Common Housing Code Violations

6 Common Housing Code Violations

Most cities around the country have their own set of building/housing codes that have established standards for properties with the main focus of ensuring the health and safety of the homeowner. Each area’s specific building codes can range from requirements for ensuring that and the foundation was properly built to something as detailed as the distance of the toilet from the vanity in the bathroom.

Every city’s building codes can vary and sometimes do so depending upon the difference in the geographical area or the climate, but many times there are standard general building codes that most local governments stick to. Despite the building codes being available for public access and knowledge, there are many homeowners (and even a few contractors) that are not aware of the local current building codes in the area in which they live.

It is not uncommon for many homes in an area to actually be outside of current building codes. There are actually several common housing code violations that are not uncommon for many homes across the country to have.

Here are the six top housing code violations  of homes across the country

Electrical panel issues

This is most commonly a violation in older homes. It is highly common in older homes that have undergone some renovations through their years. Often found is an overloaded or messy panel, which is a telltale sign of electrical work that was not done properly to code.


If an older home has undergone window replacement it is very common that the installment of the new windows does not quite meet the local housing code standards. While this is not necessarily a safety hazard, it can create a huge impact on your home’s energy efficiency.


This is one of the most highly popular areas of the home to renovate and as such, there is a large chance that some detail of a kitchen renovation was not done to code or under the permission of local permitting.


The story with bathrooms is very similar to kitchens in that they are a highly desirable area to remodel and as such it is common for homeowners to take on DIY projects here and there that do not meet current building standards or have a permit.

Additions to the structure

When a homeowner decides they want to add some square footage to their home most often a home inspector will ask if the new addition has been permitted. A permitted addition to a home means that it has been inspected for the utmost safety and approved by the local government for current building and safety standards. Inspectors will often ask this right off the bat as it is not uncommon to find a home with additional square footage that has not been permitted.

The attic, the basement, or the crawlspace

Often it is not uncommon to find plumbing and electrical that are unfinished in spaces such as the attic basement and the crawlspace. In fact, these areas are the most likely places you can observe the plumbing and electrical systems of the home and find any issues that improper plumbing or electrical may have caused.

It is actually not all that uncommon for a house to be out of code, especially if the home is older and has undergone some renovation. Or even if it has not. Many times, the building codes will change to update with expanding knowledge of what is safe for the typical everyday home.

For example, knob and tube electrical wiring used to be a standard in homes built prior to the 1960s. Today we have knowledge that knob and tube electrical wiring is very dangerous and a high fire hazard. It is no longer permissible to install in a home. Some homes that were built during the time when it was permissible still have this type of wiring. When it is discovered, it needs to be completely ripped out updated to avoid a house fire.

Does this mean you can’t sell your home if it is not up to the current housing code?

The answer to this question is no. There are several existing homes available for resale that violate local building codes, but it does not mean that the home is not allowed to be sold. There are many items that a homeowner may be unaware of as out of code, especially with new codes being made. Most often the only time when you will be liable for a code violation is if there is proof that you knew about it and did not disclose it when selling the home if it is a major safety issue.

Using the example above of the knob and tube wiring. A homeowner is most likely not aware that it even exists in their home as the wiring is hidden within the walls. A home inspector is not going to rip into a home’s walls to figure out what is inside. Most often this type of wiring is only discovered when doing a renovation or cutting into the wall as required.  It is impossible to see through a wall, it will not be expected that you disclose this issue. It is seen as a risk that a homeowner takes when purchasing an older property.

For more information on buying or selling a home in Columbus Ohio, please contact us anytime.

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