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Angie's List: Keeping Your Home up to Code
Written by Nicole Porter
Last updated on September 20, 2013 @ 9:01PM
Created on September 20, 2013 @ 5:59PM

Follow the rules or risk paying the price - that's especially true when planning a home improvement project - big or small.

You want to be certain all the work being done on your home is up to code. If you don't, it could cost you.

In this Angie's List report, there's reasons why you shouldn't ignore a code violation.

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

"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," said Dunlap.

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

"As far as the wires passing through the cabinet, what can happen there is the wire can rub into the metal and short out. That can cause a potential fire, it can cause a loss of control where there would be electrical component or something like that, even electrical shock to the homeowner," said HVAC contractor Alan Winters.

Any new renovation work must meet current code at the time it is performed.

Code violations often involve electrical, plumbing or structural issues that pose some sort of safety hazard.

Ignoring a code violation could be an expensive mistake.

"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," said Angie Hicks, of Angie's List.

"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," said Winters.

Many contractors offer code violation inspections and correction work.

You can also contact your local code enforcement agency if you are unsure whether you have an issue.

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 do so from a safety standpoint.

Also, 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, so read your policy and talk to your agent.


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