Selling a House With Building Code Violations? Here’s What To Do

Share on

Selling a House With Building Code Violations Here's What To Do

Whether you’re selling inherited real estate or a home you are ready to be rid of, a home inspection may uncover building code violations. You shouldn’t be alarmed. While the information may surprise you, selling your house with building code violations is achievable. 

You’re not alone. Uncovering code violations happens more often than you may expect. 

The most common violations occur when you repair or renovate the home yourself. Sometimes contractors even commit city code violations. The primary issue is that people fail to get the proper building permits. 

Even if your home has building code violations, you don’t need to worry. In this post, we’ll review how to sell your house with building code violations and some strategies you can execute to get a fair price. 

Selling a House with Code Violations

You’ll likely have to disclose if you’re selling a house with code violations and know about them. Most states have seller disclosure forms covering almost every home aspect. 

Even if your state doesn’t require you to report code violations, it’s probably a good idea to let buyers know about potential issues with the house. It can save you the headache of a future lawsuit.

A title company will find any liens, title defects, like a zoning violation or unpaid property taxes. Also, home inspectors will usually discover code violations in your home.  

Can You Sell a House with Code Violations?

You might need to fix your home’s code violations first. Some code violations prevent the home’s occupancy because the violations make the home unsafe. In some cases, either the buyer or seller may bring the house to code before closing on the home can occur. 

Another issue is that a mortgage company may not issua a loan approval if the house has a code violation. 

In other instances, bringing the home up to code is unnecessary, but you may have to reduce the sales price or agree to other seller concessions.

A homeowners fixing a window in his house to avoid code violations

Should You Bring Anything Up To Code First?

Generally, you don’t have to bring your home up to code before you sell. If you bring the house up to code, you may find that it makes your home more marketable. But fixing code violations can be costly and time-consuming.

You might have been in the process of selling your home, and when the buyer got the inspection, there were several code violations. Fixing all those violations may cost a lot of money. 

You may want to bring the home up to code to command a higher price on the market. That’s a solid plan unless bringing your home into compliance costs more than the home is worth. In that case, you’ll lose money on the sale. 

Several factors go into deciding whether you should bring anything up to code first: 

  • Your home’s value
  • Extent of violations
  • Determine if it’s a short-term or long-term process
  • Resources available to repair the problems

Different Types of Code Violations

The International Code Council (ICC) develops and updates a set of standard building codes for residential construction called the International Residential Code (IRC). 

Typically, states and city councils adopt the IRC and add additional building codes for accessibility, public health, and public safety. National codes, like the National Standard Plumbing Code (NSPC), control plumbing design, installation, and inspection. Local authorities also handle code enforcement.

In addition to states and cities, a Homeowners Association may enact code enforcement to protect property values. 

With technology and improving practices, codes change, making it challenging for private property owners to stay in regulation. For instance, the NSPC undergoes annual updates. Your home may have been compliant with the code five years ago, but today it’s not. 

Common code violations

Code violations are a result of areas that are out of code compliance. Those violations may result in notices, which is like a parking ticket that highlights the code, your violation, and the type of property maintenance to correct the violation.

Code violations run the gamut from DIY projects to significant repairs and renovations that required doing business with a professional contractor.

Some of the most common code violations include the following: 

  • Egress window in base bedrooms: A basement bedroom has to have two means of egress in case of a fire. And to be classified as a bedroom, the window must be at least 24 inches tall X 20 inches wide. 
  • Electrical panel: Your panel has an electrical load rating. If your home’s electrical load exceeds that rating, it can trip the breakers or cause an electrical fire. 
  • DIY plumbing or improper materials: DIY plumbing causes many plumbing code violations. Installing problems may result in broken or leaking pipes. 
  • Faulty or missing ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): OSHA dictates that outlets must have a circuit breaker to shut off electricity in the event of a ground fault. Older homes don’t have GFCI outlets, and the current code is that you need one if you’re within 6 feet of a water source.  
  • Flashing issues: Incorrect or missing flashing is one of the most common code violations. Doors and windows need flashing, a layer of waterproofing that protects your doors and windows from water damage and moisture. 
  • Handrails: Steps and decks require handrails. When railings are present, common issues include improper height, fastening, and grip surface. Another problem is handrails that face out; they should turn into a wall to avoid catching clothing or straps.  
  • Missing, misplaced, or outdated alarms: Carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors should be on each level of the home and in each bedroom. They should also be functional and in-date. 
  • Room or dwelling unit additions: When you add to the existing structure, you must get permits and meet the local building code. 
  • Renovations without permits: Not all upgrades require permits, but if they do and you fail to get one, the penalties can be severe. You may have to pay a fine or enter abatement of the renovation, which can void your homeowners insurance. 
  • Substandard remodels: Kitchens and bathrooms are the most commonly remodeled rooms in the house. Stringent rules govern many aspects of the remodel and must be met at the time of construction. 
  • Venting: Exhaust fans and vents should bleed outside, not into the attic.
A young couple of homeowners look at different papers and learn about code requirements in their area

Knowing Code Requirements in Your Area

Residential building codes are complicated. Local code officials are the only people with the authority to determine whether your house complies with local regulations. As you work on learning your municipality code initiatives, remember that your home has to be in compliance with the code as it was written at the time of the renovation or remodel.

Knowing code requirements in your area takes a little work. Here are some tips to assist you: 

  • Review any permit applications and permits issued by city hall for your home.
  • Explore ICC’s code adoption database.
  • Check out for more information.
  • Read the open data provided by the IRC; keep in mind that it’s updated every three years.

Do Code Violations Change Per State?

Each state maintains its residential codes. As such, violations may change per state; check your state’s codes to see. 

How to Sell a House with Code Violations

Once you’ve discovered that your home has code violations, you can handle the situation in three ways. You can bring the home to code, offer a discount or concession on your home, or sell your house “as-is.” 

1. Bring your house to code

There are several factors to consider if you choose to bring your house to code. You’ll want to make sure it makes financial sense to spend the time and money in anticipation of the home sale.

You should consider the following: 

  • The extent of the violations
  • Cost to bring the home to code
  • Legal obligations 
  • Market forces

2. Lower the selling price or offer incentives

If the cost of bringing the home to code is too high or doesn’t make financial sense, you can offer the buyer a reduced price or other concessions. 

One of the incentives you may offer is a repair credit, an amount from the seller to the buyer that covers the cost of repairs.

A young agent from We Buy Houses 4 Cash smiles after closing a deal on a house with code violations

3. Sell your home “as-is” to a cash buyer

The advantage of selling to a cash buyer is the speed and ease of the transaction. These buyers will get information about your home and provide an all-cash offer within days. 

If you’re considering selling your home “as-is” and want to see how much a cash buyer might offer, We Buy Houses 4 Cash can help you out. Answer questions about your home and selling timelines, and get a no-obligation cash offer within 48 hours. If you choose to accept our offer, you can close in as few as two weeks. 

We Buy Houses 4 Cash can help you avoid the hassle of realtors, repairs, and uncertainty. You can sell your house on your terms and on your timeline. 


Selling a house with a code enforcement case can be a challenging task. If your home inspection uncovered several or severe code violations, you have three options: 

  • Fix the house
  • Offer a discount on the sales price
  • Sell “as-is” buyer

If you choose to sell your home “as-is,” contact We Buy Houses 4 Cash to help you sell your home with code violations. 

See how we’ve helped out other people sell a home facing foreclosure, code violations, and different difficult situations: 

Get an all cash offer on your home