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Old 03-19-2008, 08:56 PM   #1
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Building code violation


Hi Everyone,


I have a question regarding building codes.

I am in the process of buying a house. When I did the home inspection, I found out that the bathroom does not have an adequate vapor barrier---the house is not built to code. The home was built after the vapor barrier code was in effect

Now the current owner and their realtor claim that it is not an defect, as the inspector can not confirm that it is a defect. The current owner does not feel that she should have to lower the price or fix the problem with the lack of a vapor barrier.

Do I have any legal ground to stand on, if I were to void the agreement?

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Old 03-19-2008, 09:50 PM   #2
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Building code violation


I would think if it were not built to code then someone is responsible for the fine due to it or for bringing it up to code. That would be them now or you after you've bought it potentially right?
If you tell the City permit folks that it is not up to code,won't they simply come out and write the owners or builders a fine?
I'm curious of this myself,having bought a new house that I have a feeling might be sub-par in a couple departments or at least not as advertised.

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Old 03-19-2008, 10:07 PM   #3
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Building code violation


A home inspection is not a code inspection since who knows when the works done and what the code was then.

A home inspections for structure, safety (carbon monoxide, falls, tripping, steps, etc.), functionability (do things work during a short test if they can be operated) and to identify major upcoming cost expenditures (roofs, furnaces, etc.). In some ways a home inspection is more severe than the current building code and in some ways items not meeting current code cannot be noted.

The question of the price is between you and the seller. If he will not make some adjustment, you can walk away.
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:01 AM   #4
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Building code violation


Quote:
Originally Posted by DefEddie View Post
I would think if it were not built to code then someone is responsible for the fine due to it or for bringing it up to code. That would be them now or you after you've bought it potentially right?
If you tell the City permit folks that it is not up to code,won't they simply come out and write the owners or builders a fine?
How? Based on a home inspector's report and the cries of a homebuyer who got cold feet?

Quote:
I'm curious of this myself,having bought a new house that I have a feeling might be sub-par in a couple departments or at least not as advertised.
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Old 03-20-2008, 12:04 AM   #5
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Building code violation


Quote:
Originally Posted by fetzo View Post
Hi Everyone,


I have a question regarding building codes.

I am in the process of buying a house. When I did the home inspection, I found out that the bathroom does not have an adequate vapor barrier---the house is not built to code. The home was built after the vapor barrier code was in effect

Now the current owner and their realtor claim that it is not an defect, as the inspector can not confirm that it is a defect. The current owner does not feel that she should have to lower the price or fix the problem with the lack of a vapor barrier.

Do I have any legal ground to stand on, if I were to void the agreement?
Just because a home inspector finds something wrong doesn't mean the seller has to act on that information.

Some buyers get the idea in their head that every negative connotation on a report means the price is going down.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:40 AM   #6
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Building code violation


There are many, many older homes that are not built to current code requirements. As time goes on, there are more and more revisions (as technology advances) with building practices and in the codes themselves. This could "effectively" label, more and more homes as being non-code compliant. The fact of the matter is, they are not labeled as such.

The codes allows older homes (like the one mentioned with no "bathroom vapor barrier")to be in a live-able/inhabitable condition. It is not like there is an issue with dangerous material (i.e. - Lead paint, asbestos, mold, etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetzo View Post
....The home was built after the vapor barrier code was in effect.
That makes the home code compliant to it's time period. That is allowed. It is not a "code-violation".

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetzo View Post
....
Now the current owner and their realtor claim that it is not an defect, as the inspector can not confirm that it is a defect. The current owner does not feel that she should have to lower the price or fix the problem with the lack of a vapor barrier.
It is not a defect that would be considered "code-enforcable".....just as old drafty windows, in an older home, cannot be considered a "code violation".

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetzo View Post
....
Do I have any legal ground to stand on, if I were to void the agreement?
Sorry to break the news to you, but, you don't have legal ground, nor a legal leg (or even a legal toe) to stand on ... in terms of a code violation for an older home.

Last edited by AtlanticWBConst.; 03-20-2008 at 05:05 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:36 AM   #7
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Building code violation


For the record, exactly what is this code required vapor barrier required in bathrooms?
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Old 03-20-2008, 11:59 AM   #8
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Building code violation


Quote:
Originally Posted by LawnGuyLandSparky View Post
For the record, exactly what is this code required vapor barrier required in bathrooms?
Currently, there is no specific code required for vapor barriers in bathroom walls. There are codes regarding exterior walls, insulation, and thermal envelopes.

N1102.5 MOISTURE CONTROL. The building design shall not create conditions of accelerated deterioration from moisture condensation. Above-grade frame walls, floors and ceilings not ventilated to allow moisture to escape shall be provided with an approved vapor retarder. The vapor retarder shall be installed on the warm-in-winter side of the thermal insulation.

Bathroom walls do not rot, unless they experience direct water and moisture intrusion (like a shower or tub area with leaks).

There are codes regarding bathroom ventilation, to remove airborne moisture.

Bathroom Mechanical Ventilation Code:
M1507 - MECHANICAL VENTILATION.
Minimum requirement for one and two family dwellings.
Table M1507.3
Bathroom -Toilet Room
Mechanical exaust capicity of 50 cfm intermittent or 20 cfm continuous.

That's it.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:35 PM   #9
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Building code violation


Do I have any legal ground to stand on, if I were to void the agreement?

disclaimer - not an real estate agent/ broker.

First, it sounds like you are asking if it's ok to walk from the deal, not leagally force the seller to fix it, correct?

We have bought/sold 5 houses and last one we did w/o agents. In CA, my understanding of a typical contract (if there is such a thing) is there is an inspection contigency. A contract would specify a reasonable time frame for the buyer to get inspections and lift the contingency. The goal being the buyer checks out the house and is aware of what is being purchased. It is to protect the buyer. If the report has something "bad",the buyer doesn't lift the contingency by the stated time, and the contract terms are not met.

I do not believe the intent of this contigency is to give a buyer an easy way out for getting cold feet. Such an inspection is also not meant to be a punch list for the seller to fix. Sure it's worth a discussion on covering costs to see if the parties could come to an agreement.

You would have to consult a real estate attorney to know for sure. If it really bothers you that much, I would walk. If it is something petty and you're trying to get out, the seller might (legally) be able to enforce the contract, but that's not too realistic. Getting a deposit back is another matter. If I were the seller in my area where real estate is still moving, even with the current situation, I would hold the door for you as you walked.
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Old 03-20-2008, 04:58 PM   #10
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Building code violation


Often a home inspection is the purchaser's best/only chance to evaluate a home.

The purchaser has no history beyond what the owner chooses to offer in a "disclosure". The purchaser's only exposure is a few hours when the home is "dressed-up" and looking its temporary best - especially in the days of the TV "staging", "pimping" and fooling with cheap temporary fixes and hiding tactics.

The owner knows or should know all the problems and he will not divulge any more than necessary and is told to hide by the "Realtor".

I have conducted pre-sale home inspections for sellers and the problems I found were pointed out to the owner and listing "Realtor". One common comment was cover it up so the buyer cannot see it and makes sure the pre-purchase inspector has to move something to see the problem, which a home inspector is not allowed to do in a home without the owners permission (who is not there by instruction). - That is the reason you need a good, certified home inspector that knows the ropes of finding what is not visable during during "visual inspection". A good inspector can "sense" what does not look right - like the junk in the basement piled against one wall or big tapestries and furniture hiding wall cracks.
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Old 03-21-2008, 12:43 AM   #11
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Building code violation


AWB,

I think you read the post backwards. He said the bath was buildt AFTER, not BEFORE the requirement. so it should apply. IF he wants to push it, he should go to the building department and see if a permit and inspection were performed. IF it was, and he can't prove newer construction or remodel after that fact, then he is stuck. If it wasn't or there can be show to be non-permitted work, then just turn them into the building dept.

The rules vary from city to city, so you need to check local codes and history.
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Old 03-21-2008, 12:52 AM   #12
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Building code violation


Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlanticWBConst. View Post
Currently, there is no specific code required for vapor barriers in bathroom walls. There are codes regarding exterior walls, insulation, and thermal envelopes.

N1102.5 MOISTURE CONTROL. The building design shall not create conditions of accelerated deterioration from moisture condensation. Above-grade frame walls, floors and ceilings not ventilated to allow moisture to escape shall be provided with an approved vapor retarder. The vapor retarder shall be installed on the warm-in-winter side of the thermal insulation.

Bathroom walls do not rot, unless they experience direct water and moisture intrusion (like a shower or tub area with leaks).

There are codes regarding bathroom ventilation, to remove airborne moisture.

Bathroom Mechanical Ventilation Code:
M1507 - MECHANICAL VENTILATION.
Minimum requirement for one and two family dwellings.
Table M1507.3
Bathroom -Toilet Room
Mechanical exaust capicity of 50 cfm intermittent or 20 cfm continuous.

That's it.
So, the OP claiming the home insector discovered a bathroom has no vapor barrier is bogus. I mean, how could a home inspection reveal that unless the exterior sheathing was peeled off?
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:11 AM   #13
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Building code violation


Quote:
Originally Posted by kgphoto View Post
AWB,

I think you read the post backwards. He said the bath was buildt AFTER, not BEFORE the requirement. so it should apply.....
That's not what I got from the original post. Did I miss something? (I do, from time to time...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by fetzo View Post
.....I found out that the bathroom does not have an adequate vapor barrier---the house is not built to code. The home was built after the vapor barrier code was in effect.....
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Old 03-21-2008, 04:15 AM   #14
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Building code violation


Quote:
Originally Posted by LawnGuyLandSparky View Post
So, the OP claiming the home insector discovered a bathroom has no vapor barrier is bogus. I mean, how could a home inspection reveal that unless the exterior sheathing was peeled off?
Beats the poop out of me.

These posts are kind of funny. We end up going round and round (the topic) on our own, assumptions, speculations, etc...

Then the poster gets back a month later, after the thread is 10 pages long, and they clear up some matter in the original post, or tell us that they ended up not buying the house anyways... .
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Old 03-21-2008, 05:27 AM   #15
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Building code violation


How did the home inspector know there wasn't a vapor barrier in the bathroom wall? I am guessing one part of it had the backside exposed. (from an unfinished area)

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