Angie's List: Beware code violations with home projects

As a homeowner, there could come a time when you receive a notice from a code enforcement inspector that some aspect of your home does not meet local building codes.

That can be costly and dangerous.

Code violations often involve electrical, plumbing or structural issues that pose some sort of safety hazard to either the occupants of the home, surrounding residents, or both.

But it’s important to go ahead and bring it up to code because when you want to sell your house in the future it will likely come up in the inspection and could cause you to lose the deal, or pay thousands more.

Poor Workmanship Leads To Extra Costs

It didn’t take long for homeowner Maureen Dunlap to figure out something was wrong after having a new furnace installed.

Maureen says, “It was held together with some duct tape, or furnace tape and a flimsy board. And when the furnace came on, the walls would suck in. And I knew that wasn’t right.”

Maureen called a different contractor for a second opinion who found a number of code violations.

HVAC contractor Alan Winters said: “The most common code violations we normally find is breakers are too large for the appliance that they are serving.

In some cases, the wiring is not sized properly and a breaker is a point of contact so if something goes wrong that’s supposed to give out first to protect the home, protect the equipment and everything. If you have a breaker that is too large what is going to happen is something else is going to give and that could be a potential fire.”

Inspect Before You Finish Paying Contractor

Our partners at the consumer guide Angie's List say its important to have a project inspected before the contractor wraps up. That way he can fix any code issues, at no charge.

Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, said, “If you ignore code violations in your home you might find that you face financial fines as well as legal ramifications. It’s really important that you bring things up to code when you discover them.”

Ignoring a code violation could be an expensive mistake. Typically, when a code violation is identified, homeowners are required to bring the issue up to code or remove the offending source entirely within a specific period of time.

Don’t comply and you could face significant financial penalties and even legal ramifications.

Common code violations:

     -Converting spaces that are not designed or originally permitted for living space. (For example, unfinished basements or garages).

     -Home not properly equipped with ground fault interrupters (GFIs) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).

     -Inadequate wiring for a new appliance or a/c unit.

     -Incorrect circuit breakers for a new project.

     -Failing to properly vent a furnace or water heater.

Remember:  catching a mistake years later can be very costly.  So make sure your contractor is up to date on current codes, so you don't waste your money.


Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.

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