Watch Out for These Common Code Violations When Selling a Home

Watch Out for These Common Code Violations When Selling a Home

In a perfect world, we would be able to sell our houses quickly and painlessly. Our houses would sell within days of listing, we’d get more than listing price, and we would know that the new homeowner would love the place exactly as it is. 

Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and if you’re selling a home with code violations, you’re probably thinking that you’re going to have a rough road ahead of you. While that can be the case, sometimes the most common code violations are the easiest to fix!

Here are the most common code violations that are pretty easy to fix. 

1. Smoke alarms

Smoke alarm violations are the easiest to fix because it’s as simple as checking with your local fire marshall to learn where they go and how many you need. Then you go out, purchase the smoke alarms and install them according to the instructions. 

Do keep in mind that although it’s not required, it’s recommended to get alarms that detect smoke/fire and carbon monoxide. 

2. Handrails

Code enforcement requires all handrails to have a “return.” What this means is that instead of having a handrail that just stops and there’s a gap between it and the wall, the rail must “turn” and touch the wall. Open handrails are notorious for causing accidents because clothing, purses, or other dangling material get caught in the opening and fall. 

If your handrails do not have a return, you can replace the handrail with one with a return. Just be mindful that the handrails need to be 34 to 38 inches above the stair treads and it must be between 1¼ to 2 ⅝ inches thick. 

3. Missing or defective ground-fault circuit interrupter

It is a requirement that any outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, and outside have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI for short). These outlets will cut off electricity if there is a change in the electrical current, thus protecting individuals from electrical shocks. 

If you do not have GFCI outlets, you can purchase them at any hardware or home improvement store and install them yourself. Home Depot has a DIY guide that’ll walk you through the steps.

4. Bathroom exhaust fans

Exhaust fans in the bathroom must vent to the exterior of the home – not into the attic. This is a code violation because if the hot and moist air from the bathroom is vented into the attic, it can cause rot to the framing of the roof, the sheathing, and could ultimately lead to mold and mildew. 

Unfortunately this is one repair that you probably don’t want to do on your own. You’ll need to hire a roofer or an HVAC professional. But before you hire just anyone, make sure you do proper research regarding the contractor’s qualifications, if they’re licensed and insured, and their reputation.

5. Missing or improperly installed deck flashing

If you have a deck, flashing is what connects the deck ledger board to the house. The flashing is necessary because it helps to prevent rot on both the deck and the house. According to code enforcement, flashing violations are common among DIY deck projects and if the problem has existed for a while, the deck could actually collapse and cause injury to anyone who may be standing on it. 

Installing deck flashing on an existing deck isn’t difficult, as all you need to do is remove a few boards and then install the flashing correctly (here’s an informative guide that can help). However, if you are hesitant about doing this yourself, you can reach out to your local handyman or a decking contractor for help. 

Don’t let code violations stall your sale

Code violations are a common reason why there’s a delay in the closing process. These are five of the most common code violations and they’re relatively easy to repair and won’t cost a fortune either. However, if your home has serious code violations that you can’t afford to fix or don’t want to be bothered, ask your real estate agent what options you may have.