads around what is involved, especially after watching a few YouTube videos. However, without the proper permits and inspections, it could suffer from serious code violations and even present a safety risk.
There are many structural considerations with a deck, and your local building code will give instructions on how to size all of the structural members and select the appropriate fasteners.
If your home has a deck built without a city inspector checking it out, it could hinder selling your house in the future. The best option would be to contact your community development office and have them perform an inspection and provide solutions to bring your deck up to code.
Improper Bathroom Fan Ventilation
According to local building codes, bathroom exhaust fans should be vented outside your home. The issue with this is when you are retrofitting your house and adding a new fan. Adding the ductwork and breach in your roof to meet the building codes is a ton of extra work.
Although technically it is a code violation to vent an exhaust fan into an attic, homeowners do it all the time in practice. As long as the output of the ductwork is above the insulation in your attic, most home inspectors won’t raise a big flag about it.
Electrical Wiring Issues
Any alterations done to the electrical wiring in your home should have a permit, so any changes you make could result in a code violation. However, if the work is performed professionally, the odds of this code violation causing an issue are pretty slim.
One electrical code violation that should be addressed before selling your home is having standard outlets where they should be GFCI protected. Any electrical outlet within six feet of a water source should be a GFCI.
Missing or Faulty Flashing
Flashing is a thin layer of metal that keeps water from intruding a home at joints, such as where a roof meets a chimney or a deck meets the house. This is a component that is often installed incorrectly. Nearly every roof leak we have dealt with on properties we bought was related to a faulty flashing job.
Although building codes prescribe installing flashing correctly, doing it properly takes more time and effort, and unfortunately, many contractors take shortcuts. Although this technically leads to code violations, they may go undetected by a home inspector until a leak forms.
Does the homeowner need to fix code violations in order to sell?
It depends. Trivial violations, such as a bathroom fan being exhausted into an attic, or a toilet that is too close to the wall, usually don’t cause any issues with potential buyers. However, more serious building code violations that cause a safety risk, such as unpermitted additions or electrical hazards, will likely need to be addressed before selling to a traditional buyer through a real estate agent.
Do sellers need to disclose code violations to buyers?
Technically, Alabama is a “buyer beware” state, which means that it is up to buyers to perform their due diligence to uncover any issues or code violations with a house before buying it. However, if an inspector found significant defects that were not disclosed, you could lose your credibility with potential buyers.
Also, even though Alabama is a “buyer beware” state, you as the property owner must truthfully answer when asked about issues by a buyer or real estate agent.
Can code violations reduce your buyer pool?
If there are serious code violations with your home, you can expect it to be more challenging to get it sold. Word travels fast among real estate agents, and soon many potential buyers will be leery of the house. It also doesn’t look good when your house goes under contract, but the deal falls through when the home inspection turns up several issues and code violations.
Another thing to consider is that most buyers will need to get a loan to purchase your house, and their lender may refuse to lend on the property if there are major code violations.
Three Options To Sell House With Code Violations
Here are the three most feasible options to get your house with code violations sold as quickly as possible.
1. Fix the Code Violations
If you plan to sell your house with a real estate agent to a traditional buyer, if you know of any code violations, it may be your best option to fix them. This is definitely your best option if the issues are not very serious and inexpensive to fix.
If your house has code violations that fall under the “nuisance” category and there have been liens filed against the property, you need to get these resolved before selling because they will slow down the entire process.
2. Offer the buyer credit or lower the selling price
If there are substantial code violations with your home, you may be able to entice potential buyers to buy your home as is by reducing the selling price. However, as mentioned above, if there are serious issues, traditional buyers may not get financing approved by their lender.
3. Sell your home as-is to a cash buyer
If your home is not up to the current building codes, the easiest way to sell it as-is will be to sell to a cash buyer. They are used to buying homes that need repairs, and since they buy in cash, they don’t carry all of the financing contingencies that traditional buyers do. Cutting out the financing hurdles can make the entire selling process much smoother.
On top of fewer contingencies, selling to a cash buyer will save you the commissions you would pay to real estate agents.
We Buy Houses with Code Violations!
If you are worried that selling your home with code violations will be stressful, don’t be! We are local house buyers in Hunstville, AL, and we will buy your house with code violations as is, so you don’t have to fix a thing. We make the process of selling your home as simple as possible.
Have liens on your house from code violations? We’ll take care of those too! We will buy your home as-is and will even pay all of your closing costs.
Contact us today to get a 100% FREE, no-obligation offer on your home.