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Before you plan home renovations, research local building codes.

renovation RISmedia February 2, 2024

Before you renovate your home, you’ll have to learn about local building codes and make sure that your plans meet those requirements. Building codes might limit the scope of your project or require you to upgrade your property. Researching those requirements early in the process can help you avoid delays and budget overruns.

Common Building Code Requirements
Building codes are a series of rules and regulations that are meant to ensure that buildings are safe. They can cover things such as the size of a structure and the types of construction materials that may be used. For example, the building code in your city or town might require the use of fire-resistant and energy-efficient materials.

Local building codes typically address the types of weather that are common in the area. A region that gets heavy snowfall in the winter will require roofs to be able to support the weight of several inches of snow, while the building code in an area that frequently gets battered by hurricanes or tornadoes will have high standards for wind resistance.

How Building Codes Can Affect Your Renovation Costs and Timeline 
Before you begin to renovate your house, you or your contractor might have to obtain a permit. Rules regarding which projects require a permit vary from one jurisdiction to another. If you need a permit, you’ll have to pay a fee.

An inspector will have to visit the house one or more times to inspect the work and make sure that it meets local requirements. Getting permits and having your home inspected can take time. You’ll need to factor that in when planning the project and be prepared for possible delays. If you don’t comply with the rules regarding permits and inspections, you might be forced to halt the renovations and pay a fine.

If you have an older home, you might have to upgrade the structure so it complies with current building codes. That can increase the cost of your renovations and the time needed to complete the project, but it will also make the property safer and raise its value.

Research the Current Building Codes in Your Jurisdiction
Local governments adopt their own building codes. Rules can differ significantly from place to place. It’s essential to research the building codes in the city or town where your house is located. 

If you renovated a house in a different location in the past, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be allowed to do the same type of work at your current home. The place where you live now might face different weather-related hazards, which means you might have to meet different construction standards.

If you had your current home renovated a few years ago, don’t assume that the building codes are the same now as they were then. Local governments can modify building codes to address new concerns and to reflect changes in construction methods. Find accurate, up-to-date information and make sure that your plans meet those requirements.

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