Added an Unpermitted Bathroom to Your Vista Home and Now Code Violations Are Making it Difficult to Sell?

by | May 9, 2017

People have been DIY’ing for as long as time, but in recent years, the Do-It-Yourself mantra has grown in popularity and has been coined as a positive and often cheaper solution to home-ownership woes. And while in many cases doing it yourself can mean a great and personalized product at a fraction of the price, it can also mean poor workmanship and potential safety issues. I think we have all tried a thing or two that we saw on Pinterest or watched on HGTV and soon realized that it was far more difficult than it had seemed! With that being said, we recently helped a family in Vista, CA who was looking to sell their 3 BD 2 BA home to upsize to something bigger for their family. When the couple had originally purchased the home, located off of North Santa Fe (with great views of the rolling hills to the east), it only had one bathroom. Initially, this wasn’t a terrible inconvenience because it was just the two of them. But, when their family expanded by two, they began to feel extra cramped in their one tiny bathroom. Because they had a friend with some construction experience, they decided to take on the bathroom addition themselves to save money and customize the renovation. The renovation was completed and the extra bathroom serviced their needs in regards to space for a period of time, but eventually, they became eager to sell for something larger overall.

Upon listing their home on the market, they encountered an unforeseen issue. Their DIY “money-saving” renovation now posed a threat to getting their home sold. They were under the impression that the addition would be added value to the property (which it usually would be), but unfortunately, they didn’t get anything permitted and now have a code violation for the construction.

What is a Code Violation and How Can it Affect the Sale of My House?

Most cities and towns across the United States have developed a set of building codes that set standards for properties in their region. The primary objective of these building codes is to enforce safe and healthy environments within properties. Codes can range from requirements ensuring new electrical is installed a certain way, or that the structure can support your deck or roof, etc. In addition to these more obvious requirements, code violations can even include regulations stating that your property must devoid of excess garbage. But, one common misconception about code violations is that most homes don’t have ANY. Most of the homes that are in our market likely have a code violation or two, unless it is a new construction home. Why? Well, homes adapt and small changes are made over the years by the owners. Some small changes like how far your toilet is from the wall can technically be a violation of the code, but it is innocent and you won’t get flagged for it unless it was a safety issue. There are many violations that are too minor to pay attention to, but there are some that you should.

If you have taken on some of the larger fixes or a renovation project that consists of adding additional space or completely renovating a space, you do need to be mindful. You need to follow the code’s guidelines closely for larger projects because you may end up paying for your potential mistakes later on. If your home isn’t up to municipal building code, you will have to inform potential buyers of these shortcomings. By law, certain disclosures must be made by the seller to the buyer. For example, the government demands that sellers inform buyers of lead paint in their homes if it exists. And while state disclosure practices may vary, most states will require that you disclose any structural defects, problems with your HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and ALL known code violations. The issue with code violations is that if you don’t fix the issue, then your new buyer will be hunted down by code enforcement and the responsibility and financial burden will then fall on them. So, if code violations are uncovered while you’re trying to sell your house – we wouldn’t be surprised if your buyer gets cold feet. Here are some of the other issues sellers have with selling a home with code violations:

  • A smaller pool of buyers – as mentioned above, the pool of buyers willing to take on your code violations will diminish.
  • Financing problems – lenders will have a harder time financing a loan for a home with extensive code violations.
  • Costs to the seller – if you can’t find a buyer to buy the home as-is, you’ll need to pay to fix the issues and resolve the violation yourself.
  • Longer sales process – if you have code violations uncovered during the sales process, due diligence will slow the closing of escrow.

FYI: Here Are the Most Common Code Violations to Avoid

According to House Logic, there are some mistakes with code violations that occur more often than others. Here’s a very brief snapshot of some of the most common code violations “oops:”

  • No permits – Very simply, if you’re going to take on in-home renovations yourself, do yourself a favor and do it the right way first by taking out proper permits.
  • Asbestos and lead – There are laws in place that require proper testing for asbestos and lead. Don’t ignore these regulations! Both items are very dangerous and are there to not only protect you, and the future owners, but also trash removal workers and those dealing with your remodeling waste.
  • Deck ledgers – Sounds easy to add a deck to your home? Maybe, maybe not. If you’re adding a deck to your home, you must properly fasten the ledgers to your house and structure for safety reasons.
  • Adding bedrooms – Whether you’re adding a bedroom to your existing basement, or you’re adding extra square footage off the back of your house…abide by the code.
  • Proper ventilation – A common mistake for DIY’ers is to not properly install bathroom vents. Many folks mistakenly think it’s okay for these to vent into the attic. But, what you’re buying yourself is a lot of mold and potential code violations.
  • Electrical – We have seen it all! Splicing wires, duct tape working extra hard in spaces it shouldn’t be in the first place, and renovations not using a junction box. ALL will lead to code problems.

Sell Your House As It Is – Code Violations and All

If you’re having trouble selling your home in Vista, or anywhere in San Diego County, due to code violations that you don’t have the resources to address- we can help. Luckily, we’re also a construction company, so the world of pulling permits and renovating homes to code is our specialty. We won’t look at your code violations as a burden and they most certainly won’t scare us away. We’ll buy your house, along with its code violations, and will pay to bring everything to date. By selling to someone like us, you won’t have to lift a finger and you can rest easy knowing that the renovations we do will be up to code – making the future resident of your home very happy and secure.

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