Can You Sell A Home With Code Violations?

Every time a home is built or renovated, a set of guidelines written by the Building Code Council of each state outline how a building should be constructed. The purpose of this is to protect residents’ general welfare and safety. 

Local governments can introduce stricter construction standards to enhance public safety and health. The planning, installation, and inspection of electrical systems are regulated by national regulations like the National Electric Code (NEC).

Furthermore, individual Homeowners Associations (HOAs) can establish regulations designed to safeguard property values.

It may be difficult for the typical homeowner to stay current with these standards since they are subject to change at any time, especially in light of advances in technology. As an example, the NEC undergoes revisions once every three years. Therefore, something that was thought to be safe and in compliance with the regulations a few years ago could not be so now.

Whenever someone begins a new project on their home, they must check the building codes of their city and state to be sure that they are not in violation. Unfortunately, this is not always done. A corner-cutting contractor may choose to install an air conditioner or build a backyard deck in your house without proper permits. The additional improvements to your home may violate your town, city, county, and HOA building codes.

Code violations might also arise when a property is neglected or damaged by a calamity. Regardless of whether the code violation is intended or not, citations and expensive penalties are issued for failing to maintain a property.

Many homeowners learn the hard way that local inspectors can also conduct random inspections of local homes, searching for code violations. It might be due to a neighbor’s complaint in some circumstances. In others, they may target a property undergoing construction or renovations, or it could be a complaint from your neighborhood homeowners’ association.

Can you sell a home with code violations in Houston? To figure out where you stand, hire a professional inspector to conduct a home inspection. If you discover or are aware of code violations, this does not rule out your right to sell a house. However, it does imply that you have some decisions to make on how to go about selling a home with build code violations. 

What Are Code Violations?

Building Codes

Building codes vary from city to city. The local government employs these codes to keep people safe and protect homes from structural damage. If your home or structure doesn’t fulfill specific requirements, it will be a code violation. 

It’s important to remember that building codes are subject to regular revision. Homeowners may have built houses up to code at the construction time; however, they may no longer do so. Because building codes evolve with time, an initially code-compliant home may suddenly be non-compliant with today’s requirements. 

It’s highly likely that if you buy a new house, it is already compliant with local building codes, and you no longer need to bring your house up to code. New house builders often consult with local inspectors to ensure that their work complies with local, state, and federal regulations. 

That said, there may be code violations resulting from any renovations or additions you make. If and when you decide to sell your house in the open market, it might be an issue.

Homeowners must report a house with code violations to the proper authorities. Any financial harm potential buyers suffer due to the violations may fall on your shoulders if you fail to disclose it. To find out which building codes you must adhere to, have a home inspection and contact the local government in your area.

National Electric Codes

The National Electric Code (NEC) governs all electrical device installation and operation. All of your wirings must adhere to the requirements. Because the NEC is updated regularly, your wiring may be outdated even if it was up to code in previous years.

HOA Codes

If you fail to adhere to your Homeowner Association’s (HOA) standards for property upkeep, you may be subject to penalties. Numerous HOAs mandate mowed lawns, specific paint colors, and periodic roof cleaning. If you repeatedly fail to pay your fees, your HOA may put a lien on your home.

Most Common Code Violations In Houston

Smoke Alarms

A house in Houston should have a smoke detector installed in every bedroom, hallway, living room, den, and other living rooms. Each level of your house should have at least one alarm fitted.

Missing Or Defective GFCIs

GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter.” Its function is to protect people from getting an electric shock.

If you are in the bathroom and put your hand in a sink full of water while holding a plugged hairdryer, it could shock or kill you if the outlet is not GFCI protected. In the kitchen, if you were holding an electric appliance and put your hand in the sink while still holding it could shock, kill, or hurt you.


A railing is required if there are more than three steps on a staircase. This might be anything as simple as the stairs leading up to a patio. There are additional regulations regarding the minimum and maximum heights of the handrails. Handrails should finish with a turn into the wall so that clothing such as sleeves and straps do not get entangled in them.

Bathroom Exhaust Fans

Common code violations include exhaust fans venting into the attic rather than outdoors. If humidity enters the attic, it will lead to mildew growth and destroy the insulation.


Every livable room in Houston must have two “means of escape.” This is usually a door and an unobstructed window with a 5.7-square-foot opening.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

Professionals must appropriately install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors before buyers and sellers finalize the sale in many states and cities.

Attic Ventilation

Ventilation, such as solar attic fans, is required on all roofs. Depending on the insulation and ventilation you choose, you may have to meet additional standards.


Numerous houses, particularly older ones, have obsolete electrical systems. Not only are they ineffective, but they may also be hazardous to the residents. Consequently, most mortgage lenders demand that sellers improve their electrical systems to meet code requirements before selling their houses.

A house inspection may reveal an insufficient number of outlets or circuits with inadequate amperage. For instance, kitchens and utility rooms need 20-amp circuits, but lighting and other 120-volt residential circuits utilize 15 amps.


You may need to switch your closet light bulbs with completely encased ones.


The current building code mandates R-values of 30 for ceilings and R-13 for walls. If your insulation is outdated, it may not be up to code. 

R-value is essentially a measurement of an insulation’s resistance to heat flow. R-values vary from 1.5 to 7, and the greater the number, the more efficient the insulation is in enhancing thermal efficiency and, thus, insulating your house.

Deck Flashing

There should be flashing between a deck’s ledger board and the house. This will keep the wood from rotting and keep the deck stable.

Flashing must be put in between the deck ledger board and the house. If it’s not there or installed wrong, water damage will cause rot or the deck to fall.

Unsecured Doors

There must be security locks on all outside doors and windows and any internal doors meant to keep outsiders out.

For an outside door to shut correctly, it must have door hinges and security locks or latches attached to the frame. Metal-clad insulated (foam-filled) doors will be required for all outside doors. Paint and sealant are necessary on every jamb in the home. Entry clearance will be zero-step and sealed.

To keep out water and surface drainage, every window, outside door, basement entrance, and cellar hatchway must be tightly fitted inside their frames and pest, rodent, and insect-proof.

Stagnant Water

There should be no standing water on the land as it poses a public health risk. Runoff must not intrude on neighboring land to avoid creating a danger or a drainage concern.

Stagnant water may serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, posing a threat to human health and safety.

Remove any holes in the ground or containers, such as tires, that collect water and may encourage mosquitoes to reproduce.

Trash On Your Property

Keep the property clear of junk, trash, and debris; this is your obligation as the owner or resident. No garbage, trash, litter, or waste may be left or permitted to gather on the property or the street. Before the Friday before the planned collection date, it is a violation to put heavy garbage or other big goods on the curb line for collection.

Broken Fences Or External Structures

The property owner is responsible for maintaining the structural integrity and timely maintenance of any fences and external structures, including detached garages and sheds.

Renovations Made Without Permits

Permits aren’t essential for home renovations, but if you don’t have one and the work isn’t up to code, you might be fined, and the project could be torn down. Your home’s insurance may potentially be voided if you do this.

The town or city may require a pre-sale inspection if the building department determines that there has been work done without permission, in which case the seller will be required to get a permit and bring the work up to code.

Missing Expansion Tank For Water Heater

A water container is put in the line of a closed hot water plumbing system to help prevent leaks caused by the natural expansion of water as it gets hotter.

Outdated Piping

Polybutylene pipe is a cheap, flexible, and freeze-resistant plastic tubing used for plumbing from 1978 to 1995. Over time, polybutylene piping may expand and split, leading to flooding.

What Do Code Violations Mean For Selling A Home?

Depending on where you reside and what the issue is, you may or may not have to correct a code violation before selling your house. However, some state or local authorities may demand that specific safety issues be remedied before property may be transferred, even if they aren’t required by law. Find out what has to be done by contacting the city hall, the building department, or your real estate agent.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the scope of the problem must be addressed before the sale can go through. An unpermitted garage conversion or obsolete electrical panels, for example, are often not eligible for FHA financing. The buyer may use this as a bargaining chip.

It’s also possible that the cost of homeowners insurance for a house that isn’t up to code might be used by the buyer to lower the selling price of your property.

As a general rule, sellers in most states must disclose any known flaws in the property in writing. In certain states, disclosure forms are standard.

Even if your state does not mandate disclosure, it would be wise to advise prospective buyers of any difficulties you are aware of; this might shield you from a later lawsuit.

Before paying closing costs, a title firm and a house inspector will look for any issues with the title, such as liens or other matters that need to be addressed. Inspections of homes are where most code violations are found.

An Option Period or Termination Option allows buyers to walk away from a deal if severe code violations are discovered. The majority of homebuyers aren’t interested in dealing with repairs. Since code breaches may prevent them from getting financing or insurance, they may have little choice but to leave.

Fix, Sell As-Is, Or Sell To An Investor

You may opt to correct all of the items that aren’t up to code and hire a contractor to prevent any negative impact on the selling and price of your house.

Determine what violations your house presently has and how many there are. You may wish to employ a home inspector to provide you with a complete assessment of your house’s condition. Analyze your financial status after compiling a list of possible code breaches.

Prepare a rough budget for the major repairs and assess whether or not this is a viable choice for you. For example, if you discover a plumbing problem that would cost up to $15,000 to fix, your wallet may not be able to support the necessary upgrade.

Determine if you want or need to sell your house as soon as possible. Can you complete the repairs or improvements in time to meet the deadline?

Selling a home with code issues is a widespread practice nowadays. By informing prospective buyers that you are selling the home as-is, code violations and all, you may absolve yourself of any repairs or renovations necessary to bring it up to code. In turn, this lays the whole burden on the new buyer.

It is also possible to negotiate a price reduction or a repair credit with the buyer if the seller cannot bring the home up to code. Repair credit is feasible if the code violations do not threaten the buyer’s health or safety.

Why sell your property in its current condition? Here are the most common explanations:

  • You have limited financial resources and cannot afford to bring the home up to code.
  • Your time is running out. Obtaining the required permissions, completing the necessary repairs and improvements, and putting in the effort (or paying for labor) may be time-consuming and labor-intensive.
  • Not only does selling your house as-is affect your asking price, but also your pool of possible buyers. A few buyers are particularly interested in purchasing distressed houses, known as distressed home buyers. A distressed place lacks maintenance or is under financial duress, such as being behind on mortgage payments and on the verge of foreclosure. Homes with code violations fall under this category as well.

Among distressed homes, some buyers may be renovators and house-flippers. These include investors with expertise in acquiring houses in any condition. An investor, sometimes known as a cash buyer, is aware of the procedures involved in purchasing a house as-is, even those with code problems. By providing you a cash offer, often within 14 days, you can rapidly rid yourself of the property and its necessary repairs.

Selling “as-is” to a cash buyer is your best choice if you need to sell a house fast. The more violations you have, the more difficult it will be to pay for repairs or sell your home. As-is investors buy houses in their current condition without requiring you to do any renovations. They specialize in discovering properties precisely like yours and will give you a reasonable price. Because they have the cash to make repairs and then sell your house for top dollar, the price is generally far more significant than what a private buyer would give.

This is a stress-free choice since as-is investors pay cash, allowing you to leave your burdened property behind and discover a new home within your price range. You don’t have to be concerned about the expense of repairs. The right buyer will provide a reasonable cash offer and allow you the opportunity to get back on your feet financially and pay off your debt.

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