Your renovation is going well until disaster strikes. Your contractor stops working and pulls you aside to say they discovered several code violations.
A single code violation can delay work, throwing off your reno plans. If you don’t think to budget for this issue, it can bring your project to a screeching halt.
Unfortunately, a code violation isn’t something you can ignore, even if you weren’t the one to create it. But there is good news: in emergencies, a line of credit might help stretch your budget to cover these unexpected repairs.
Keep reading to find out more about this frustrating renovation challenge. This article answers all the big questions, like what is a code violation, how to resolve it, and when is it an emergency enough to need a line of credit?
What is a Code Violation?
To understand what a code violation is, let’s first talk about building codes. The International Code Council (ICC) has established a set of universal building rules that set the standard for safety in the home. They govern what is allowable when it comes to structural, electrical, and plumbing features in residential properties.
Whether you’re a weekend DIY renovator or a professional contractor, you have to follow these rules when building or renovating something in a home.
A violation is a feature of your home that goes against current building codes.
It happens more often than you think. The ICC hasn’t always existed, and its established codes frequently change as technology and safety standards evolve. Older renovations or renovations performed by amateurs can easily violate these rules.
Older Homes Are More Likely to Have Violations
Older constructions have the greatest risk of hiding violations behind their lath and plaster walls. If you go back far enough, a fraction of today’s regulations were in place. Century homes may have even been built before universal building codes existed.
Here are some of the most common code violations in older homes today.
Older houses have also changed hands more often, simply because of their age. Each owner could have made unique repairs and renovations according to their own rules. Generations of ad-hoc handiwork can result in a severely outdated home — even dangerous!
Today, most municipalities require you to get permits any time you want to build something or significantly alter the structure of your home. These permits ensure you follow the established codes to ensure your work is safe.
Newer constructions and houses sold within recent memory have also undergone inspections that would catch violations. This oversight didn’t exist centuries ago, so a safety check may never have been performed on a very old house.
New Home Can Also Have Violations
Don’t assume your home is safe just because it was built after the millennium. While homeowners are supposed to get permits when working on their houses, some sneaky DIY-ers skip this step to save some money. They can perform unsafe repairs and renovations without the city knowing.
Can You Ignore a Code Violation?
When a contractor uncovers a code violation in the middle of a renovation, they can’t move forward with your plans until they rehab the broken code.
Going through with the original reno isn’t possible for a few reasons:
- It may be dangerous to work around.
- It could make the original renovation impossible.
- A good contractor builds their business on safe work that follows code — if word gets out that they ignored such a crucial detail, they could be ruined.
Of course, as a DIY-er, you don’t have the reputation of your business when dealing with code violations. But it is your safety and health at stake if you choose to ignore electrical or structural weaknesses.
What if Your Budget Doesn’t Stretch Far Enough?
If your home was built in this century, you may not have thought to budget for a possible code violation. Unfortunately, you have to rectify this issue whether you have the budget for it or not.
Rehabbing code takes precedence over other parts of your reno, so consider dialling back some of the cosmetic aspects of your project. Altering your plan may free up more money to put towards rectifying out-of-code features.
Of course, these last-minute adjustments may not work. That’s why renovation experts recommend building a budget with a cushion. Saving an additional 10% to 15% of your budget gives you extra funds to handle something unexpected during your project.
Many homeowners supplement this cash cushion with a line of credit. A line of credit boosts their cushion to cover essential, unavoidable work.
Certain code violations are a direct threat to your health and safety — things like bad wiring or insufficient support for rafters. You can’t wait to rehab these issues. If your cushion isn’t big enough to handle it all, you may dip into your emergency line of credit.
Finding an agile and reliable line of credit is easy when you go online. You can search for reputable lenders from the comfort of your home — on your phone, no less. Most applications are simple and take very little time to complete, so you can get through the borrowing process faster.
Rehab Out-of-Code Features without Delay
A code violation (or several) can be a huge inconvenience at best and a major roadblock at worst. But think of it this way: rehabbing old code is an investment in your safety and your property. Future renovations will be easier to complete, and you can list your house without worry.