Angie's List: Don't ignore building code violations

CLEVELAND - 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.

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.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews, asked highly rated home inspectors about code violations.

Any new renovation work must meet current code at the time it is performed. Sometimes, renovations lead to the entire house needing to be brought up to code. If something is code when you put it in and then code changes, you don't have to bring it up to code, though it might still be a good idea to from a safety standpoint.

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:

·         Convert 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).

Many contractors, electricians and plumbers offer code violation inspections and correction work. It's important to note, though, that not all code violations count the same.

Angie's List Tips: Correcting code issues

·         Often requires specific trade skills, so it's important to find a contractor who specializes in addressing code violations that pertain to your issue. By addressing those issues, you'll not only make your home compliant to local regulations – should you choose to sell it – you'll also make it safer and reduce your risk of significant financial loss.

·         Many homeowners' insurance policies won't cover damage or loss to an area that is found to not be up to the current code, if that area is supposed to be.  Read your policy to learn whether bringing your home up to code is included.

·         Anytime a contractor tells you that you have a code violation, seek the opinion of at least two more reputable professionals in your area to help make sure what you're being told is legitimate. When in doubt, contact your local code enforcement agency.

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