Whether you’re building a new home or renovating a fixer-upper, building codes play a significant role in the process. There are so many rules and regulations governing practically every aspect of a construction project — from the diameter of a vent pipe to the lumber spans. Getting caught violating such codes can have you pay a hefty sum in fines or even be forced to redo your entire project.
Learning about the common building mistakes and violations won’t just help you avoid them. It will also help you determine if you need to upgrade or remodel certain parts of your home to get up to code. Here are some common building code violations West Palm Beach homeowners are guilty of that you should avoid:
1. Misplaced Smoke Alarms
Many homeowners install one smoke alarm for their entire home and call it a day. However, smoke alarms should be installed on each level of the home and outside every bedroom.
Here are some key things to keep in mind about their placements:
- Apart from being hard-wired, all smoke alarms should come with a backup battery. They need to be interconnected so if one activates, the rest will also go off.
- Smoke alarms installed on ceilings have to be placed at least 4 inches away from walls. Smoke alarms installed on walls, on the other hand, should be 4 to 12 inches below the ceiling.
- All alarms should be installed at least 3 feet away from lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, and HVAC vents.
2. Improper Bathroom Venting
One common mistake that many homeowners make is having a bathroom fan that vents moisture and air into their attic. Doing this can promote mold growth and the rotting of wood components.
Instead of this mistake, all ventilation from the bathroom should be directed outside. The vent pipe should also be 4 inches in diameter.
3. Basement Bedrooms Without Egress Windows
Whenever homeowners need to expand their living space, the first option they think of is to renovate their basements. After all, it’s the easiest choice — you just need to add a bed, a carpet, and maybe some extra storage cabinets.
However, building codes require any “sleeping room” to have an egress window or a large window that can also serve as an emergency exit. Without one, the space won’t qualify as an additional bedroom, which can be a disadvantage if you’re planning to sell your home in the future.
4. Fence Height Requirements
Fences are some of the top reasons for trivial disputes between neighbors. To avoid disagreements with the people who share your property lines, it’s best to make sure your fences are built according to local building regulations.
Avoid the common mistake of building it too tall to get more privacy. Fences should be between 42 to 48 inches tall in the front, and 6 feet at most on the sides and at the back of the property.
5. Improperly Installed Water Heaters
Water heaters should come with an expansion tank — a small, additional tank designed to relieve pressure when the water expands due to high temperatures. Without one, the water heater tank may explode due to accumulated pressure.
Always keep your home up to code and make sure it’ll pass inspections from the local building authority. It may not be a fun task, but it’s a responsibility all homeowners should address to avoid fines and an expensive do-over.