Did you ever stop to wonder if your house is “up to code?” It’s not really something most people think about. But if you’ve ever replaced an air conditioning unit or renovated a bathroom or added a backyard deck, it’s possible that the new additions or final touches don’t actually meet building codes for your town, city, or county. While it’s not something you were thinking about before, knowing how to sell a house with code violations can be more critical than you think.
Can You Sell A House With Code Violations?
If you’ve received a notice that your house has a code violation against it, you may be wondering what your options are. Some code violations like high grass or illegal dumping could be easier to fix than others and it’s important to take a code violation seriously. The city can place a lien on your property and charge interest on that lien, amounting to a lot of money. In some states, if a code violation goes unpaid for an extended period of time, the city can demolish the structure. We will dive into what a code violation is and what you should do if you receive one.
What Is A Code Violation?
A code violation is a notice by the city or county that your property has something that needs to be corrected according to local regulations. This violation mailed out and usually, there is a certain period that is given to “cure” or fix the violation. Within the notice, you’ll see the address and date where the violation occurred, the type of violation, how to fix the violation, when the violation needs to be fixed, and if there is a fee or fine associated with it.
Types Of Code Violations
There are many different types of code violations and depending on your city or county, they can vary. Here are the most common code violations:
- Dilapidated structures
- Premises identification
- Yard areas
- High grass and weeds
- Accessory structures and fences
- Unsanitary conditions—hoarding
- Illegal dumping
- Inoperable / unlicensed vehicles
- Repairing vehicles on residential property
- Abandoned vehicles on public property
- Parking and paving requirements
- Business operating in a residential zone district
- Illegal use of property
- Farm animals
- Yard and garage sales
- Rooming and boarding houses
How To Determine If Your House Is Up To Code
The fact is that most municipalities have a set of building codes that they used to ensure safety and help prevent against unnecessary damage or health issues. It’s a way to look out for occupants of homes, apartments buildings, and any other residence. The specific rules and regulations vary depending on the municipality, structure, and type of work done. But sometimes those codes call for things so specific, it would never have even occurred to you to double check.
If you own a new home, there’s a decent chance it’s up to code. New home builders often have local inspectors watching over them and making sure the work they’re doing meets current codes. The problems usually don’t start cropping up until you’ve moved in and lived there for a while. As you alter, change, and add on to the residence, code violations might be coming with that. You might have even hired a contractor who claimed to have filed the proper permits and done all of the work correctly but, in fact, didn’t. It’s, unfortunately, more common than we’d like to think.
That could be a problem if and when it comes time to sell your home. All of a sudden you find out that the toilet you installed isn’t far enough away from the door, the new bathroom isn’t properly vented, you didn’t include enough windows in that addition you added, the electric wiring isn’t up to code, and the deck you added to the house isn’t connected properly. How in the world can you sell a home with all of these issues?
Turns out, you’ve got a few options, depending on how much money you can spend, how much time you want to put into the project, and what your ultimate goals are.
Bring It Up To Code
The most obvious solution is to figure out everything that isn’t up to code and fix it. The easiest way to get started is to first hire a general inspector to take a look around and identify code issues. Often, these inspectors aren’t looking specifically for code violations but they will look for shoddy craftsmanship, plumbing leaks, and anything else that might signal a potential problem. The point being, they might not tell you anything is wrong with the fixture that’s been in your home since 1925 but they will tell you if the contractor who renovated your bathroom did a lousy job. If your home got a gut rehab or major renovation, they’re going to want to dig around identify key issues leftover from that.
The truth is that it’s unlikely anyone will bar you from selling a house with certain code violations. Because of age and general wear and tear, many homes are out of code in one way or another. However, the codes exist for a reason and safety is a huge priority for everyone involved in the transaction. A mortgage company is going to have an inspector take a look and if they see too many code violations they may not want to loan on the house. A smart potential buyer will ask for permits to see what kind of work was done to the home and if you or the city are unable to provide them for work done, especially extensive work, that’s a red flag.
So, if you want to sell your home on the open market, it’s worthwhile to figure out what it’ll cost and get the house up to code. Otherwise, you could get yourself into a lot of hot water (and we don’t mean the hot water leaking under your bathroom).
Sell the Home As-Is
Assuming the code violations aren’t presenting clear dangers to anyone, you could sell the home as-is on the open market. By offering the home as-is, you’re taking yourself out of the renovation process and removing your responsibility to fix problems that need fixing. The buyer takes on that responsibility, presuming you’re upfront and the home is inspected properly.
Of course, that invariably means you’re going to get a lot less for the residence. The buyer is going to want contingencies and credits for the work they know they’ll have to do and that’s coming directly out of the sale price. If the home is in disrepair, maybe that doesn’t matter to you, but if the home is livable, it might end up creating a headache as negotiations go back and forth and you watch your potential profits get whittled away.
Sell the Home to an Investor
If you don’t have the money to get the home up to code and you don’t have the time to fix anything yourself, you may want to consider selling the home to an investor for cash. It saves you the headaches and time involved with getting permits, taking time off, putting in the hard labor, and hiring an inspector to confirm that the work is done properly.
Reputable companies like Nexus Homebuyers, have worked with sellers in this situation before and understand the nuances involved. They can give you a fair, cash offer and get the potential problem home off your plate. Instead, you can offload the home quickly, get cash for the sale, and put that towards the purchase of a new, preferably up-to-code house. Just make sure that the next time you install a new toilet or get some work done on the spare room, everyone’s filing the proper permits and knows what they’re doing.
If you’re interested in receiving a cash offer on your home, whether it has code violations or not, click here to get started.