When it comes to renovating your home, it's important to be aware of the building codes that could affect your project. Building codes are regulations that promote safety and uniformity in construction and remodeling projects. It's not uncommon for older homes to have low ceilings on the stairs, balusters that are too widely spaced, and lack of exit windows in basement bedrooms. Modern homes usually require a minimum height of 6'8 for stair ceilings and appropriate railings between 30 and 37 inches high for any set of stairs that are more than two steps high.
Asbestos and lead are hazardous materials that you should be aware of if your home was built before the 1970s. Any baluster with a spacing of 4 inches or more, or any space within the handrail that allows a 4-inch sphere to pass, violates the code. Basement rooms must have at least one exit window that measures at least 24 inches high and 20 inches wide. It's important to be aware of the building codes in your area, as they can change over time.
The National Electrical Code (NEC) is updated every three years, so what was considered secure and up to date a few years ago may no longer be. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the next major evolution in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, as it allows efficient building management and greatly improved planning of the construction process. Fences are limited to 6 feet in the back of the house and 28 to 42 inches in the front. If you're making improvements to your home without the help of a professional contractor, you may not be aware of the need for a permit or current building codes.
It's always a good idea to be on the lookout for any hidden building code violations that are hidden in your home. Most cities and municipalities adopt a set of universal building codes for residential construction developed and updated by the International Code Council (ICC), collectively referred to as the International Residential Code (IRC). If you're selling an older home that doesn't have railings when needed, the prospective buyer's loan agent will likely ask you to install railings before they can guarantee the mortgage. This is to ensure that the house is not considered dangerous to the next owners.
If buyers include a home inspection contingency, they can abandon the sale after discovering significant code violations. They may have to leave because code violations can make it difficult or impossible for them to obtain financing and home insurance.
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