Can You Sell a House That Is Not Up to Code? Here’s How

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Your property may have code violations for a number of reasons, and selling it can be quite taxing. However, if you've ever renovated a bathroom, installed a backyard deck, or changed an air conditioner, it's conceivable that the new improvements or finishing touches don't truly adhere to the construction regulations in your county, city, or town.

Regardless of the reason you want to sell your home, it will be difficult to find a buyer if it doesn't comply with housing standards. A code violation can be devastating. However, just because there is a code violation on your home doesn't imply you can't sell. There are certain things you can do to quickly sell your property. In this article, you’ll learn what code violations are, the common types of building violations, and how to sell a house with code violations.

What Are Code Violations?

When it comes to the construction and occupation of a house, there are state, federal, and municipal residential building rules in place to safeguard the welfare, health, and safety of the general public. Your house is in violation if certain construction codes are not satisfied.

The International Code Council (ICC), which develops and updates a set of global building regulations for residential construction known as the International Residential Code (IRC), is adopted by the majority of towns and municipalities.

Municipalities can then adopt more detailed building regulations, especially for public health and safety. Electrical design, inspection, and installation are governed by national codes like the National Electric Code (NEC).

Additionally, individual homeowners' associations (HOAs) have the power to enact codes aimed at preserving property values. Any of these codes may evolve, especially as technology advances, making it challenging for the typical homeowner to stay current. The NEC, as an illustration, is changed every three years. As a result, something that was deemed safe and compliant a few years ago could no longer be.

The 4 Most Common Building Violations

The probability is that you have some undetected residential building code violations if your house has undergone a substantial number of DIY home improvement projects or handyman work over the years. You could be obligated to address those issues even if the prior owner was to blame. Here are four typical building offenses:

Inadequate bedroom windows

You can add a bedroom to almost any basement, garage, or attic area, increasing the value of your house. However, that bedroom needs to have an egress window big enough for a grownup to fit through in order to be code compliant. It is mandated by several localities that the minimum window size should be 20 inches wide by 24 inches high. Your window may be in violation of the building code if it is too small.

Lack of code compliant electrical work

There are several reasons why your house could not be up to code when it pertains to electrical work. Typical electrical errors in homes include:

  • Incorrectly covering outdoor outlets after installation
  • Connecting an electric source without using a junction box
  • Not using enough electrical bonding
  • Selecting the incorrect type of circuit breaker
  • Not putting up enough outlets

Some of these issues are simple enough for a skilled electrician to resolve. Others can call for stripping your home's walls, or even rewiring it.

Poorly ventilated bathrooms

The most frequent error made during DIY bathroom renovations has nothing to do with tiling or plumbing. Many households fail to take the essential steps to channel air all the way outside. Instead, they simply divert the outflow from a bathroom fan into the attic. Pumping humid air into a small area can encourage mold growth, which can cause wood to deteriorate very quickly. If ignored, it may seriously harm the environment.

Deck with poor fastening

Building a deck is one of the more fulfilling home improvement chores, but there are few things more horrific than watching it fall apart. The most common deck breaches, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association, are:

  • Utilizing nails to secure the deck in place rather than bolts
  • Lack of flashing, which might lead to the deterioration of the wood behind the beam
  • Railing attachments with notches or other problems that might break

How to Sell a House That Is Not Up to Code

State and municipal governments often handle code violations. These regulations are in place to uphold a degree of consistency and safety. Buildings that are industrial, residential, or  commercial must adhere to certain codes. If there is a code violation, you could have a deadline to address the issue. A code violation may also result in fines, which can add up over time. Here’s how to sell a house that is not up to code:

Resolve the issue by yourself

If the problem is minor, you might be able to remedy it before selling and completely avoid the code violation problem. A misaligned smoke detector or stairway railing are two examples of a minor code violation. These issues could be easily resolved. However, there may also be more significant issues, such as ventilation or electrical problems. Before assuming that you cannot correct the code violation, consult an expert to determine the cost of the fix. 

Sell the house to an investor in "as-is" condition

You might want to think about selling the house to an investor for cash if you lack the resources to bring it up to code and the time to do all the repairs yourself. It saves you the hassle and time of having to get permits, take time off work, do the labor-intensive work, and hire an inspector to ensure that the job is completed correctly.

Reduce the asking price

Selling while in violation of the law is possible, yet it is nonetheless viewed negatively. By reducing your asking price, you may avoid this issue. Even though it may not be your approach, doing this could be required to attract interest in a house with code problems. Since you may have to deal with local officials and file documentation, you might also want to collaborate with a real estate agent that has expertise in selling properties with code violations.

Repair and bring your house up to code

To avoid any negative impact on the sale and price of your property, you might opt to remedy everything that is not up to code. First, evaluate what and how many infractions exist in your residence. 

You might wish to hire a home inspector to provide you with a thorough assessment of your house's condition. Once you've compiled a list of probable code infractions, analyze your financial condition. Prepare a rough budget for the repairs and assess whether or not this is a viable choice for you.


It might be challenging to sell a home that has code violations. To put your house on the market for sale, you must identify the codes that it violates and locate the best remedy. You can undertake an inspection with the help of an expert real estate agent to gauge how challenging it would be to sell your house as-is
Feel free to contact Proud Start, LLC if you need professional guidance or need to sell a house that has code violations. We can assist you in taking the best course of action.

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