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How to Fix Building Code Violations When Selling a Home in Tacoma

Residential building code violations can prevent you from selling your house. So you’ll want to resolve them as quickly as possible, in order to move forward with the process. This article explains the basic steps required to fix building code violations in the Seattle and Tacoma areas.

Step 1. Download Applicable Building Codes

For starters, get a copy of the residential building codes for the area in which you live. These codes are usually established at the city level. So you’ll want to check your city’s website for applicable codes and related information.

You could also use a website like www.municode.com to find the codes for your area. For instance, to find residential building codes for Seattle, Washington, you would select Washington from the “Code Library” on municode.com, and then select Tacoma. This will give you a compiled list of all municipal codes for the Tacoma area. So you’ll have to drill down to find the specific section you need. In this example, you would want “Title 22, Building and Construction Codes.”

Building violations usually have a numeric code associated with them. Locate the violation within your city’s building code, and you’ll find out what kinds of repairs are needed to resolve the situation. This is an important starting point. You can’t bring your home “up to code” until you know exactly what that means.

Step 2. Create a List of Violations, Categorized by Type

If your home only has one violation, you can skip this step. But if you’ve racked up several violations, you’ll want to organize them based on the type of contractor required to fix them. This allows you to tackle the necessary repairs in stages, so the contractors aren’t getting in each other’s way.

Step 3. Get Professional Help When Needed

Some building code violations are straightforward. Others are much more complex. If you’re not sure how to bring one of your violations up to code, you may have to seek professional help from a consultant who specializes in this area.

For example, if you live in the Seattle area, you could do a Google search for “building code consultant Seattle.” These folks specialize in this aspect of construction. Some work on commercial properties only, while others handle both residential and commercial. Obviously, you’ll need a consultant who does residential work, if you have building code violations on your home.

Step 5. Identify Licensed and Experienced Contractors

Be sure you are hiring licensed and experienced contractors who are familiar with local building codes. Ask about this in advance. Describe the nature of your violation, and ask the contractor what he would do to fix it. Do his recommendations make sense, based on the building codes you downloaded earlier? They should.

There are many ways to find licensed contractors in the Seattle and Tacoma areas. Websites like Yelp and Angie’s List might be useful. Personal referrals go a long way too, so ask other homeowners if they can recommend a reputable contractor to perform your work. Be sure to get estimated costs and project completion times in advance, before signing any type of agreement.

Step 6. Start With the Structure First

It usually makes sense to resolve structural building violations first. Structural repairs often require you (or the contractor) to get inside of the walls, especially if plumbing or electrical is involved. By doing repairs in this order, you can avoid having to redo cosmetic or superficial repairs later on, after the structural repairs have been completed.

Building code violations can create a lot of obstacles when selling a home. But they’re only speed bumps — not roadblocks. Be proactive. Get your hands on all applicable building codes for your area, and find out what needs to be done. Find a reputable contractor who’s an expert on codes, and get to work!  

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