April 2

7 Things You Didn’t Know Were Major Building Code Violations


Are you getting ready to sell your home? There’s so much to consider.

Even you’ve invested in making it look good and boosting its curb appeal, that may not be enough.

Because just how sure are you that your house is up to code?

If you’re not sure at all, then it’s important to know some of the more common building code violations. 

Ask yourself the following seven questions:

1. Are There Missing Handrails on Your Staircases?

In-home injuries are not uncommon. And injuries sustained from navigating stairs top the list.

So if you have a staircase that has no handrail, you’re in violation of building codes.

Handrails are required on every single staircase both inside and outside your home. But what constitutes a handrail?

A handrail is a horizontal or sloping rail that can be grasped for guidance or support when using the stairs. Simple as that. 

If this is the only code you’re violating, then you’re in luck. This is an easy and inexpensive fix. Far more so than some of the others on our list.

Which brings us to your windows… 

2. How Safe Are Your Windows? 

This may sound like an odd question. Isn’t the purpose of a window to let in light and give one a view of the great outdoors? How could they possibly be dangerous?

Well, if you have an older home, those windows may break if someone slips and falls into them.

That’s because many older homes still have their original single-pane windows as opposed to the tempered or safety-glazed variety now required by law.

Because stairs (see above) and bathrooms are especially hazardous areas of the home, any windows in these areas should be replaced. Building codes in new homes require only tempered or safety-glazed windows in those spots.

Windows are a big deal. And they can be a deal-breaker when it comes to selling your home. Especially if they’re dangerous.

So if you’re planning to replace those windows, be sure they’re either double or triple glazed to provide insulation and to resist impact.

Safety or tempered glass will have a manufacturer’s designation that shows the type of glass and the safety glazing standard with which it complies.

3. Are You Using Smoke Detectors Properly?

If you think just sticking a smoke detector on the ceiling in a few parts of your house is good enough, think again.

Building codes require you to have a smoke detector on every floor of your house. Beyond that, you must also install them inside every sleeping area and outside every bedroom entry.

But that’s not all. How you install them is important.

Alarms on ceilings must be at least 4 inches away from walls. And wall-mounted alarms must be 4-12 inches from the intersection of the wall and ceiling.

Also, forget about old-school 9-volt battery alarms.

For new construction, smoke alarms must be hard-wired and include battery backup. Multiple alarms must be wired together so that if one goes off, so do the others.

4. Does Your Water Heater Have an Expansion Tank?

If not, your home is not up to code.

While most water heaters last anywhere from 8-13 years, there are occasions where they last longer.

If you have a newer water heater, chances are it has an expansion tank. The expansion tank is simply a small extra tank that relieves the pressure if your water gets too hot and expands.

This is critical in ensuring that your water heater tank doesn’t explode from too much pressure.

So if you have a very old relic of a water heater that’s still doing its job, be sure it has an expansion tank. 

5. How Does Your Bathroom Vent?

This is an important consideration. Especially if you have an older home.

You may have a bathroom fan that does just a lovely job of getting rid of the steam and extra moisture in your bathroom. But where is that moisture heading?

Current building codes dictate that the ventilation is directed outside.

But in older homes, the fan may be venting that air and moisture into your attic. And pumping humid air into your attic is the perfect recipe for mold and rot. So you’ll need to replace it.

When you do, be sure that your fan is venting the air using a 4″ diameter vent pipe. This will keep you up to code. 

6. Do You Have Missing or Defective GFCIs?

In an effort to reduce fire risk, ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection is now required for outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, and garage. This applies to all outdoor circuits as well. 

Testing for the presence of GFCIs is easy. You need only to buy a GFCI receptacle tester for about $15, then plug it into each outlet.

It will tell you if you have a GFCI on the circuit and/or other wiring problems. 

If anything comes up, you’re in violation and you’ll need to call an electrician. While this may be costly, you do not want to overlook electrical issues.

7. Is Your Deck Flashing up to Snuff?

Deck flashing has nothing to do with a striptease. No matter what kinds of parties you like to have.

If you have a deck, flashing is installed between the deck ledger board and the house. It creates a barrier to prevent moisture from entering the house in the openings created by attaching the ledger board connection. 

An incorrectly installed ledger can cause the ledger to pull away from the house and the flashing to fail. This can lead to rot that will weaken your deck, as well as structural members in your home. 

So be sure that your connection is complete and secure. Otherwise, you could be looking at a costly repair.

Working around Building Code Violations 

Before you decide to sell your home, be sure you’re aware of building code violations and how they might impact your sale.

If you discover you just don’t have time to address violations because you need to sell your Austin home fast, no worries.

Contact us today, we’ll buy any house in any condition and get you the best possible purchase price.

Right away. 

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